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"This book tells the story of Isabel's life from early childhood to young adulthood, growing up in Spain in the 1970s and 1980s. It is told through the voice of Isabel as she struggles to make sense of her bewildering world of family rules and social norms, where children are expected to do as they were told without discussion. Isabel is the fifth child of seven, watching both her older and younger siblings' interests and behaviour through the lens of a little girl who finds it difficult to play and engage with others.
Isabel is a serious little girl who watches everything, seeing minute details in every aspect of her life. Repeatedly she describes the anxiety she feels of "not knowing" what is going to happen and when she might be expected to do something outside of her comfort zone. The stories of her traumatic start at school, the tonsillectomy, her father's terrifying behaviour towards his children, and her adolescent emotions and first experience of sex are told with vivid attention to detail.
Although autism is never explicitly mentioned in this book, Isabel's struggles to make sense of the world, her ability to focus with such intensity and the overwhelming anxiety that she experiences are all features of girls and women with Asperger's syndrome, or autism. Indeed, the behaviour of Isabel's father, Roberto, suggests that he too is on the spectrum, with behaviours that make him frightening and unpredictable to a child.
This book has been sensitively written and the story is engaging and unpredictable. It also gives insight into how a girl who might be on the autistic spectrum struggles to cope with the demands of social and family life. I can thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who likes to read about family sagas or who is interested in childhood and autism."
- Anita Hughes, Chartered Educational Psychologist.