Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Review:: Among Others, by Jo Walton

Title: Among Others
Author: Jo Walton
Format: eBook
Rating: ★★★★★

This book was too much right. It hurt. It made me cry. It was worth every tear.

I read this book in so much pain that my stomach was at my throat. It was blinding. But I had a book to get me through it.

It doesn't matter. I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books.

Among Others is the coming of age story I needed, but never had. It's also the book I needed right this minute, as my body was falling apart and betraying me. No other book has so well described what existing with chronic pain is like. Not just the pain itself, but the social interaction of it.

But that's not even it. The physical pain is nothing compared to the rest of the hurt. The feeling like an outsider. The actually being an outsider.

The book is written with a continual sense of longing and wonder. It feels like what I remember of Bridge to Terabithia, but with more of how I personally felt as a child. I need to reread Bridge to Terabithia. Haven't since I was a kid.

It's that hurt and the blurring of fiction and reality and the constant self doubt and the accepting being alone without looking back too hard. It's living through books because they actually offer something real, unlike reality. It's looking for home, when nowhere's ever felt like where you belong.

I'm no longer an existential teenager, and I often still feel that way.

I feel like I need to use a spell to create a network of friends. I am boggled when people do actually like me, and I can't figure out what I did. If that's how my magic worked, I'd certainly feel guilty, feeling like I'm manipulating people into liking me. Imposter syndrome eats at me every day.

(After all, why are you reading this? Why should anyone care about my opinion?)

It's easy to write off her magic and her world as being an elaborate coping mechanism for the abuse she faces in the day-to-day world. With her mother. Losing her sister. But at the same time, these stories are so much more real to her. Why aren't they her reality? Why shouldn't they be?

I finally found a book that honestly, truly, seriously, made me cry. I can't tell if I was crying for myself or crying for Mori. I can't tell if I'm crying because of the tales I told myself about my neglectful, mentally ill birth-mother who tried her best, but only ended up hurting me whenever she reached out. I can't tell if I'm crying because my refuge was books, and I couldn't never honestly believe when I found a friend. I can't tell if I'm crying because I'm disabled, because I'm neuroatypical. I can't tell if I'm crying because my childhood librarian saved my life. I can't tell if I'm crying because I was the kid who didn't try, but always got good marks.

I think I'm simply crying because this was a book I needed.


  1. This book did that for me, too. And Jo is amazing in person, too; I wish she was my mum.

    1. I can only imagine she's amazing in person... I mean, there are times when I wonder how a specific author (cough speakerforthedeadorsonscottcard cough) could write a specific book, but I don't honestly believe she could have written this unless there was something shining inside of her.

    2. I'm sure there is. She's been lovely to me; she follows my LJ and has given me so much advice and support over the last few years. Re: your comment below about reaching out to her -- I say yes; I'm pretty sure she would love to hear it.

      And if I remember rightly, she actually uses HabitRPG too...

    3. That makes me smile, that she uses HabitRPG! I've added a To-Do to reach out to her. I think it will take me some time to ah, compose myself, though, so I don't just blubber more. (Not that I think blubbering is wrong, but I would like to make some sort of sense.)

  2. I'm so glad you liked Jo's book. I can confirm that Jo is an amazing person. (I've known her for years, mostly online but also we've met at conventions and once or twice we've managed to rendezvous in South Wales when she's been back visiting family.) Quite a lot of Among Others is autobiographical, so Jo knows what she's writing about, especially regarding chronic pain.

    1. I don't do it often, but I'm actually thinking about reaching out to her and thanking her for the book. The more I hear about her, the more I'm thinking it might actually be appreciated, and not just brushed off.