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Highlights in the Charts

Girl Unmasked: How Uncovering My Autism Saved My Life by Emily Katy

Reviewed by Arabella Petts


Over recent months, I have been trying to find more books to read about autism, and the ones I have read have been absolutely excellent, so I am pleased to say that Girl Unmasked lived up to the standard that has been set. 


This is a deeply personal and powerful memoir in which Emily shares her struggles of growing up, not knowing why she feels so different, and how, after being diagnosed with autism at sixteen, she comes to understand her authentic self and begins to turn her life around.


The focus of this book is autism, but we also learn about Emily’s experiences with OCD and anxiety, along with other mental health conditions, and how the traits can overlap and exacerbate each other. This book also shines a light on how health services in the UK do not always provide adequate support to autistic women, with Emily outright being told by medical professionals that she is not autistic despite showing obvious signs. This acts as a reminder that there is still a lot of work to be done for autism awareness and acceptance.


Although this can be, at times, quite an emotional read, it’s incredibly engaging and fast-paced, taking us through the stages of Emily’s life with a chronology that allows us to understand everything perfectly. She provides an insight into what it can be like to be autistic (emphasis on ‘can’ as the saying goes, “if you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person”), and she doesn’t try to cover too much; the result is, in my opinion, the perfect book.


Reading about how Emily has been able to overcome her barriers to actively pursue her dream career and write a book about her experiences gives all of us who have faced problems in our lives confidence that there will be a positive outcome in the future, and this was genuinely joyous to read.


I know this book will deeply resonate with many autistic people across the world, as well as those suspecting that they may be autistic and are looking for experiences similar to their own. I think that family members and friends of autistic people will also find this memoir incredibly eye-opening, and it will allow them to understand that person in their lives a little bit better. Hopefully, it will implore those not personally affected to keep researching and continue being an advocate. This Autism Awareness Month is the perfect time to read this if you think you might be interested.


The Seven Year Slip by Ashley Poston 

Reviewed by Becky Connolly 


“You only love once, and if you do it right, once is all you need.” 


The Seven Year Slip by Ashley Poston is a glamorous, addictive romance story following Clementine, a nearly thirty-year-old publisher, and Iwan, a yummy chef who is, quite literally, seven years in the past. 


Clementine is grieving the sudden loss of her aunt – her eccentric, beautiful aunt with whom she used to travel the world – all whilst living in her aunt’s old apartment, which has been left to her. At the start of the novel, Clementine has just dumped a guy, she’s working (as always) and she has put down her paintbrush. Then, she gets home and there’s a mysterious man there. Normally a cause for concern, but this apartment is different. “This apartment is magical.”


Before reading, I was hesitant. Would this book be too convoluted? Too far-fetched? Would it be a great premise but not great in execution? I could not have been more wrong. 


A driving force behind this novel is Clementine’s relationship with her aunt. She is trying to deal with the grief whilst being in the very place that reminds her of her loss the most, trying to balance the loss of those memories and the carefree spirit Clementine was with her aunt. I think the representation of grief is incredibly poignant and furthermore, the aunt–niece relationship dynamic is one not often explored in books – especially not in the capacity of loss. One of the things that her aunt was extremely focused on was Clementine’s painting – she’d provide her with travel books for Clementine to paint with when they were abroad. This painting ends up being a symbol of her happiness and also comfort. 


Clementine thinks that men can be confusing at the best of times, let alone when they are seven years behind you and who knows where in the present day. This is a sort of tortured dynamic that I have not encountered so organically before. The concept of the seven-year difference ensures plot twists and character tensions that could not be executed in a different novel. Moreover, Poston is an artist at building an organic and addictive chemistry. Her elegant writing style creates the emotional complexity of both the characters and Clementine’s life, as well as elevating Iwan and Clementine’s love story. 


This book is a richly woven tapestry of loss, love, lust and friendship, and all in such a unique narrative. 

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