The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr, a review by Di

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THE SEVEN RULES OF ELVIRA MAYNARD
Frances Maynard

Sourcebooks Landmark
July 11, 2017
402 pages

Amazon | Goodreads

Interesting, interesting book. Elvira is a 27 year old woman who lives on the spectrum. She still lives with her mother because of her “condition”. Her mother has not been supportive at all, and, has acted ashamed of her daughter’s condition. The mother has a stroke, has to go to a special care home and now, Elvira has to manage on her own.

We are taken through the trials and tribulations as Elvira makes her way through life. To help herself, she makes a list of seven rules. She believes that these rules can help her live in the “normal” world. Neuro Typicals is the term that Elvira applies to people who are not like she is.

Elvira has a support system of sorts. There is a kind librarian who encourages her to learn how to use a computer. Sylvia is her next door neighbour who helps out with practical things and is also a friend. Paul is a co-volunteer at an animal shelter who makes Elvira feel comfortable because he is also on the spectrum.

Throughout the book, there is a mystery/secret that Elvira is trying to figure out. To the reader, it is fairly obvious but it takes Elvira a while to put all the pieces together.

Elvira has extensive knowledge about cookies. She knows all the brands and the history if these brands. She saves the labels and boxes of her favourite brands. I found this very endearing.

One of her biggest challenges is that she takes absolutely everything literally. I don’t think that many of us realize how full of idioms our language is. When Elvira learns that a neighbour’s son has been moonlighting and has saved every penny he earned she imagines him working under the moon and being paid in stacks of pennies. She gradually learns how to recognize “Figures of Speech”.

It is interesting to watch Elvira come into her own and gain confidence in herself and life. At times, she is surprisingly intuitive. She forges her way into the world, determined to be able to live on her own, not wanting to go to sheltered care. But it is not an easy journey. Because she is vulnerable and does not understand the ways of the world, it is easy to take advantage.

This is a well written book. The author has first-hand experience, as a teacher, with adults who have Aspergers. This gives her the ability to develop Elvira’s character realistically. We see the difficulties that Elvira (and others like her) experiences in the everyday world. The only complaint I have about the book is that it is a bit drawn out. With artful editing, it could gave been condensed a bit.

Those that enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime, Eleanor Oliphant, The Rosie Project will probably find this book interesting. These books can help to gives us insight and some understanding into the lives of those whose thought processes are different from ours.

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  1. Diana Peach

    What an interesting book. I don’t think I’ve read anything like it, and I’m glad it was well researched. I love the example you gave of Elvira taking things literally. Oh, if only we worked by the light of the moon for stacks of pennies. Magical, but I can see how that literal interpretation could be a problem. Thanks for the review and recommendation. 🙂