Sunday, November 23, 2014

Earth Girl

"Earth Girl"
Janet Edwards
Earth Girl trilogy

Over 700 years from now the human race is spread out across the stars. We fled earth looking for what was out there, and we let our home planet fall in to ruin. We have cured every illness and handicap known to man. All save one. The ape maker.

Every few thousand babies, or so, is born with an auto-immune disease which makes it deadly for them to live on any planet but earth. These children are called Apes, throw backs and the handicapped.

The government has set up a strong system which keeps the handicapped supported and separate from the rest of the population but takes care of every need. Everything but acceptance and respect. unfortunately these are the things that matter most to Jarra.

Out of anger at her life and hatred of the norms, Jarra applies to an off world school with has its first year on earth. Her plan is to be better than they are and then reveal to them who she really is, but when faced with people can she really go through with her plan?

This book is amazing. I believe that anyone who works in the mental health field or knows someone with a mental or physical illness needs to read this book. This book follows the tradition of Science Fiction where it challenges social norms and beliefs that are hard to face head on. In this case it challenges our treatment and understanding of those we would call handicapped.

I work would with children who have varying kinds of mental and social disabilities. And I myself am so dyslexic that I could not read properly until I was 16 years old. I tell you this because I want you to understand how liberating this book was for me.

People often do not want to read a book or watch a movie about people who are handicapped because it makes us feel sad or uncomfortable. Also they are often not very action packed and so therefore do not draw a lot of attention from the average reader. This book is different.

In this book the writer invents an illness that is impossible to exist. The main character is as normal as you or me. She is smart, strong and kind. But in her world she is living with a debilitating handicap. Because of this we as the reader get the chance to look without fear or awkwardness in to the lives of those who are different and to see how often what we do to be nice is more painful then the things people do on purpose to be mean.

I have read thousands of books in my life and very few of them have touched me in such a personal and profound way. If you are looking for a book that will challenge your way of thinking and help you to understand those who are different from you, but is also fun, interesting and adventurous. Then this is the book for you.

For me this book is a 10 out of 10.

1 comment:

  1. I had the opportunity to email back and forth with this author about her amazing books, and I got her permission to quote her email to me as I think it adds something to this book. I hope everyone enjoys.

    Dear James,

    I'm delighted that you didn't just find Earth Girl personally helpful, but professionally helpful as well. I hear from people with a whole range of disabilities, but I'm always especially interested to hear from someone with dyslexia. Apologies that the reason takes a bit of explaining.

    I started writing Earth Girl when I was recovering from a long period of disabling illness. Not that it's one you ever seem to totally recover from (I've been having a flare up for the last few weeks which is why I'm slow replying to you), but I was improving to the 70% of normal that I think is about the best you can hope for. As I often say, after a long period of not being able to leave the house, I started writing about a girl who couldn't leave this planet.

    I had a couple of thoughts very strongly in my mind when I was writing Earth Girl. One was that people with many different disabilities have the same issues of facing prejudice and feeling different and isolated. The other was that the UK Equality Act 2010 defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities. What struck me about that definition is that society decides what is a normal daily activity, so what is regarded as a disability can change with changes in society or technology. The particular example that I kept thinking of was dyslexia, which wasn't a problem until writing was invented and society started expecting everyone to be able to read. Similarly, as Jarra points out several times in the books, no one would have known she had a problem if she'd been born before the invention of interstellar portals.

    It's wonderful to hear that you weren't just able to identify with Jarra, but you recommend Earth Girl to help people better understand those with disabilities. I'm honoured.

    Best wishes,

    Janet Edwards