||Jan 03, 2011
Solidly on the autistic spectrum, Kim's story has you crying on one page and tearing up on the next. Told in her vivid imagery, one is taken to her world of chaos and beauty where she faces challenges head on, challenges that may have made even non-autistics crumble.
Publication Date: April 11, 2012
To Kim Tucker, solidly in the Asperger's section of the autism spectrum, the colors blue and green and gray are not just colors, but rather whole worlds of iridescent life. Likewise, to say that Under the Banana Moon is full of laughter and love and heartbreak is to only scratch the surface. Growing up, Kim couldn't speak when there was more than one person present, and sometimes even then her words failed her. But she could always write. More comfortable in the company of cats, or passing notes to grandmother, she found peace where she could, and avoided the frightful parts of the world—like anything that was the color green. But school brought whole new worlds of fear: other kids. Their words and feelings were indecipherable. Their touch was toxic. She survived with scars. As a teenager, she felt the same urges as her peers but went about it in extreme ways: when she drank, she went to the hospital; when she dated, she got married. Her husband, Howie, was her high school sweetheart. He was also her best friend and the father of her three children. He took care of her and managed her disability. When he was diagnosed with ALS, their roles reversed, the world collapsed—but they kept going. Some things Kim could never learn (like how to drive a car... without crashing), but some things she could. Like how to help her husband die, and how to live to tell the story. In her book, as in her life, tears and laughter are like a rhyming couplet, similar expressions of the same deep feeling. Only with both can Kim tell her story which is, in the end, about perseverance, and joy, and love beyond lifetime.available in ebook AND print.
To say I cried when I read Kimberly's book is an understatement. I cried buckets. But this is not a miserable book, far from it. It's a gritty, gutsy, moving, sometimes even funny book about the worst and best of life.
It's a book about childhood and innocence, and about entrapment, selling-out and smiling whilst you do the unbelievable, simply because your back is to the wall and you damned well have to.
Kimberly's husband, Howie, develops ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), one of the most chal-lenging of all diseases and one which stripped him of almost every function, with the exception of his intellect and sexuality.
Kimberly, a remarkable woman with Asperger's struggling with life-long selective mutism lives in an invisible cage of her own, struggling with being known, being dependent on others, showing her feelings openly.
Yet in their incredible journey together it is Howie's obvious imprisonment that over-shadows Kimberly's own at every turn. In spite of very real anxiety disorders, anxiety disorders her own invisible cage compels her to hide from others, she is expected to 'pull herself together' and function where many non-autistic adults would crumble. The crazy thing is, she does.
There are many on the autistic spectrum who do not feel excruciating social phobia to the degree they are compulsively compelled to hide, lose their natural voice, their connection to their own expressions and actions, but as the author of Exposure Anxiety; The Invisible Cage of In-voluntary Self Protection Responses, I know of these things too well and I know where Kimberly has been. Most people with severe Exposure Anxiety as part of their autism don't speak and Kimberly surely struggled and still does, with verbal communication.
We are not all desperate for attention, easily to accept praise, cope with feeling over-whelming gratitude or connection, or want to be known. Some of us are lucky if we manage that with a single friend or partner and Kimberly achieved that, only to lose that partner. What's so much more remarkable is that whilst Kimberly has an obvious natural rapport with others on the autistic spectrum, she was also able to dare to be known by her non-autistic husband who often couldn't see her.
For all his faults (and he is unashamedly portrayed here in all his gritty glory) Howie stands out in this book as a real rough diamond. What she's written here is a monument to him, but also an act of enormous daring and self honesty.
Howie was no monster but he was not politically correct either. He was a 'rough-and-ready' type of bloke from the same raw, tell it like it is, reality Kimberly grew up in. She saw him beyond his often insensitive, even flippant reactions and still saw him beyond what his disease reduced him to. She saw him even when she's stopped seeing herself. And it is this that leaves me so awestruck about Kimberly Tucker. I identify with her in so many ways. I am proud of her. Let her hide from the world if she is safest in such a 'cat corner', but her individuality and humanity will still jump out as long as she allows us that window through her ARTism, through her writing. Dare to read this book. She dared to write it. You won't forget it.
Author of the international bestseller, Nobody Nowhere.
The grey house of my childhood, all two stories of it, stood sentinel on a patchy hill by the highway with its windows for eyes. My crooked curtain beyond the bottom porch was a winking lid. The house on the hill had caterpillars that liked to crawl up over the house where the bare board peeked through peeling paint. In the grey of the grey house, you could see sky colors, and looking deeper, you could see the eye colors of my parents, and of Starr. Most of the cousins' eyes were dark; rich, like fine wood or Vermont dirt, creamy as hot chocolate pudding. Not my eyes. My eyes were hazel. Like the nuts.
My room was ordered clutter, piled as curiously as Picasso's art. I never saw the bottoms of the walls where they joined the floor but I assumed they were there. In a feat that seemed to me akin to scaling Everest, I bruised my girl knees climbing the precariously positioned things that walled the valley path to my bed. Who knew when we would need a salvaged bicycle tire, a coat two sizes too big or a little gold corkscrew in the shape of a wicked faced boy- with the flip-up corkscrew being his wee-wee?
My mother chose the pattern for my curtains and bed canopy. Evermore, blue and white checks meant “mother.”
When I dared to dig into the piles, I usually started at the bottom and hoped against thing-slides and object-lanches. I found mysterious outdated gadgets for which I assigned my own uses in the yard. I often smashed thermometers to play with the mercury. Eggbeaters with a jump-rope attached became gas pumps for my bike. With things in my company, I never felt bored or lonely.
When I looked out my window from inside my room, I saw Ilana's weathered porch with its lovely expanse of peeling grey boards jutting out from under my window outside in an interesting linear perspective. Ilana was the woman who rented the apartment upstairs from ours. Later in my life, upon seeing Van Gogh's painting of his room, I would think of the boards of the porch that seemed to distortedly run away from my view. The image of them would remain, as many images do, air-brushed inside my head like a poster.
Ilana greeted these boards daily. Jumping spiders siesta-ed around the porch rails and by the bicycle and old plant pots. One bright day I sat on her porch step thinking about the place between nothing and everything, watching air particles square dance. She came round the corner and greeted me in the eyes. We both looked away. She hoisted up the steps, getting some spiders to hopping. As she passed me, I got an eye-level view of her oversized ankles and legs decorated with purple lines. I couldn't not look at them. Ilana shuffled up past me turtle-like as ever, and across the fine boards, her colorful dress swaying. A puff of white-blonde hair framed her face as she smiled my way with cherry red lips. Her apartment laid spread out on our ceilings like a dark secret. If I could see her things, familiarize myself with the things she surrounded herself with, only then could I, only then would I, know her.
One Halloween, I figured here's my chance! As I stood on the topmost part of her unlit claustrophobia-inducing hall stairs, I knocked on her door. It was incredibly dark. But I sparkled. I was wearing the princess mask with glitter for eye shadow above the eye slits. The door opened a crack, revealing her red painted mouth. Plump fingers crawled through the crack with Chicklets gum. The yellow packet fell neatly into the hollow of the plastic pumpkin.
I strained to see into the room behind her. Was that a stove?! It was crow-black, clunky and so quirky with its funny curving pipe, it reminded me of a type I'd seen illustrated in a storybook. Ilana lived in a cartoon kitchen! Smiling at her doughy hand, she closed her door till it clicked. I heard a clasp latch. My mask dropped a bit on one side. Already the princess was cracked at the single staple that held the elastic band to the yellow plastic hair. But insanely, she smiled. Beneath it, I exhaled hot breath from my no-expression face.
Under The Banana Moon living loving loss and aspergers, reviews byHelen L. Irlen, MA, LMFT, and Kathy Hoopmann
"There are many books written by people with various disabilities, but none
quite like "insert title of book" by Kimberly Gerry-Tucker. This is not
just the story of someone with a rare condition; it is the life story of a
little girl growing up to have children of her own dealing with life and
death issues. Her world comes alive with each word and page - a world that
will captivate you and embrace you as the ordinary become extraordinary.
Woven throughout the richly written experiences of her life are the
exceptional experiences of being different so that even the abnormal becomes
normal. Communication impairment doesn't stop you from living a full and
complete life; and regardless of the diagnosis for each individual, there is
hope to live life to the fullest."
Helen L. Irlen, MA, LMFT
Executive Director Irlen Institute International HQ
PPS Credentialed School Psychologist
Adult Learning Disability Specialist
Board Certified Professional Counselor
Reading by the Colors: A Piece of the Puzzle
Helen L. Irlen, MA, LMF
"Brutally honest and beautifully written. Kimberly’s poetic prose bares
her world with candid, innocent openness. The issues she has coped with
would destroy most people yet despite her selective mutism and Asperger’s
Syndrome she comes through ‘embracing the perfection of imperfection’. As
you read, you will laugh and cry and feel humbled and privileged that you
have been given a glimpse into the life of an extraordinary woman."
Kathy Hoopmann, author of ''All Cats Have Aspergers Syndrome''
Under The Banana Moon living loving loss and aspergers, review by Keri Bowers
"(Your way with words reminds me of my favorite modern author, Augustine Burroughs 'Running with Scissors'. Keri with love.) More than a beautiful story of love, loss and life, Kimberly’s superbly written memoir is in a sense, a call to action. As it effortlessly weaves words in patterns of deliciously deep inspiration, it also calls upon us to reflect upon our own challenges and breakdowns and to dream big. The reader will undoubtedly relate and fall under the spell of Kimberly’s incredible gift to us - where we can see and feel life beyond the appearances of breakdowns.
With each page turned, I held my breath and let tears flow. I am blessed and better for the read. Bravo Kimberly and your journey of living, loving, loss, Asperger’s and selective mutism - and now, triumph, indelible forever." ----Keri Bower, filmmaker, motivational speaker, advocate, author, (http://normalfilms.com/ARTS.html)
NOTE :Keri interviewed me in her docu-film called ARTS and my painting, "self portrait, shattered image" appears on the cover of the book called "ARTISM, the art of autism, shattering myths about people living on the spectrum" It is an honor to have my work on the cover of this book. Keri Bower and Debbie Hosseini are touring with this book. (http://artismtoday.com/) My poetry and artwork in the second book in this series: ARTISM
Under The Banana Moon living loving loss and aspergers, review by Wendy Lawson
"Upon reading Kim’s book I found myself involved in her story and journey, not only as an onlooker but also as a fellow traveler. Kim’s attention to detail, her own awareness of herself and that of others, is stunningly real and honest. There is no ‘beating about the bush’ here and no watering of stuff down to make it more palatable. The raw emotive connections, as one travels with Kim, are reminiscent of a bygone era of childhood realities, social niceties and dark memories most of us would like not to remember. I identify with so many of her likes and dislikes. These include her love, admiration and telepathic communication with those beloved cats and other animals, as well as her sensory discomforts of things that could not be touched. Kim’s story is as unique, old fashioned and as modern as sliced bread. It is one I feel the better for having read and one that will stay with me for a very long time. Thank you Kim for humbly sharing yourself with so many of us!"
----Dr. Wendy Lawson PhD MAPS, researcher, psychologist, writer & poet has operated her own private practice for many years. Wendy was awarded fourth place as ‘Victorian Australian of the year’ in 2008. Originally diagnosed as being intellectually disabled, then in her teens as being schizophrenic, and finally in 1994, Wendy was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. The mother of four children, two of her sons are also on the autistic spectrum. Wendy is passionate about the rights of those who so often cannot speak for themselves and aims to promote justice and equality for all.
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