I have a weakness for non-fiction that talks about tough topics. I spot a book about disability, being different, diversity, suffering, all that stuff… I click buy. Request. Read. That’s just who I am.
Come on, does the cover not already capture you? How could someone love too much? How can there be too much love???
These questions are easily answered within the first few pages of the book. It’s not even fictional, although the title may mislead you! The story told belongs to Eli, a boy who was born quite different from most little boys. So special, that he’s the only such person in a group of 10,000 to 20,000 his fellow countrymen (Americans, in this case). Eli has Williams syndrome and he pretty much represents a lost branch of humanity, one that just didn’t make it genetically (because Williams is a genetic disorder), but one that nonetheless continues, for the diversity of our genetic material. If we want to survive, we must have a bit of everything in our collective genes every now and then.
So what does it mean to have Williams? It means that your brain is wired in such a way that makes you basically fall in love with any person you see. You trust everyone. You erect no boundaries between yourself and the world. All of this sounds like the dream from a New Age self-helf book, doesn’t it? Indeed, but… With one small, but crucial difference. If you self-helped your way into loving and trusting everyone, you know where to stop. Eli does not.
So yes, Eli could totally walk away with that creepy dude in the mall. And he would probably give all his money to someone if they promised to be his friend. Because what people with Williams crave so much is love, unconditional love – like the kind of love they give. But they rarely get it. Because we don’t often love people who are different. We’re not wired to.
And this is the thing that will make you marvel, that will make you cry for Eli and others with Williams, and that will still make you slightly jealous of who they are. This is also the part of the story that will make you wonder whether we’re the right part of humanity that survived. Yes, I believe the world would be better if everyone was like Eli, but unfortunately, this harsh universe is tough for people with Williams, and not just because of society. You don’t just go hug a tiger that wants to eat you.
(You can say that to someone next time they shove the you the “if everyone was ascended” crap.)
So basically, this book will give you a lot to think about. It will not leave you unmoved. And the most important thing – even if it’s astronomically unlikely you will ever meet a person with Williams, you will now know how to interpret what’s going on. And I think that is why all of us should read books like this. This world isn’t made for the winners, like the media and the current narrative wants you to believe. This world is made for everyone. And we must understand that if there were no people with lower IQ, there would also not be any geniuses. Science, people:
(And yes, people with Williams often suffer from lower IQ and spatial recognition problems, as well as some physical disorders)
My blogging career actually started with reviewing My Heart Can’t Even Believe It – it’s a book about a girl with Down’s syndrome. It taught me a lot, and it was also my first review that garnered unheard of attention for me back then.
(a whopping 14 likes. Go figure! We all gotta start somewhere…)
It kicked off my desire to write reviews about things that matter. So I carried on with The Radium Girls, and now – with The Boy Who Loved Too Much. I believe that all of us should read more about these things. It’s not alright to just cover your eyes and say “but I’m normal”. It’s not good enough. So let’s be better. Let’s educate ourselves. Three words:
#diversity #disability #equality
And I leave you with these recommendations if you want to read more about related topics (the last one is not about disability, and I have yet to read it, but an important topic nonetheless):
Have you ever heard of Williams syndrome? Do you often read books about disabilities or diversity?
I’m Evelina and I try to blog about books that matter, with a bit of fun there too! Disability and equality will be topics you see a lot, but there’s also a lot of scifi, fantasy and… GIFs. I’m also the proud founder of #ARCsAnonymous.