Related to: 'Bad Girls'

Julie Sarkissian blogs about the problems facing the protagnist of her debut novel, DEAR LUCY

Something's Wrong With Lucy - But What?

Lucy is different – that much is clear. She speaks like a child, doesn’t recognize social boundaries, flies into rages, and treasures rotten food. Her cognition is impaired, her vocabulary is very limited and she cannot read or write. But what – precisely – is wrong with her is left up to the reader. Lucy is the protagonist of my novel, DEAR LUCY, and from the first sentence of the book I ever wrote it was obvious that Lucy was cognitively different. The way Lucy describes herself is as “missing too many words.” Her mother calls her “difficult.” Readers of early drafts of the book had a few theories as to Lucy’s condition; autism, Williams Syndrome, Down Syndrome. But Lucy’s mother has kept her from going to school and Lucy has never seen a doctor. So in the fictional reality of the book there is no official diagnosis. But as the novel progressed I wondered – should I have one? I was torn. If Lucy was presenting enough symptoms to point to a real condition, was I ignoring the obvious not to fold that condition into my development of her character? Was it insensitive of me to allude to aspects of certain real, life-altering conditions but not assign a specific condition to Lucy? I worried about appropriating aspects of serious conditions without treating those conditions with proper respect and acknowledgement. And though any clinical diagnosis would probably not be explicit in the novel, I wondered if I would be ignoring an opportunity to bring attention to a real disorder when people asked me about Lucy’s condition, the way The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time did for autism. On the other hand, I had concerns that if I chose a diagnosis for Lucy, I would be ascribing to her qualities that she wouldn’t have otherwise presented. Lucy had her own will over my writing and over the novel. I didn’t want to yoke Lucy’s expression by keeping her behavior and abilities consistent with a clinical condition. Accuracy would also become a critical issue if Lucy’s condition was named. Ultimately I chose not to diagnose Lucy, though I worry the artistic freedom provided by that decision comes at the price of being judged for being too liberal with my treatment of cognitive disorders. Now that publication is a few months away, I am apprehensive of how my treatment of Lucy’s cognitive limitations will be judged. I have yet to talk to a reader who has a learning different child, or works with learning different people, and that conversation is one I will be honored, and not a bit anxious, to have.

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The official print edition of the internet phenomenon. Already over 8,000 five star different reader reviews. (And counting.)It's been six weeks since the angels of the apocalypse destroyed the world as we know it. Only pockets of humanity remain. Savage street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When angels fly away with a helpless girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back...

Akala

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Andrew Rose

Andrew Rose is a barrister and historian.

Caitlin Davies

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Coretta Scott King

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Giles Milton

Giles Milton is a writer and historian. He is the internationally bestselling author of Nathaniel's Nutmeg, Big Chief Elizabeth, The Riddle and the Knight, White Gold, Samurai William, Paradise Lost, Wolfram and Russian Roulette. He has also written three novels and three children's books. His books have been translated into twenty languages. He lives in south London.Find out more about Giles and his books on his website, www.gilesmilton.com, and Wikipedia page, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giles_Milton, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/survivehistory and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/pages/Giles-Milton-Writer/121068034610842.

H.B. Lyle

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Hannah Jewell

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Helen Pankhurst

Dr Helen Pankhurst is a women's rights activist and senior advisor to CARE International, based in the UK and in Ethiopia. She has extensive media experience including national and international radio and print interviews, and was involved in the 2015 film Suffragette. Her work in Ethiopia includes support to program development across different sectors, focused on the interests and needs of women and girls. In the UK she is a public speaker and writer on feminist issues. She also leads CARE International's Walk In Her Shoes event in London - on International Women's Day. Helen is the great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst, leaders of the British suffragette movement. @helenPankhurst

Henry Hemming

Henry Hemming lives in London, UK.

John Julius Norwich

John Julius Norwich was born in 1929. After National Service, he took a degree in French and Russian at New College, Oxford. In 1952 he joined the Foreign Service serving at the embassies in Belgrade and Beirut and with the British Delegation to the Disarmament Conference at Geneva. His publications include The Normans in Sicily; Mount Athos (with Reresby Sitwell); Sahara; The Architecture of Southern England; Glyndebourne; and A History of Venice. He is also the author of a three-volume history of the Byzantine Empire. He has written and presented some thirty historical documentaries for television, and is a regular lecturer on Venice and numerous other subjects. Lord Norwich is chairman of the Venice in Peril Fund, Co-chairman of the World Monuments Fund and a former member of the Executive Committee of the National Trust. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Geographical Society and the Society of Antiquaries, and a Commendatore of the Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana. He was made a CVO in 1993.

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Oliver Tearle

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