Sunday, February 25, 2018

Autism Answer: Everyday People: The Color Of Life (Book Review)

Many of you already know that one of my wishes for this world is more diversity in our storytellers. Writers, actors, directors, painters, comedians, producers, etcetera etcetera, need to be of every type. All genders and identities, colors and cultures, abilities and handicaps, styles and beliefs, economic distresses and blessings. In my idea of a perfect world, our storytellers and performers are like The Muppets! Unusual and mismatched and entirely encouraged and embraced. 

Art imitates life and life imitates art and our stories and world should be so diverse and interesting that we are comfortable with being uncomfortably surprised by unexpected people. Until we are rarely uncomfortable because it's just so darn common for folks to be unexpected and different. 

So, knowing how important I feel it is to expect and invite diversity in storytelling you can imagine how excited I was to be offered an advance copy of Everyday People: The Color Of Life - A Short Story Anthology, edited by Jennifer Baker with story contributions by established and emerging writers of color. 

HINT: If you imagined me nearly dropping my computer, jumping up off a couch, squealing and dancing with excitement while my friend looks over at me from her kitchen with a curious expression and asks without a hint of sarcasm, "Did you just win Publisher's Clearing House?" you'd be pretty close to correct. The only thing missing in your imagining are her dogs. But close! Good job, friend! tee hee!

When Everyday People arrived last week I dove in immediately!
The book took my breath away in brilliant and unexpected ways, over and over. Reading so many powerfully crafted stories written directly from (not about) cultures unfamiliar to me felt like experiencing a series of reincarnations. It was dizzying and delightful and eye-opening and awesome!

This book was so well curated - the writers have voices that are confident and vulnerable and authentic and compelling, and every story seemed to understand the necessity of the theme completely, ignoring any temptation to exploit it -  that it reinforced and gave new passion to my belief in diverse storytellers. It was a strange feeling, being dropped over and over again into foreign values and cultures and ways of life. But it also made clear the world of difference between writing ABOUT something and writing FROM it. How enlightening! 

When the world pretends it is being diverse, by adding characters that are colorful (disabled, gay, strong women, sensitive men, people of color, poverty, differing cultures, and the like) but the tellers and actors are not diverse, well, it isn't true. It isn't diverse. It isn't okay. 
Preorder your copy of Everyday People on Amazon!

I always try to be inclusive in my storytelling but I can't tell a story well that comes from a place I've never really been. "Write what you know," is all we can do, although the more gifted storytellers are able to discover untold imaginative treasures in that reality. And I am inclined to believe that if more people were telling their stories and writing what they know, we would all know more.

Everyday People: The Color of Life - A Short Story Anthology is made up of stories that dive deep into expectations, reasons, justifications, self-exploration, insights, hopes, fears, and identity. No two stories feel the same and yet they are all equally moving and engaging. 

I felt myself both missing and found in each story. 
As it is with all the greatest stories.

I am going to keep this book on my desk so I can revisit these feelings often.

I encourage you to get a copy so you can do the same. 

Hugs, smiles, and love!! 
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)


 Thank you, Books for the Soul, for giving me this great gift. I owe you one! 
Hopefully coffee and dancing one night. 
I would freaking love that!