Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Tuesday Treat with Heidi Cullinan
On the Spectrum: Derek Paravicini
In Carry the Ocean, Emmet introduces Jeremey to an artist named Derek Paravicini. He’s a real person.
He was born prematurely, and the oxygen therapy to save his life cost him his sight and some of his development. However, Derek had many gifts which made these setbacks little more than an annoyance. By the age of four, he’d taught himself to play piano. Eventually he paired up with his teacher, Adam Ockleford, who perfected his technique and helped him nurture his talent.
Derek can improvise with a skill few can match, and he can play any music once he’s heard it once.
You can view a TED talk “In the Key of Genius” online and see Derek play for yourself.
Emmet can’t play piano the way Derek can, but like many people with autism, he has some special skills of his own.
He’d learned more about my roommate in ten minutes than I’d learned in a day. “How could you read what he said with his hands without looking at him? And the same for him with you?”
“We both have camera eyes. It’s easy.”
“You have what?”
“Camera eyes. A lot of autistic people can see things like camera pictures. We use our peripheral vision to see things, and we can remember what we see. It’s why sometimes we get overwhelmed in busy places. We take too many pictures.”
This potentially explained so much about Emmet. “Are you telling me right now, though you’re not looking at me, you’re looking at me? I mean, even though your eyes aren’t focused on me, for you they are?” Every time I said it, the words didn’t make sense.
Emmet smiled, understanding anyway. “Yes. I can show you. We’ll play a game. Hold up a number with your fingers and I’ll tell you. You can try to hide it a little to make it challenging.”
I did try, and he never, not once, failed to know exactly how many fingers I held up. I went into the house and got a book to hold up, and as soon as I held it close enough, he could read it from the side as well as he could in the front. In fact, it wasn’t as close as I’d have had to have the book reading it the usual way.
“That’s amazing.” I put the book down and shook my head. “You’re Superman or something.”
He smiled, but it was a subtle smile. “I am. Super Emmet.”
And that’s just one of Emmet’s superpowers. Read Carry the Ocean to find out what his others are.
The Roosevelt, Book 1
Normal is just a setting on the dryer.
High school graduate Jeremey Samson is looking forward to burying his head under the covers and sleeping until it’s time to leave for college. Then a tornado named Emmet Washington enters his life. The double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he’s autistic.
But Jeremey doesn’t judge him for that. He’s too busy judging himself, as are his parents, who don’t believe in things like clinical depression. When his untreated illness reaches a critical breaking point, Emmet is the white knight who rescues him and brings him along as a roommate to The Roosevelt, a quirky new assisted living facility nearby.
As Jeremey finds his feet at The Roosevelt, Emmet slowly begins to believe he can be loved for the man he is behind the autism. But before he can trust enough to fall head over heels, he must trust his own conviction that friendship is a healing force, and love can overcome any obstacle.
Warning: Contains characters obsessed with trains and counting, positive representations of autism and mental illness, a very dark moment, and Elwood Blues.
Carry the Ocean is available from these fine retailers:
To celebrate the release of Carry the Ocean, Heidi has generously provided us with a digital copy for one lucky commenter. You know how it works! Leave your name and email addy in a comment below to be entered into the random drawing.
Follow along with the Carry the Ocean blog tour and be sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!