I read this book a couple years ago but I decided to pull it out and read it again. This book touches me in so many ways, because although it’s about the way people with mental disorders were misunderstood and mistreated up until only several years ago, when people really began to understand and appreciate people with mental or physical disabilities.
But this book is about more than that. It’s about how to handle and appreciate being different; to realize there are things you can change, and things you can’t. And that sometimes you should try to change things, but sometimes you shouldn’t. And the things you can’t change, you should learn to appreciate all the more because you can’t change them.
This book is a classic bildungsroman in that the main character is a mousey, quiet girl who is learning how to step outside of her box. With the help of her Uncle Adam, she learns to find her own corners of the universe, and how to stand up to those who don’t understand why she’s “different”. What I love about this book is Uncle Adam, who has a mental disability; making him simultaneously like an adult and a child. His characterization is VERY accurate, and has me both loving him for his obvious enthralling and innocent enrapture with life, but also feeling the pain and frustration of being unable to understand things.
There was a reoccurring theme in this book as well; the metaphor of people having their own corners of the universe that they live in, understand, and love. I think that’s very true. While there are some things that I completely enjoy, I can also totally see how they are out of other people’s understanding to enjoy or love as much as I do, and vice versa. This book, in fact, very much reminds me of the movie Benny and Joon, starring a lovely Johnny Depp and super sweet Mary Stuart Masterson. About two people who find that their corners of the universe may not be so different, and that love arrives in the most unexpected packages. This movie, and this book, make me want to grilled cheese sandwiches with an iron again, and to meet carnival children. But maybe that’s not my corner of the Universe. Maybe my corner of the universe is an obsession with hamsters, a passion for chocolate, and a past filled with regrets. And more.
What’s your corner of the Universe?