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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 6 April 2012
This books reads like it's been written by a teenager. The over use of one-liner gags ( and in fact they're more like three liners ... and they weren't funny with just one line ... with three it's just triple the embarrassment ) totally detracts from anything the book has to say . Merlin's depiction as a caricature betrays the real point the novel could have made. Shame , wasted opportunity Miss Lette. I'd rather have donated my money to the ASF ( Aspergers Syndrome Foundation ) which I would advise any potential buyers to do. It's a thinly disguised chick-lit piece of fluff masquerading as a book with a purpose. And yes , I have a son with Aspergers also . From the reviews above , seems like we've all fallen into the same trap of thinking it may actually have been a useful insight into the condition.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Previously I have only read articles by Kathy Lette. Her writing style is electrically individual and unusual; the only other writer who comes close is Jilly Cooper with her multitude of loaded clichés and double entendres. Kathy enthusiastically makes them up; almost every paragraph has a freshly minted simile, everything is `like' some other mad/ funny idea. So for me, short articles and interviews are an easier way of enjoying her zany outlook and wise cracking way. A whole book full can be a little much, overly rich; the material comes over as more suited to a fast-talking stand up comedienne. I began to rather yearn for a simple, clear, ordinary sentence.

Merlin is a masterpiece. His unique utterings work perfectly. Kathy knows her subject, I have seen and heard her being interviewed about this her latest book, and bravely for the first time she openly explains that her own son Julius, 21, has Asperger's. Her `research material was in the bedroom next door'. `People with Asperger's have no filter - they say exactly what they're thinking' she tells us. From time to time I would say she does the same...

Life with him has been the ultimate parenting challenge so her writing has an impeccable source. He has read this book and champions it as a great way for others to learn to understand kids like him. So really ringing true, the golden thread of Merlin's story takes off, lifting the reader away from the cruder, obsessive behaviour displayed by his mother Lucy. Lucy, a teacher, has no chance of a boyfriend although she does try, sometimes hilariously. Lucy/Kathy's completely understandable anxiety and fraught overwrought love for a fine, `differently able' son offers an important insight into the way things are for such families. Kathy has used humour in the past to deflect the personal. Now she is opening up. And good for her.

For most of the book, Lucy is brittle, damaged and difficult. Her shallow husband Jeremy abandoned her within months of Merlin's diagnosis. He squeezes her alimony to the least possible contribution and flits off to the USA with his new girlfriend. Lucy relentlessly battles with educational and social services - authority - and makes your heart bleed for her. Her family support is intermittent; her mother gives all her time and love to lost causes all over the world, only helicoptering in occasionally to issue edicts about Lucy's love life. Her sister Polly is more reliable but her career as cabin crew takes her away. Polly is very sweet and kind, I liked her most of all. Jeremy's parents are just dreadful.

Eventually a surprising new helper, Archibald, an Aussie written again with authority, arrives to help and with Merlin reaching his teens things change. The book quickly moves on into quite amusing chick lit territory, still with the same sometimes overwhelming array of occasionally painful, mostly overwritten puns. Looking at Kathy's other 10 books I see that this is probably her most significant in that she has a personal account to offer. No bad thing to be able to laugh/cry along with her over the crazy things that happen - I realised that was a great coping strategy - reacting in apparently an over the top way somehow turned the whole experience into an entertaining enlightenment. There is a strong drama theme too. Overall I liked it a lot.

n.b. Kathy Lette has written reams of references to rude bits and graphic descriptions of love making often without the love part so this book could be described as x rated - unlike The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time which could be read by younger children.

p.s. another excellent read about this subject is House Rules by Jodi Picoult.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 March 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Deserted by her well-to-do husband Jeremy shortly after the birth of their son Merlin, diagnosed as autistic, Lucy has to battle on alone caring for Merlin while trying to hold down her job as an English teacher. When Merlin is in his teens Archie turns up on Lucy's doorstep - he's come to stay. An ageing Australian rocker the complete opposite of the refined Jeremy Archie is a mixed blessing, lazy and uncouth Lucy wants shot of him, but he seems to be able to work magic with Merlin, and maybe his magic will extend further? Inevitably Lucy succumbs to Archie's questionable charms, but no sooner does she fall into his arms than Jeremy returns claiming to be a reformed character and hoping to win back his former bride.

Lucy tells her own story of raising her difficult but adorable son, aided and supported by her widowed mother older sister and occasionally by the men in her life - that is when they are not part of the problem, men do not generally come off well here; a story that covers sixteen years.

The Boy who Fell to Earth is very well written, the sentences flow with consummate ease. Kathy Lette provides Lucy with an abundant supply of imaginative and witty similes and metaphors which go a long way to establishing Lucy's acerbic character, a character for whom sarcasm comes as second nature. Other characters tend to be fall into stereotypes: the devious cad, the good hearted rascal, the pompous snob, compassionless officials; against these Merlin is a compete contrast, open and appealing.

I found this a very funny and very entertaining novel, yet while enjoying it on one level I was disappointed with it on another. I had hoped that this would provide some meaningful insight on living with an autistic child. It does offer some information on the subject, but the story in its telling does not convince. It is first of all much more Lucy's story than Merlin's, how she copes with the trials set before her and the effects they have upon her, but I did not feel we really came to understand the complexities of Merlin and his difficulties. The account primarily seems sets to play for the humour, and all else has to service this, as a result it tend to be shallow when it comes to the offering up any comprehension of life with autism.

If you simply want a good read this will not disappoint, but if you are hoping for a believable account of raising an autistic boy I think this will let you down. I am not commenting on authenticity here, that I cannot comment on (after all I was hoping to learn with this novel), the difficulty here is with realism, it is on this count that I feel it fails. That it often handles Merlin's problem with an inappropriate air of flippancy some may also find distasteful.
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on 7 April 2012
The Boy Who Fell To Earth I bought this book after seeing a television interview with the author. I understood that the book was to be a true account of living with an autistic child. It turned out to be fiction with a lot of unnecessary swear words. Very disappointing.
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VINE VOICEon 8 March 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I don't normally read chick-lit - the back cover descriptions usually leave me cold and I find it difficult to empathise (or sympathise) with the fashion and sex-obsessed cardboard cut-outs that seem to people them. But I happened to catch Kathy Lette being interviewed about this book, which she described as the female-focussed counter point to Mark Haddon's "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time". Lette based the book partially on her own experience with an autistic child, although she insists that the romantic elements are purely fictional (as she is still happily married to the father of said child).

Having trained alongside teachers who worked with autistic children, parts of Lette's book are sadly all too familiar - butting heads with bureaucracy and organisations that don't see individuals only one-size-fits-all solutions. In this respect, the book is immensely frustrating, because you know that this is happening every day to people desperately in need of help.

On the other hand this is, somewhat perversely, an easy read; Lette's use of language is far from complex, although it is very earthy in places - trust me, this is not a book for prudes. Many of the characters are stereotypes (I thought disapproving mother-in-laws went out of fashion as the butt of jokes in the 1970s), but they serve their purpose as an easily accessible shorthand. There is humour, too - some of it quite black, some of it cringeworthy.

But, once you strip away the autism element, this becomes a by-the-numbers story: woman marries handsome toff, handsome toff abandons her for a trophy bimbo, woman finds happiness with gruff but kind gargoyle, handsome toff returns to sweep woman back off feet, etc. before the all too predictable ending. As a result, the book comes off as a mawkish fairy-tale wish-fulfilment meets Forrest Gump affair and is very much a wasted opportunity. I think I'll stick to watching Lette's interviews...
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on 20 July 2016
After reading the sample download I was hooked enough to buy the rest of the book - then discovered that the best part of the book is the prologue and the first chapter. I was expecting a novel about an autistic or Asperger child, what I got was a completely trashy novel mainly focusing on the lack of sex life of the mother. Far from feeling sympathy for the woman I found myself becoming increasingly irritated by her so-called wit and humorous comments, most of which are not funny at all. I felt that Ms Lettes was trying to show off how 'educated' she is but just comes across as being smug and superior! A couple of chapters are actually embarrassing to read, just the idea of discussing my sex life graphically with my mother and sister makes my toes curl, and I think most women would hate their mother talking like this. I appreciate that a single parent with a child that is in any way outside ' the norm' may find it difficult to form a relationship, but this whole area could have been handled so much better. Another issue I have with the novel is that I didn't feel I knew any more about the mother at the end of the book than at the start apart from deciding I didn't like her very much. She seems to have no friends (although there is vague reference late in the book where she mentions losing touch with them) which isn't completely surprising for such a dull character, and she seems to have not considered joining any sort of support group where she'd meet other parents with the same difficulties. My advice to anyone considering buying this in the hope of understanding Aspergers or autism a bit more is not to bother and to watch the adorable Daniel in Channel 4s 'The Undateables' instead
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VINE VOICEon 9 December 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Sadly, The Boy Who Fell To Earth fails to hit the nail on the head and be the book it was meant to be. Riddled with clichés which are, at times, borderline offensive, the book manages to give an absolutely obscure view of Asperger's Syndrome- which can be incredibly fascinating because of it's complexity. Whilst I'm sure the author's intent was to match the genius of novel's such as Curious Incident, she falls far short and as such has published a mediocre account (at best) which fails to grip, impress or captivate her audience.
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on 13 May 2013
I wanted to get an insight into parenting an Aspergers child when I purchased this book. It's comprised of lists and lists of cringeworthy cliches and stereotypical characters. What a shame. If the author hadn't aimed this book at readers of chick lit, it might have been more worthy.
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on 21 March 2012
This book shamelessly pretends to be about an autistic child, but in reality this is just a ploy to sell a novel about a single woman in her mid thirties shagging around to find "Mr Right". The middle section was so mind-numbing that I flicked through most of it. The writing style insults the reader's intelligence.
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on 4 April 2012
I was disappointed by Kathy Lette's flippant and superficial approach to the subject of parenting a child with Asberger's syndrome. I feel the novel provided her with a vehicle to over indulge in the amusing aspects, while conveniently ignoring the many and more serious aspects of the condition, which inevitably try and worry the parents of autistic children. If, as Lette claims, her intention is to raise awareness of autistic spectrum disorders, in order to benefit her son and other sufferers of this fascinating condition, I feel a more rounded and honest approach would have been more helpful in creating an interesting, entertaining and informative read. I agree with the reviewers who found Lette's constant one-liners irritating and wearing. Her over-the-top writing style leads me to believe that she herself may suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, which is closely linked to Asberger's syndrome. I wouldn't recommend this novel to anyone looking for anything more than a light-weight chicklit read.
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