Blogging for Books · books · memoir · Uncategorized

Life with Aspergers…


This is a fascinating look at the life of someone with Asperger’s syndrome.  It is not a textbook study of Aspergers it is simply the story of one man’s life.  Robison tells stories about his life to illustrate what his life was like as a child, young adult, and successful business man. The stories are interesting, funny, brave, sad and honest.Robison was not diagnosed with Aspergers until he was forty.  All his life he was thought of as weird, difficult, social misfit, unable to learn, a trouble-maker.  The list of negatives could go on but the truth is he is odd, difficult, socially inept and a prankster, but intelligent, and a hard worker. He was told he was a failure who would never amount to anything but he has had a successful life in more than one business career, is married, has a son, writes books, consults and speaks about Aspergers.

Robison writes about his family, a mentally ill mother, alcoholic father, and a younger brother. He tells about trying to make friends but having no idea how to, having it suggested by school authorities he should leave school which he did at sixteen.  He tells about the pranks, some very serious that could have been disastrous, and his girlfriend who became his first wife and mother of his son. His awareness that he could fix just about any machine or electric device opens up a whole new world for him. The stories are amazing and are humorous yet often heartbreaking.

When Robison was forty a friend who is a psychologist realized John has Aspergers.  When the friend gives John a book about Aspergers he begins to understand that he is not weird just different and that he can learn social skills and how to look at people and have a conversation. As he begins to understand why he is different he can see himself and the world around him more clearly.  His second wife plays a major part in helping him see that he is perhaps eccentric but not a misfit. She also helps him understand people and how to interact with them.

Some of his accomplishments besides his writing, speaking and consulting are; one of his first jobs was working and traveling with rock bands as a sound and lighting expert, including the band KISS, working for Milton Bradley in research and development of new action toys, and now owning his own business repairing and restoring fine automobiles.

As I said this is not a textbook. It is a memoir told plainly without undue sentimentality.It is not filled with medical jargon or hard to grasp theories. It is just a man telling his story and well worth reading.

This book was sent to me without charge by
Blogging_for_Books_Lockup_1a in exchange for this review.

Blogging for Books · books · memoir · non-fiction

There are misfits everywhere…

Black Cat Book Review


Spiritual Misfit by Michelle DeRusha

Michelle DeRusha was raised in church but she didn’t believe what she heard there. She married a man who did believe. She went to church with him most of the time or at least some of the time. For a while that was okay with her.  She didn’t need God in her life, forspiritualmisfit twenty years that is what she thought. Then she and her husband and small son moved from their home in Massachusetts to Nebraska where she had no friends or extended family.  Now she began to question God, if He existed, what was He all about and why was He so important?

She would look at other people at church and know that she wasn’t like them, she didn’t fit in, she didn’t belong.  That was when she began asking herself why and did it matter?  She was more attentive in church, bought a bible, went to bible study, and small group. She spent a lot of time frustrated with the answers of other people and the way they seemed so sure they were right.  The answers to her questions were unclear and often confusing.

She continued on her journey and came to faith, her faith.  Faith in God who she knows is real. She believes and doubts and journeys on knowing it is okay to doubt.  There are few black and white answers and she is sometimes uncomfortable in her faith.She knows that doesn’t change God  but it does change her when she honestly seeks Him.

This book may be surprising to some in its honesty and candor.  DeRusha writes clearly with humor, and without apology for who she is, which to this reader was refreshing.  This would be a good book for someone who struggles with doubts or someone who doesn’t understand a friend or family member who has doubts.


Blogging for Books provided this book to me
free of charge in exchange for an honest review.


Bark for Your Park · books · memoir · non-fiction · Thursday · Uncategorized

Thursday, this is someone I know…

Black Cat Book Review


Knee Deep and Rising by Bob Walkup

This is a book of short stories about a man’s life.  A man who has traveled the world, a minister, husband, father, mentor, friend.  A man of humor and faith, intelligence, love, personal challenges and hope.  His stories reveal a man of honor and humility who has had an interesting life that he shares openly, the good and the not so good.

Bob tells his many stories in an easy conversational way.  They are down to earth and engaging.  He tells of his years as a Presbyterian minister in Floridaknee   and  his travels around the world with the Medical Benevolence Foundation (a Presbyterian ministry) that sound exhausting. And his return to the pulpit in North Carolina.  He accomplished much but it strained his marriage and made some underlying health problems worsen.

Besides his life in ministry there are stories of his childhood in South Carolina, things he learned delivering morning newspapers to neighbors,  his love of baseball, a part-time music career, hard work, school, family.  My favorite stories are the ones about Anne, the girl next door, and their love. There is one story about them and a car with foggy windows   and his father that is too funny.   The story about their first date is sweet and tender.

The hardest  part of his life to read about is his battle with mental illness.  Yet, it is probably where you get to know Bob the best.  His honesty is heart wrenching, his faith is compelling, and his love for Anne, his children, and extended family is transparent.

Bob Walkup has been, and is, on a remarkable journey.  He has written a book well worth reading.  And I don’t say that because Anne is my friend!


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memoir · Tuesday · Two Shoes Tuesday · Uncategorized

Tuesday, rescue–a true story…


Once upon a time there was a young woman
who was widely, madly, crazily in love with a young man.
She did everything she could think of to get him beyond 
“we are just friends”.

Nothing worked.
He was  a good friend, a loving friend,
but never a lover friend.

She sort of gave up, but not really,
if you know what I mean.
She dated other young men.

There was one who wanted to go beyond 
“we are just friends”.  
He was persistent and won her heart,  most of it,
but there was still a part that loved the other.

Late one night on her way home from who knows where,
on a lonely stretch of road,
she lost control of the car and had a terrible accident.
She was thrown from the car and lay on the road.

Someone saw the wreck and called the
Fire Department Rescue Squad.
She was unconscious and barely breathing when they got to her.


To begin CPR one of the EMS team started to cut off her shirt.
As he was removing it she opened her eyes and said,

“Oh, George, why now?  I’ve just been in a terrible wreck.”

Yep, the EMS guy was the young man she wildly, madly, crazily  loved. 

She survived.
EMS man got teased, unmercifully, for a very long time.
They married and had kids.

This is a true story and as true stories often go
she didn’t marry the young man who was with the Rescue Squad.
They are still just friends.


Today, I think you should know this is not my true story but the true story of someone else.

Click on the shoes to see what others have to say.
Click on the shoes to see what others have to say.
books · memoir · Monday · non-fiction · Uncategorized

Monday, life is bitter and sweet…

A Black Cat Book Review

All That Is Bitter And Sweet by Ashley Judd
and Maryanne Vollers

Before reading Ashley Judd’s book what I knew about her:

  • she is beautiful
  • daughter of Naomi Judd, sister of Wynonna
  • award-winning actress
  • once one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood
  • married to a race car driver
  • has homes in Tennessee and Scotland
  • has no children

After reading her book I now know:

  • she had a difficult childhood
  • her mother was self-absorbed and often neglected her
  • college graduate
  • has a Master’s in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard
  • was in rehab for depression and codependency
  • political activist and humanitarian
  • woman of deep faith

Taken from diaries she kept while traveling Africa and Asia as the Global Ambassador for Population Services International the book proves Ashley Judd is more than what you see.  She writes openly about her childhood and how those memories drew her to work on behalf of poor, sick, and disenfranchised women and children of Third World countries.

The accounts of her travels with PSI are hard to read;  the violence and horror is not unexpected. However, the accounts of her often unhappy and sad childhood are surprising. Though she has a good relationship with her mother now, as a child she was often neglected  and  was shuttled between family members, attending thirteen schools before graduating from high school.  Judd writes honestly about those times and it is easy to understand why she struggles with depression.

Judd’s writes about her family without extremes or excuses or blame and reveals some secrets in a straight forward way.  She went through a lot when a little girl and is a strong woman now, perhaps because of it.

There is some mention of her career as an actress and her private life now, but, clearly this is a book about the passion she has for her humanitarian work and how it led to her political activism.  The stories she tells of the women and children victims of sexual violence and slavery are chilling.  They are not second-hand stories but stories from Judd’s meetings with the victims in their own environments. 

Her first trip with PSI began a journey of not only commitment to the forgotten and uncared for victims of abuse but a journey of self-discovery and deepening faith.  This book is well worth reading not only to be made aware of the unspeakable that is happening everyday in the world but also as a testament of the survival and courage of those living it.   And it is the story well worth reading of a quiet dismissed little girl who grew up to be a woman of insight, courage, passion, faith, and determination to make the world a better place.

Ashley Judd is not just a pretty face.


Black Cat · memoir · Monday · non-fiction · Uncategorized

Monday, not really a book review…

A Black Cat Book Review


Once Upon a Secret by Mimi Alford

In 1962 nineteen year old Marion “Mimi” Beardsley was a summer intern in the press office of the White House.  That summer the affair with President John F. Kennedy began; it ended in 1963 when he was assassinated.  This book is her memoir of those eighteen months and how they affected the rest of her life.

To say that what Alford has written disturbed me is an understatement.  My reactions while reading her story were many and varied and sometimes contradictory.  Shock, anger, sadness, amusement, disbelief, were some of my reactions and feelings about this affair.  When you read “affair” if you think of romance, candle-lit dinners, music, how the movies and novels usually portray affairs…think again.  This was a sexual affair and nothing more.

Alford describes the affair as “WAIT”.  She would be told where to be and there she would be, waiting, until JFK showed up.  She occasionally travelled with the White House entourage.  She would wait in hotel rooms until the President wanted her then she would be escorted to his room.  JFK was a very busy man.  He was the President, after all!  So she was available when he “wanted” her.

Although, many in the White House, staff, JFK’s valet, the residence cook, some of his friends, and the Secret Service, knew of the affair and often facilitated their meetings, Alford kept it secret.  She told the man she was engaged to the day of the assassination and later her sister and two friends but she told no one else.  These four people kept her secret safe.  It was not until 2003 with the publication of An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy 1917-1963 by Robert Dallek that she spoke publicly about her affair with the President.

I cannot really objectively review this book and I am not going to try.  Alford seems to be honest in her telling of what happened.  She does not make excuses for herself and relates some of their encounters quite candidly.  Some would say she let herself be used and at first that is what I thought.  But with further reflection I realize that she was very young and naïve.  She had a sheltered and protected up-bringing and was inexperienced.  She was totally unprepared for some of the egos and self-entitlements in the powerful world of politics and politicians. 

Mimi Alford has moved on as they say; married, had children, divorced, remarried, has grandchildren, come to terms with the past, and written this book.  I can, almost, understand her as her nineteen year old self but I do not understand her as her seventy year old self.

I think what disturbs me the most is how Alford is still enamored of Kennedy and defends the man and his actions. The man treated her despicably!  As I said I  cannot review this book. I think what I have done is to try and give you my impression of the two people involved.