The Way Things Look to Me – Roopa Farooki

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 Long Listed for 2010 Orange Prize

The Way Things Look To Me is a simple story about how a brother and sister cope when the death of their mother forces them to care for their little sister, Yasmin, who has Asperger’s syndrome.

The book switches between the viewpoints of the three siblings, showing us their thoughts and frustrations as they try to adapt to their new lives. I was impressed by the distinct differences in their voices and found Yasmin’s narration to be a realistic example of how a person with Asperger’s speaks.

My name is Yasmin Murphy, and sometimes I am so full of things to say that I’ll feel that I’ll burst if I can’t get them out, and will talk, and talk, and talk until I can see people fidget and move uncomfortably

Yasmin is also supposed to have synesthesia, a condition which means that you see words and numbers as distinct colours. I didn’t understand why this was introduced to the book as it was never investigated properly and seemed an unnecessary addition to the plot.

The book was easy to read and contained a few emotional sections, but I felt it lacked something. I think that reading this book so soon after reading Born on a Blue Day was a big disadvantage for it. The two books both mention Asperger’s and synesthesia, but Born on a Blue Day made me feel as though I understood what it was like to have the conditions. The Way Things Look to Me was mildly entertaining, but didn’t have that same deep insight.

Recommended if you are looking for a quick, entertaining read with a bit of emotion, but if you are after any real insight into Asperger’s then I’d look elsewhere.

The thoughts of other bloggers:

Each of the three characters is multi-dimensional and written with great sensitivity and insight. Curious Book Fans

It is very difficult to dislike Roopa Farooki’s novels.  They are as eager to please as puppies, and who doesn’t like puppies, at least hypothetically? Eve’s Alexandria

…this neurotypical enjoyed it immensely. Roopa Farooki knows how to write. Action for Autism

Note: Im aware I’ve broken my New Year’s Resolution in finishing a 3.5 star book, but I’m making exceptions for books about Asperger’s.

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  1. Thanks for the quote. Slightly more positive view from our reviewer though…

    1. Jackie says:

      CuriousBookFan, Yes. Most people seem to enjoy it more than I did. It was OK, but I’m afraid I’m very fussy when it comes to books about Asperger’s.

  2. Sandy says:

    It is encouraging that there are more and more books out there that touch on Aspergers, but the downside is that now you have options and some are going to be better than others. I did like Yasmin’s quote. It reminded me so much of my friend Marianne’s daughter Mary.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, You are right – it is nice to suddenly have so many books that raise awareness of the condition, but it does increase my fussiness. People keep asking me which are the best fiction books to try and there are only a couple that stand out. This isn’t one of them :-(

  3. Lu says:

    3.5 doesn’t seem like a bad score to me! Not that you want MY opinion about YOUR New Year resolutions, but I say you should stop reading 3 and under books, but 3 and above is okay. So you can make a judgment call about 3. ;)

    1. Jackie says:

      Lu, You may be right. I have often found that the 3.5 star reviews are easier to write as I have much more to talk about too – I’ll have to see how it goes.

  4. Jo says:

    It looks lik I enjoyed this more than you. I do agree that as insight into aspergers itself, this book is limited but I think what I liked about it most was its portrayal of how family members reacted to Yasmin’s condition and associated behaviours.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jo, I wanted to slap those characters half the time! I guess that is a sign I was fully engaged with them, but I just found them so annoying! Perhaps if I’d had more sympathy with them then I’d have enjoyed it more, but they brought on most of their problems themselves and so I was rolling my eyes more often than I was rooting for them.

  5. Erin says:

    I’m happy to read a review of this one. I read Half Life by Farooki toward the beginning of 2010 and really loved it; again, it switched between three well-distinguished characters and told a fascinating private sort of story. I haven’t picked up another by Farooki because I’m not really sure where to start! This one does sound interesting, so perhaps it’ll be my next one of hers.

    1. Jackie says:

      Erin, I have read that all her books are similar in style, so if you love one then you’ll enjoy them all. I don’t think I’ll be trying any more of her books as I think they are a bit too light for me, but it sounds as though you’ll like it. Enjoy!

  6. Jenny says:

    There seem to be so, so many books about Asperger’s these days. It’s all fashionable. I wonder if this will still be the case when the next version of the DMV comes out in 2012, and Asperger’s is no longer in it…

  7. Beth F says:

    I haven’t gotten on the Asperger bandwagon and haven’t read any of the books. I know there are really good ones out there, but for some reason I’ve not been drawn to them.

  8. Kathleen says:

    I remember your review of Born on a Blue Day. I remember being fascinated to learn about a condition like that and thought it would be a great read. This one sounds good too and I will pass both on to my friend whose son has Asperger’s. She’s always looking for reads that have Asperger’s-related subject matter.

  9. S. Krishna says:

    I’ve had mixed results with Farooki (loved Half Life, didn’t like Corner Shop), so I’m curious about this book. I don’t know much about Asperger’s, so that might be a good thing when it comes to this book?


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