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The Way Things Look to Me Paperback – 4 Sep 2009
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'Lila and Asif care for their young sister Yasmin, but when LIla breaks under the pressure and runs away, Asif has to deal with things along. Unaware of the trouble surrounding her, Yasmin hatches a plan in this beautifullly written book.' --Grazia
'Bittersweet novel of a family in crisis.'
--Woman and Home
' Brilliant!Brilliant!Brilliant!That's all I need to say about this novel,really because I really loved it... Reading this book was like immersing myself in this family's lives - the resentment, the duty, the guilt and the hope for something different.It made me laugh, and pulled at my heartstrings - but ultimately left me with a feeling of understanding and hope long after I turned the last page'
`Forced to rely on each other, Asif and Lila can't help by t resent youngest child Yasmin. Can they all ever be happy?' --Woman
`Beautifully written book'
'There are times when you chance upon a book that combines characters so nuanced, flawed and engaging, they virtually jump off the page. And this novel is one such treat... The narratives of three [main characters] swirl around each other in this warm, wonderful portrait of a charmingly atypical family'
'Yasmin Murphy has Asperger's syndrome and this frank, down-to-earth portrayal of her world is both humorous and poignant' --Waterstone's Books Quarterly
`A tender hearted novel that examines how siblings club together to keep one another afloat. A writer with few pretensions, Farooki is happy to tell it how it is' --Independent
`I absolutely loved the book, as I have both of her previous novels...such great characters painted here, with all sorts of incredible stories, everyone can relate to them...And a wonderful study of Asperger's.'
--BBC Asian Network
My name is Yasmin Murphy, and I don't remember very much about the morning that my mum died, which is odd, as normally I remember everything.See all Product description
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This third novel is her best so far - funny, wise, brave and astonishingly emotionally intense - the action follows three damaged siblings, a brother and his two sisters, across a dramatic London summer, as they cope with the loss of their parents and the youngest sister's Asperger's syndrome. It is full of insights about Autism/Asperger's Syndrome, and the agonies of family relationships and sibling rivalries, as the characters struggle with their feelings of resentment, duty, and love. You really feel their pain, and ultimately their hope.
One of Roopa Farooki's reviews (printed prominently inside the book) describes her as the "new Zadie Smith", but I don't think she needs the comparison - this novel shows her work to be more raw, honest and sincere than Smith's.
I think that The Way Things Look To Me might be the book that finally makes Roopa Farooki as commercially popular as she is critically acclaimed.
Although Yasmin is the lead character and the plot of the novel centres around her, she actually does not play a big part in the story. It is the effect of Yasmin's AS and her need for structure in her life and how that has affected her siblings that is the central point of the novel.
Asif is Yasmin's brother, and since the death of their parents, her carer. Asif is described by everyone as a 'nice boy', he has given up his Cambridge studies, his love-life and his future to do his duty and care for Yasmin. Lila is Yasmin's sister, a self-confessed bitch who lives in chaos, spends hours scrubbing at her eczema blighted skin so as to appear beautiful and treats men as throw-away commodities.
Yasmin is totally self-absorbed, she doesnt have any comprehension of what effect her behaviours have had on her family, as long as her breakfast is yellow and the order of her day is uninterrupted then she is fine.
When a TV production company start to film a documentary about Yasmin and her gifts, Asif and Lila start to unfold. We see how damaged they are underneath their coping exterior.
This is a well-written and well-researched novel, with some very flawed but very understandable and likeable characters. Asif and Lila are the stars of the novel, even is Yasmin is the central pin.
A very emotional story, but also witty and uplifting and compassionately written. Long-listed for the 2010 Orange Prize but sadly did not make the short list.
The story is told by all three siblings in turn with both contemporary stories and flashbacks to past histories being presented so that we are able to follow them through school, on the day when their mother died unexpectedly and as they try to remain a family before and Lila moves away to pursue her own interests. The author presents Yasmin's perspective through a very repetitive and unemotional voice that captures the isolation and frustration of an individual with Asperger's Syndrome.
As they were growing up, Asif and Lila dealt very differently with their sister's condition, and the constraints this placed on their everyday lives. Whereas Asif was helpful and caring, but never felt rewarded for his good behavior, Lila had tantrums, used bad language and misbehaved which led to her being punished but then being comforted by her mother.
A TV crew is making a programme about Yasmin; the run-up to the filming, the filming and the broadcasting of the programme affect all three siblings in different ways, leading to Lila's meeting with a visually-impaired researcher, Henry, to Yasmin's decision to decide what she wants to do and to allow Asif to consider, for the first time, the life that he would like to have if freed from his sister. Readers are invited to consider how they would react to having a sibling with a disability like Yasmin's and whether they would be more like to follow Asif's or Lila's response patterns - to put one's own life, and self-interest on hold or to forget about her for long periods in order to pursue one's own interests, or to adopt a combination of the two.
Asif suddenly finds out that his dreams may actually come true, and Yasmin, as expected, passes her A-levels, Lila openly expresses her frustration and jealousy about her sister to Henry whose own behavior towards her makes her feel ashamed.
Lila's former unpleasant character and behavior, and its consequent change after meeting Henry seemed too good to be true, whilst the background characters were a little too contrived - the sportsman, the gay person, the African-American, the visually-impaired, that I was half expecting a Latino character to pop up at some stage. After having created a very thought-provoking story, the author then ties up all the ends rather too conveniently.
Each of the siblings has strengths and weaknesses, and each had realised by the end of the novel that they had to adapt their behaviour if their individual and corporate difficulties were not to reoccur. Based upon what had happened before, I am not convinced that two of the three would be able to make such changes, but one in three is at least one person living a life that is more satisfying for them and their immediate circle of family and friends.
Haddon's novel was unique in that, for the very first time, it positioned a character with Asperger's Syndrome at its centre and led to a broad discussion of the condition. Farook's novel gives more attention to the immediate environment of a person with Asperger's and to the physical and mental stresses that carers and their families experience. Both books are without sentimentality and showed, with humour and compassion, an exterior world which can be frightening to Asperger's sufferers, their families and to the rest of us.
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