In this double memoir, a mother describes the challenges of raising Emily, her nonverbal child on the autism spectrum. Emily, who finally begins to communicate at the age of 25, offers her own perspective in a mix of storytelling and poetry.
I was instantly drawn into this powerful story ... I was equal parts goose-pimpled and crying, and both were common experiences for me over the course of my read ... Gilpeer’s writing is clear and easy to read (the lawyer in her), while Grodin’s—which is always italicized to differentiate between the two—is lyrical and poetic ... I was stunned by Grodin’s eloquence, along with her wisdom that far exceeds her 29 years ... Each good book provides an opportunity to see our own world, different as it may be from the narrator’s, reflected back at us. Here too, as much as this is Grodin’s and Gilpeer’s story to tell—and they tell it richly, with nuance and grace—I found that it was also my brother’s story and even my own ... This is not just a disability narrative but an important memoir that heals as much as it educates. I Have Been Buried Under Years of Dust transcends labels and transforms us.
... gripping ... The setup seems simplistic, and it might even feel predictable: a routine, real-life tale of a family coping with developmental disorder. But the beautiful unfolding of their story is nowhere near pat ... Poems, memories, letters, and fragments of impression start to flow from Emily's iPad. Her grammar is impeccable. Her writing is richly metaphorical. As it turns out, she's not just a writer; she's a stylist. Here the narrative takes on a powerful transformation. Emily ceases being a subject of the story and instead starts relaying her own version of it. After her inner life has been caged for so long, her agency at last unfurls and flourishes ... It's subtle. It's haunting. And its tears are more than earned ... Ultimately, their story is a tender look at how language allows us to unlock our souls. It's that universal. Heartbreaking and uplifting in equal measure, I Have Been Buried Under Years of Dust is a chronicle of not only finding one's voice, but of learning to make others understand that voice—a whisper to a scream in reverse.
... an important landmark of a book. For autistic people and their caretakers, loved ones and other advocates, it is a hopeful story of what happens when you don’t give up and provide love and assistance to all the weary pilgrims on such a difficult road. This beautifully written book will bring you to tears on many occasions. The stories are told by both Emily and Valerie, and getting both perspectives gives us a well-rounded look at the daily and lifetime issues that this family faced (as do millions of others around the world). Emily’s poetry is a gorgeous and perceptive addition to an already valuable volume.