A socially challenged young woman is finally forced to find her place in the world in this breathtaking and moving debut
Elvira Carr believes in crisp schedules, clear guidelines, and taking people at face value. She lives at home with her overbearing mother, who has deemed her unfit to interact with the rest of society.
But when her mother has a stroke, Ellie is suddenly forced to look after herself. She quickly comes up with an ingenious way of coping with the world: the seven social rules spreadsheet.
Unfortunately, Ellie soon discovers that most people don’t live their lives within a set of rules. As she experiences social missteps and awkward encounters, Ellie continues to learn – about herself, and the people around her. And she’ll need this new knowledge if she hopes to pave the way to living life on her own terms.
Review – No Spoilers
This book will take you through a spectrum of emotions and is a beautiful story of a young woman who sees the world through different eyes.
Elvira is neuro-atypical and has trouble understanding social situations and relationships. She is the narrator of her own story and it is told in a very matter of fact manner. We are given an idea of what life is like for someone with this or a similar condition. Struggling to make sense of figures of speech we all so commonly use, baffled as to why people say one thing and mean another and trying to figure out if someone is a good person or not. Elvira often says, and I tend to agree, that life would be a lot easier if more people were like her.
I fell in love with Elvira from the very start of this book and she had me laughing, crying and angry throughout the novel. Her relationship with her Mother is described in snapshots and it is clear that she was a very bitter woman who made her frustrations with Elvira very clear. Elvira was never allowed to socialise, Mother used Incidents such as not getting off the bus at the correct stop and getting her purse stolen at the cinema, as proof that Elvira should not mix with the outside world. Instead, she isolated her at home, berating her for every little thing and making her do endless chores.
I felt Elvira’s story could have been so different had her Mother behaved in a different way. It made me feel so sad to read some of the things her Mother had said to her and instead of building her confidence and giving her techniques to cope in the outside world she kept her hidden as though she was a monster.
Elvira doubts herself and her ability at every turn. She wants a computer but Mother told her she would never manage with one, she wants to volunteer at an animal shelter but after certain Incidents she worries whether she will be able to cope. Her mother has completely crushed any self-belief and confidence Elvira had in herself and this book follows her as she tries to get that back.
Elvira makes some lovely friends throughout the book such as Sylvia-next-door and Paul – who has a similar condition to her but there are also some not so nice characters. One particular incident made me so, so angry and hurt on behalf of Elvira but I think it was good to include it in the book as it gave us a better understanding of how hard it is for her to identify bad people.
Elvira develops 7 rules to help her understand and interact with people more, and to fit in which poses the question, why does she have to make herself fit in with “normal” people? Why should she wear what they wear, speak how they speak and behave like everyone else. Why can’t WE just accept her for who she is?
Trying her best to follow the rules with the threat of sheltered accommodation hanging over her head, discovering and trying to solve mysteries about her Father and just enjoying a damn good biscuit, Elvira’s story will fill your heart and your head long after the book has finished.
To watch Elvira grow and develop throughout this book was so enjoyable, I genuinely have a lot of love for this story and think it is a brilliant book. Whilst it’s not a gripping page-turner there is never a dull moment and it is a very heartwarming story.
I give this book a solid 4/5 stars and would recommend it to anyone who wants to understand a little more about how a neuro-atypical person might live and who enjoys a good story.
This book is out now and you can purchase it here**
* Many thanks to Ellis Keene and PanMacmillan for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for a full, honest review.
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