Book Jacket

 

rank 102
word count 23090
date submitted 25.09.2013
date updated 10.07.2014
genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction
classification: universal
incomplete

EVE

Debbie Roxburgh



Eve has autism and struggles to cope in a world of emotional conflict and family turmoil.

 

Life is difficult for Eve. Her mother is depressed and regularly ups and leaves whilst her father struggles to keep the family together. Unable to communicate her feelings of rejection, she builds a 'book wall' in her room which she takes refuge behind when things get too much for her.

Eve's father takes on the role of single parent when her mother fails to return home. He begins to find ways of coping with his daughter's challenging needs and a fragile bond of understanding is formed.

But when Eve spots her mother with another man feelings of rejection come flooding back and all her father's hard work begins to unravel.






 
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tags

, autism, family relationships, friendship, grief, hope, love, trust

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61 comments

 

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katie78 wrote 105 days ago

this is so good.

ok, first thing's first. i'd cut the third paragraph of your pitch. it was confusing and you don't need it. the first paragraphs do their job.

i read your first chapter and i'll be back for more. i wish i could cut and paste as there were so many great lines- the image of her hand on her mother's hand print and her understanding of love, the exact way you worded it is perfect and beautiful and heart-breaking.

you do an amazing job with voice here, getting into this little girl's head and expressing it in a way that feels both honest and interesting. i like the structure with the italics, the attention paid to 'thumb space' and 'hand space' the tracing 17 times, the tantrum that calms her. i feel like i'm getting a glimpse into her world, i'm learning a bit of her language.

i have nothing negative to add- which is not really helpful. i'll return for more.

katie o'rourke, finding charlie

Nichola Hunter wrote 295 days ago

Wow - this is fantastic - it reminds me of "the Curious incident of the dog in the Night time except it is so much better - more authentic, less "clever clever" and far more emotive. Sheez - where has this book been hiding?

leelah wrote 295 days ago

Thoroughly captivating. With just a few words I am drawn into Eve's world and mind, which is why I read any book: I want to lose myself in another and experience that life. and still feel safe. here is such a jewel of poetic true expression.
Eve's draws me in instantly.There is a quiet desperation being shown here - but just as much a strength of heart and will that is stunningly described.
This will go very fast to the desk. six starred and watchlisted
and THANK YOU for writing this book

Fontaine wrote 300 days ago

I have had the privilege of reading quite a few chapters of this book, before it was uploaded. It is beautifully written and the protagonist, Eve, a girl with autism, is extremely well described. We are drawn into Eve's strange world and feel for her in her confusion and anxiety. But Eve is also very courageous. Her parents struggle with their lives and Eve is the constant observer of their problems and difficulties.
Debbie writes with sensitivity and a clear fund of knowledge of this condition. She has managed to get inside the mind of this child in a way that I find extraordinary. Highly recommended. I'll back it the moment I have a shelf space.

Pippa Whitethorn wrote 17 days ago

Hi Debbie,

I read the first 5 chapters of this because the tag line caught my attention. I used to work closely with an autistic teen and I wondered how you'd manage to convey the very confusing world those with autism sometimes struggle with. You've done an amazing job. This is so well written and manages to convey so much with so few words. I made some notes - just my thoughts as I read - ignore what isn't helpful

First chapter is very well done
para ending 'she imagined that was how love felt' is very moving.
Eve's rules and methods of coping are well described. It is impossible not to feel sympathy for her - and also a little for her mother maybe, who, whatever her faults, is struggling to cope and needs someone to notice and offer the help she so desperately needs.
Ch2
The scratching pen and it's effect on Eve is good. Will the uniform be a problem? My friend's son refused to wear his because of the feel of it - fine in primary because of an understanding head - not so good in secondary. The label thing makes me cross - not because of any flaw in the writing - why ask her to choose then ignore what she says? Very sad end again. You have captured Eve so well.
Ch3
The wall of books is a good image - and ties in nicely with your cover - Eve sandwiched between books - safe.
buttons like eyes - makes me sad, because so many of Eve's problems could be fixed if people knew what was going on inside her head. I know this is how it is, but it's still sad.
I like her rebellion with the ribbons.
Ch 4
Bits about her mother attending meetings (or not) so Eve gets her assistant doesn't really fit Eve's voice - it seems to show too much understanding of the way the world works, too much maturity. I know that's how it is - those most in need sometimes have parents least capable of going out to fight for what their children need. Mother is letting her down, although whether that is because she needs help to fight her corner, or she just can't be bothered is less clear.
Poor Eve, not getting an invite. Chantelle is horrible. I wonder where she gets her attitude from - her perfect mother? I am surprised they are not trying a bit harder at the school - they must see how things are, how alone she is. Eve seems to understand the rules of friendship well when she decides not to talk to Billy.
Ch 5
Eve's imprint in the duvet - so sad.
You have captured her behaviour in the playground so well, although the sentence beginning 'Everyone has a personal space...' seems to be off - the content is good - it just doesn't strike me as Eve's voice - more like an explanation. Maybe you don't need it. That idea is conveyed well later on when she sits at the other end of the sofa to her father.(I skimmed ahead a bit)

I've run out of time now, but would love to read more. It's so well polished and you have captured Eve's voice so well. High stars and a place on my WL to shelve in a couple of months when I have a space

Pippa

Tula wrote 23 days ago

Hi Debbie

My little dog is sick, so I've spent the day sitting with her, and I've had time to read everything you've posted on Eve.

What a story it is - I was immediately drawn into her world and I like the way you've broken up the short, sharp paragraphs with her thoughts. I did wonder at first whether her actions around her mother's bed were a little old for a four-year-old, but then these children are able to absorb things we don't realise and I suppose their way of showing their feelings is quite alien to us. Eve's behaviour in chapter 1 is probably quite normal for her.

I grew up with a younger sister who had Down's Syndrome, so I had a lot of contact with her special needs friends at school, and her work colleagues, and I have to say that you have brilliantly portrayed a mixture of characteristics and abilities in Eve. I was shocked at her treatment in school (my sister was always in a special school with others of similar abilities) - children can be so cruel to those who are different. I was also shocked at Grandma's treatment of her.

You've made some brilliant observations - Eve putting her own hand over the mark of her mother's - how moving.

Chapter 4 brought tears to my eyes - no party invite - Eve heart hurt - putting a flannel to her puffy eyes - I was so sad for her.

I wasn't sure about the chapters about her mother and father (although her mother's brought back many memories), but I presume we need to know their background for things which happen later in the book. Otherwise they seemed a bit superfluous to me - and a bit shocking for no reason in her father's chapters.

Your style of writing is great for this type of story - a story which every "normal" person should read to learn what life is like for those who don't fully understand our "normal" world.

I still have a lump in my throat - very well done Debbie. I hope you go far with this.

Best wishes and high stars

Tula x

katie78 wrote 34 days ago

i finally came back for more! at the beginning of chapter four, you use the phrase "developed a fixation" which sounds much more clinical than the rest of the chapter. the parts not in italics, while not directly in eve's pov, seem filtered through her and i'm not sure this is how she'd describe it.

as for the lines in italics, i'm not sure what they add here. 'eve no like school' is an unnecessary observation and even if this is the way eve's thoughts are formed, it becomes repetitive for the reader.

i'm not sure how this chapter is moving the story forward.

mikegilli wrote 42 days ago

Eve is a captivating and entertaining story, not at all a worthy treatise, and the reader is left supporting Eve all the way against the cruel and ignorant world. The technique worked well for me, of using the contrast between a few awkward misunderstood words and her intelligent special thinking. I know this is finished but I was surprised at the 3 chapters about Robert near the end of the uploaded part, I would have interspersed them to link more with Eve's experiences, Robert seemed to me almost absent in the early part. Sorry I didn't find the Julia chapters.
Congrats on another excellent book, as with Speedy McCreedy you have successfully shown us into a child's mind!

blueheart wrote 50 days ago

Reading on as enjoyed the first chapter so much.

C2 has Eve's clothing being labelled wrongly by her mother - this could be an analogy with the labelling of Eve herself? Or how she is wrongly perceived by the outside world. Seems to be a communication breakdown between Eve and her mother - superbly illustrated by the fear of a label being sewn into Eve's neck.

'mouse-child' - great

You effectively highlight sensory detail that is significant to Eve - the scratchy silver pen, the bony hands of the 'witch' - and like the snippets of her thoughts in italics.

I had a problem with the flow in two places and had to re-read - at 'In the build up to her...' when did not realise you had left the school scene, and later where there is another time shift. Unless this is done on purpose for any reason, it is easily solved by slightly reducing the paragraph spacing (seems too big) and when you shift time frame/scene to leave a double par space (or symbol).

Jenni, Ghosts of Chechnya

Max China wrote 60 days ago

Chapter 2. One year on.

More views and disjointed glimpses ... so effective, conveying volumes in a few carefully chosen words. The vicious circle created by the note-taking to record Eve's behaviour and then her hypersensitve reaction to the noise the pen makes scratching on the paper, causing more note-taking is keenly observed and heightens awareness of the sort of problems autistic children can face. By the end of the chapter, the writer has cleverly revealed that whilst poor Eve's understanding of things is limited, she is all too aware of feeling unwanted. How sad, but not offputting, surely there must be some redemption for Eve...

I've already watchlisted and starred highly on an earlier read. I will back Eve at the end of June. I applaud your writing for its quality and potential in bringing new levels of awareness and understanding of autism to readers who, perhaps may have remained unaware.

Max

Max China wrote 61 days ago

Chapter 1. The space between paragraphs is stark, yet marks out Eve's isolation so effectively and how poignant is it to be inside the head of a child in this predicament ... beautifully written and realistically portrayed.

I will continue with chapter 2 in a short while.

Max

Debbie R wrote 75 days ago

Hi Hock
Thank you for your comments on EVE.
I work with children and young adults who have autism and have drawn on that experience to create Eve.
The book is written from 3 viewpoints - Julia is Eve's mother and Robert is her father. They have chapters headed with their names to clarify this and their stories interlink with Eve's.

hockgtjoa wrote 75 days ago

I don't know how the author knows this is what to be autistic but it doesn't matter. This is well written and harrowing. Will back in June.
p.s. I am mystified by the Julia chapters.

blueheart wrote 76 days ago

Absorbed by the intensity of this first chapter. I felt totally inside Eve's bewildering world and yet thanks to the skillful third person narration was also able to get an understanding of her from a 'normal' perspective. Love the thoughts in italics. Bold, surprising writing.

Quibbles - 'anxious veins' 'tiny hummingbird heart' - cut tiny? Also the use of 'she' detracts a bit from the very effective penultimate sentence of C1 'Eve's greatest fear...' is slightly jarring - isn't a duvet mound an 'it'?

On my watchlist & starred.

Jennie - Ghosts of Chechnya

Nelly Harper wrote 77 days ago

It is great to see autism described so well. The reader is able to fully empathise with Eve and understand how comforting her strange behaviours are.
Having brought up a daughter who is borderline autistic, with clear autistic communication but only diagnosed aged 20 I can really relate to Eve.
Congratulations on an excellent start, I will be back to read more very soon

PurpleProse wrote 89 days ago

Hi there. Have read the first three chapters and I think you create the world of Eve very impressively. I like the way that you have Eve's thoughts in italics and give the reader a sense of how difficult it is for her to understand the world she lives in. The writing flows very easily and smoothly and the reader is carried along by the strong sense of sympathy that you engender for the chlld, born to struggle. I did wonder if we couldn't have a stronger sense of the father in these early chapters - he is mentioned of course, and clearly the mother is the primary carer, but I did just think there might be a few more allusions to him? This may of course be inappropriate in that perhaps Eve doesn't have room in her head for more than one relationship, but given your pitch about the bond that is to grow between father and daughter I just thought perhaps the ground could be laid perhaps a little more strongly, The other query I have is about the 'hummingbird heart'. I know when Eve talks about mouse girl that she is thinking that about herself, but I am unsure about the hummingbird - I think this may be because you mention it three times, so clearly it means a lot, but otherwise I'm not aware that Eve is particularly physically fragile and so it stood out for me as perhaps the author's voice, which otherwise is not present. Anyway, just a thought. It's a good read and I am sure will go far. I look forward to more! Poppy, The Day Will Come

A.D. Michael wrote 92 days ago

I really love the first chapter -- I'm there with her, in the room. I get a real feel for the little girl and her anxieties regarding mother. It seems a sad tale at the moment but I guess there is a lot more in store.
Thanks
AD Micheal

ShrienA wrote 93 days ago

This is amazing. Just purely amazing. I love love it. Will be reading on!

Darius Stransky wrote 94 days ago

Chapter Four

"..lists appear like whispers."

I'll be brief - this is so heart rending.

You make me sit in mouse girl's body and look through her eyes and it frightens me as to just how this tale will end.

In summation - " Bloody marvelous"

Darius
The King's Jew

katie78 wrote 99 days ago

chapter three- i feel like there's a slight pov issue in this chapter. are we still in eve's pov? it doesn't seem like she'd have the perspective to relate the mother's 'mistakes' and why the assistant isn't there.

your first chapter was exquisite, but as we go on in eve's perspective, i'm longing for another voice to make a more complete picture.

katie78 wrote 101 days ago

in chapter two, when eve sits behind the row of books in her room, you say her hands are under her feet. then she has a hand on her chest. then her hand are still under her feet.

otherwise, just enjoying the read.

Aminul Ruhul Islam wrote 103 days ago


Eve:

Short pitch: Appropriate and arresting. Long pitch: Maintains the interest with more details.

Debbie Roxburgh, you have chosen an important subject for your book. You write with exceptional clarity; and it is compelling. The characters are developed meticulously.

It is a difficult book to write; but you have managed it so well that for the readers it is an easy read. You definitely deserve some praise for this project. Wish you all the best with this book. All 6 stars for your book.

Aminul Ruhul Islam
(Agent of Allah)

katie78 wrote 105 days ago

this is so good.

ok, first thing's first. i'd cut the third paragraph of your pitch. it was confusing and you don't need it. the first paragraphs do their job.

i read your first chapter and i'll be back for more. i wish i could cut and paste as there were so many great lines- the image of her hand on her mother's hand print and her understanding of love, the exact way you worded it is perfect and beautiful and heart-breaking.

you do an amazing job with voice here, getting into this little girl's head and expressing it in a way that feels both honest and interesting. i like the structure with the italics, the attention paid to 'thumb space' and 'hand space' the tracing 17 times, the tantrum that calms her. i feel like i'm getting a glimpse into her world, i'm learning a bit of her language.

i have nothing negative to add- which is not really helpful. i'll return for more.

katie o'rourke, finding charlie

Rachel H Campling wrote 109 days ago

Hello Debbie,
Absolutely captivating. This is a book that will not leave me. I know I will be thinking about it until I get the time to read some more. Thank you.
Rachel

Darius Stransky wrote 112 days ago

EVE
Debbie Roxburgh

Chapter Three

Sorry I've been so long away.

Your writing haunts the reader. Eve's emotions and view of the world are so well set out.

The reader doesn't have to suspend belief in anything you have written.

I almost 'feel' like that lost person as I followed her on the first day at school

The fact that her 'assistant' hasn't arrived must happen so often

She is a girl adrift in a sea of misunderstanding

One phrase sticks in my mind (amongst others but worthy of note)

"Goose-bump legs" where did you conjure that gem up from?

Incredible (and this is not false praise as if I was called upon to defend this book in any literary discussion I could do so with ease)

You have a full compliment of stars and I really look forward to when this is published!

Best wishes (and thanks for your continued support - just get this last marathon over and I'll reciprocate)

Darius
The King's Jew

Sue Harries wrote 129 days ago

This is brilliant! Added to WL, starred highly and will back as soon as space. Sue ''It's a Dog's Life''

Darius Stransky wrote 133 days ago

EVE BY Debbie Roxburgh

Chapters One and Two inclusive

I take my hat off to you Debbie for a wonderful piece of writing.
I could never write anything like this no matter how hard I tried.

You took me right into the mind of Eve and your 'asides / italics' summed up all Eve's disconnected thoughts and emotions with great aplomb.

The piece with the labels was heartbreaking.

Edited and presented extremely well but I have one question (now remember I know nothing about such dilemmas as Eve and her ilk find themselves in and it's you that is the expert)
But - if she's only four could she read the book titles? I know I could read at five but is four correct?

This is not a criticism it's a question
Please let me know and keep in touch and give my regards to Somerset (and the weeds)

Best wishes to you and yours (and Eve)
Darius
The King's Jew
PS Thanks for your comment on mine.
PPS - Have six stars from me

lauraemmons wrote 133 days ago

CWOG review of EVE by Debbie Roxburgh

I was drawn to this story because my son is severely autistic and mentally impaired, but I continued to read it because it is a captivating story of an abused child, struggling parents and their painful journey. If Eve were not autistic, it would still be a poignant tale.

Your story is well written and, for the most part, grammatically correct, which makes it so much easier to enjoy.

Autism is the cruelest disorder in the world and has become a terrifying epidemic. I am intimately familiar with it. My son is now 15, he still cannot talk, nor do any daily living tasks by himself, but he is sensitive and affectionate and I love him more than words can say. When he was first diagnosed, the psychologist told me he might remain at his two-year old functioning level indefinitely, so I started taking as many courses as I could in special education and early childhood development. I ran a daycare for children in the autism spectrum for three years so my experience is not based entirely on my son's case.

The hardest thing for parents to accept is that it's not their fault. It hurts me to see that you've portrayed both parents as unloving and neglectful. From the 1940s through the 1970s and beyond, psychologists wrongly inferred that the parents' were the source of their children's autism because they were cold and indifferent toward their children. The results of that horrific, ridiculous and prejudiced theory devastated families of autism sufferers for decades, killed any opportunities for research, financial aid to families or support of any kind. See the PBS documentary "Refrigerator Mothers" for more information on the impact of blaming autism on the parents (http://youtu.be/mgz3tvqBQ4o). From reading your pitch, I assumed that the father would be a caring parent, but when you portrayed him as a drunk in chapter 6, I was so disgusted I stopped reading. Perhaps if you portrayed the father as a caring but overwhelmed man who must work and has no choice but to leave his child in the care of the clinically depressed mother by inserting a few vignettes at the beginning of the story from his perspective, it would help immensely.

I can tell you there are a few glaring errors in your portrayal of four-year old Eve in chapters 1 through 3 which, if corrected, might make the story even more touching.

If Eve is four, there's little chance that she can read or tell time. If she had acquired these skills, someone must have painstakingly taught them to her. It would be more appropriate to use some other event as Eve’s indicator of when to call 999, such as if the mailman drops the mail through the slot, then call, because Daddy told her this is when to call. Later you can tell us that the mailman always comes at 2 pm from the father’s perspective. Even a savant four-year old mind is not sufficiently developed to understand the concept of time. Therefore there’s no way she’ll know when three hours and twenty three minutes have passed.

Likewise she might recognize the binders of the books in her wall by color or size, but she won't be able to read them. She might recite the titles because she’s heard her father go through them so many times. She might know and obsess over the animal book because it has been read to her repeatedly and she's memorized the story and associates it to the pictures in the book, but she can't actually read.

Lastly, it is a fundamental symptom of the disorder that autistic children don't imagine. She might associate the hibernating bear story with her sleeping mother because her father gave her the idea when he cautioned her about waking the depressed woman but she wouldn't have made that association on her own.

Personally, in chapter 1 I would have made Eve escalate from stimming to self-abuse as time passes and she gets hungrier. Autistics are not patient. They are incapable of delaying gratification, especially at that age. A real autistic kid would move from rocking and stimming to smacking her head or thighs within an hour of waking.

In chapter 2 does Eve talk out loud or just think these things? It would help to know and make her screaming tantrum more dramatic if it’s the first time they've heard her make sounds.

I wish you all the best with this novel. I’ve only provided my perspective to help you make it more authentic. I hope you are not offended. However, this disorder affects over six million people worldwide and has devastated the lives of tens of millions of family members and caregivers touched by autism. You should treat it with sensitivity toward the autism community.

Laura Emmons
Shards of History
Seeing Magic

Raymond Crane wrote 141 days ago

I read chapter 3&4 this morning and it seems quite 'hum-drum' although with the child's illness at the forefront, it is the kind of story that I would tell if I could write about children. Yes children with special needs, whether they are too intelligent or have some disability, need to have a voice. You do this very well with Eve.
It was a pleasure to read your manuscript, It is also an education. Thanx, R

Raymond Crane wrote 142 days ago

Hi, your writing is delightful even if the subject matter is rather arduous. Just a few queries, is it 'the local authority assessor', or 'the assessor of local authority' or perhaps 'the authority for local assessment.' - The expression, 'nerve ends screaming', is especially evocative. Also I'm not sure what figure of speech or thought is, 'hummingbird', and 'mouse-child,' perhaps a simile, but it is very effective. Not only that but the variant flow of the tense structures is very suggestive of a young child. Next - chapter 3, R

Raymond Crane wrote 143 days ago

Hi, I have just read chapter one and will return to read other chapters. I like the first person narrative told from the child's POV. I also like the stream of consciousness descriptions. You handle this subject adeptly and skilfully. The thought associations are remarkable and take me back to my own childhood which I later in life conceived of as being slightly autistic. I shall send you a message, and hope you do the best with this very talented, and well researched manuscript. R

Zoe Morgan wrote 146 days ago

Hi, Debbie :-)

The style of your narrative here is accomplished. The rhythm in which the paragraphs are set, broken up by the Eve's stream of consciousness are just as compulsive and structured as the burden Eve suffers with her illness.

This is a clever tale, told well. I've only read three chapters so far but fully intend to read on.
High stars indeed :-)
Zoe x

Wendy Proteau wrote 150 days ago

The voice of those who are misunderstood in life is what I see in your writing. Autism is a subject I wasn’t expecting, but was drawn into the book. You clearly have had experience or it comes from watching someone close to you. I have a friend who specializes in working with Autistic children and your book manages to convey that same patience with special needs children. Your writing displays the struggle, compassion and coping skills to help see the child and the condition. In my mind’s eye she is a child, yet lives a torturous life that we as adults will never clearly understand. This book will bring attention to everyone who reads it that life is precious and we forget that. For Eve life is a difficult journey and for those watching, it’s a heart tugging story. Children are cruel at times without even knowing and you managed to shine a light on things that tear a heart out. I’m not sure of the grammatical things, I am no expert, and at times I wondered if missed commas or a few grammatical errors were deliberate.
All in all a solid, well written book that should do very well. All my best!
Wendiann

Putsche wrote 159 days ago

Eve
By Debbie Roxburg
In one sitting I managed to read all sixteen chapters absolutely captivated with how you manage to portray Eves understanding and comprehension of her world as she suffers from autism.
You write beautifully and have a rare gift of being able to provoke a wide range of emotions and you have managed to quite literally break my heart and put the hugest lump in my throat.
Eve will stay with me for such a long time and I imagine many others after reading your book that features and brings this life-long disability that affects many people to light.
Six stars and WL – Absolutely gripping.
Catherine
The Surgeon´s Son

Shiloh Yazdani wrote 167 days ago

In your book you give a voice to those who sometimes don't have a voice. It's a wonderful thing to have the struggles of those facing autism brought out in an interesting form like your book. I hope many misconceptions of autism are helped through this story.
Shiloh
"Courage Through Faith"

Angelika Rust wrote 167 days ago

CWOG review

Hi Debbie,
I'm glad I've finally found the time to give this the attention it deserves.
You certainly have something special here. With short, simple sentences you manage to paint a very precise picture of the inner turmoil of a sick child - the spiral of fear and guilt, and the coping mechanisms developed to stay alive. I feel this is, if not entirely true, then at least based on a true story. If not, I can only bow my head to the amount of research that must have gone into developing such a deep understanding.
You have a bit of editing left to do - missing speech marks, the odd second blank space between two words, and here and there a superfluous word which looks like a leftover from a rewritten sentence, so it's nothing major and in no way distracting from the quality of your writing.
Any attempt to compare this to Speedy McReady only proves that you're a very versatile writer.
Thanks for sharing this with us, and for making me cry.
Angelika

Elizabeth Kathleen wrote 169 days ago

Sad, so sad. I, too, have worked with precious autistic children and your book has a realism to it that breaks any heart that has felt compassion for a child struggling with special needs. I believe the hardest part to handle is the lack of communication. It's so hard for them and your book details that. How I hope it will help people understand those that are struggling and will help them to be compassionate.
God bless you!!!
Elizabeth Kathleen
"If Children are Cheaper by the Dozen, Can I Get a Discount on Six?"
"The Sticks and Stones of Hannah Jones"

Cas Meadowfield wrote 169 days ago


Return read
Eve's voice is mesmerizing. I read to chapter 5. very well done, wonderful writing.
Five stars

Cas

Annabel Watkinson wrote 174 days ago

Debbie, This is such a worthwhile book, and I'm so glad to have read what I have (four chapters at this point). It's such an insight into the mind of a person who could never really advocate for themselves. It's sad, touching and heart-rending in parts. I don't know how you've managed to pull this off so convincingly, but you have, and credit to you.

I made some notes as I read through – if you don't agree, please ignore, they're just my thoughts:

Ch 1: “Her four-year-old-self” jarred for me a bit – this felt like authorial intrusion, like you put it in because you wanted to convey this information.

“it made mouse-child feel safe...” I would have preferred just “her” here... it's almost like you have two voices, and the term “mouse-child” seemed to fit better with the italicised thoughts.

Ch 2: “She has already realised it is only the clothes her mother is afraid of losing.” So sad!

Ch 4: There were a few more instances of mouse-child in the main part of the text that, again, didn't feel right. But that's a nitpick – this part was so heart-breaking:

“Mouse-child would have promised her that she wouldn't even come if only she could have an invite like all the others.”

Such good writing here, with a really strong (and difficult!) voice, and an intriguing main character.

Well done, great work. I've starred this very highly.

Annabel.

rikasworld wrote 178 days ago

I've read all the uploaded chapters and now I need a good cry!

Very cleverly written. Eve is heartbreaking, more because of her parents and grandma than her autism I think. It's not that they can't cope, more that they don't bother even to try. Well, maybe her father is not quite so bad. It does make me furious. There are some devastating lines here 'Eve heart hurt'.

I wasn't sure where the Julia and Robert interludes were going but I imagine they will link up to the main story at some stage.

I think you keep Eve's pov going very successfully, just occasionally it doesn't sound like her but more like an author voice eg. Ch. 1 'The dilemma Eve finds herself in'

I only saw one typo (wow, amazing!) Ch. 4 her old assistant 'Doesn't want to worth with 'here' instead of 'her'
The assistants seem pretty useless too!

I'm sure your inside knowledge has helped to make this a realistic story. Very sad though!

Josephine O Brien wrote 183 days ago

Hi Debbie,

Short pitch: Perfect, I'd certainly want to know more.

Long pitch: I wonder if we are told too much here ' In that while we are going through the father's efforts with Eve, we are aware they will all come undone. This, however could add another layer of emotion to the reading.


Chap 1: Wonderful opening full of tension and anxiety.

Would 'stone cold dead' be a thought that a 4 year-old would have?

So sad, her way of holding her mother's hand was to cover her slap imprint.

Would the enormous concept of a parent dying be part of a four year old's thinking? I'm just thinking of my own at four. Unless there had been a very close connection with death, they wouldn't have it in their heads. Maybe there was a gran who lived with them and died recently?

Or maybe she's afraid of her mom becoming the 'never moving again thing' of the never moving again of the dead bird.

Wonderful description of her calming herself with the repetitive actions.

I wonder would that last sentence have more impact if it read ' ...the child she has been dealt is no longer standing guard / waiting on / staring at her, or something like that because watching over has a lovely protective feeling and I don't think that was waht Eve's mom felt her attentions were.

Chap 2: I really like the way you blend in the voice of the narrator with Eve's own voice, it works really well.

Great point made about her scared reaction, scaring the other child!

Who taught her 'safety zone'? Sounds like someone trying to help her.

So sad that her choice of label was ignored, a very good way to convey a lot about her life with just one episode.

Maybe remove 'If physically possible' and go straight to 'Eve believes she is going....' because Eve doesn't even have that caveat in her head, she's sure her mother will try it and so, hides her neck.

This is a wonderful story, poignant and yet not emotional. It's already threatening to be a heart breaker.
I will return soon for more.

VAery high stars and all the best with it.

nautaV wrote 192 days ago

Dear Debbie,
This book can't leave anyone emotionless. We're all aware of the fact that life is no kind of an endless feast. To tell the truth, most of us prefer to not notice its shadows. Autists are in one of such shadows. You've managed to draw the reader's attention to this problem very powerfully. The fate of the poor kid comes straight to everyone's soul. The story is really dramatic, sometimes heart-breaking. :(
Technically, stylistically it's perfect. You've found a sure-fire way to show a very special world of the protagonist, her emotions and thoughts.She has a very clear, distinct, unmistakably true voice.
The second plot line is also great. The reader feels that Julia's and Eve's fates will intersect at some stage.
Well done, dear Debbie! My six stars and my heartfelt respect to you!
Trying to be helpful (if I ever can :) I'd draw your attention to:
Ch.5
'The sound of mother pulling the front door shut and the they key being turned in the lock...' ( '...door shut and the key...'?)
Ch.7
'He (I mean, the piece of sheet of the blue-eyed Johnny) grabs a takes a ten pound note from his wallet...' (Just: 'He grabs a ten pound note from his wallet...'?)

Valentine But
Escape

DDickson wrote 194 days ago

This is a heartbreaking story, I don't know very much about children with autism but no matter, any child suffering as poor little Eve does would tear at your heartstrings. The comment that she would promise not to go to the party if only she could have an invitation was so very very sad. Children are so cruel and in a different situation the little boy with the glasses and poor little Eve would possibly become close allies but not so for this little soul and how ironic that the innocent breaking of the four step rule does indeed have a dire consequence. I have already sent you a couple of thoughts and still adhere to those but apart from that I think that has so much promise and I will watch list it with a view to shelving when I have a space - Good luck with it.

Meike Buechler wrote 198 days ago

Debbie - you got me hooked right from the start. The account of Eve is written in such an honest, believable and heart-breaking way. I look forward to reading more soon...

SFay wrote 199 days ago

Chapter 1

Crisp writing. Sense of panic and danger immediately apparent. The child's view of the world and what is actually going on are both clear. The sympathy generated for the child draws me into the story and I am happy to continue reading.

DMRogers wrote 201 days ago

DMR review.

Debbie, you have chosen a very difficult subject and handled it well. The inner workings of the Autistic mind are a mystery to me. but I worked at an EDB school for a few years and recognise the inner conflict you portray very well.
Title: EVE works well as a title. Very easy to remember.
Cover:- It is simple but effective. I like the reversed E. As a suggestion for improvement, Make your name bigger so it can be read, even as a thumb nail. Also, I'd make more of the wall of books. I like what you have done, but it doesn't represent a wall of books. Add a few more, make it that wall that Eve needs.
Pitches:- Not sure if it is necessary but you don't indicate how old Eve is in the pitches. Only a minor point.

You have written this very well and captured the mind of a four year old quite well. I have only two questions which are minor. Would Eve think of her parents as Mother and Father, or as Mum and Dad or Mummy and Daddy? Also, can Eve tell the time?

These are the only points I could question on this.
It has been written well and creates tension that I wouldn't have thought possible when conveying a child waking and getting up. I certainly felt for Eve and can see how this will be a gripping read as well as an educational one for anyone with autistic children.
Good job Debbie.

Rebecca Tester wrote 203 days ago

Chapter 2

Love the witch lady details, the repetition of 17, and the book wall. Her love of books is extra cool. An autistic POV backed up with this much experience is a neat thing to watch unfurl.

I’ve never had to get labels, so it’s neat to read about. The tartan scarf was a neat detail that made no sense and yet, made sense because we’re talking about autism, after all ;)

Rebecca Tester wrote 203 days ago

chapter 1

Okeedokee, let’s plunge right in here;

I like Eve’s voice-not merely credibly childlike but also adorable and vulnerable. Since writing child POVs can be such a difficulty, I thought I’d start there and let you know if I come across any inconsistencies later. So far, the writing is excellent in all respects but particularly regarding the consistency and accuracy of such a difficult (but mastered) difference.

I’m in the U.S. so we have 911, but am I to guess you have a 999, or is her version inaccurate? Regardless, you handled it well. Autism and OCD both get the love of repeated phrases and obsessive counting. Another reason I loved it (the repeated ‘nine, nine, nine) was your use of commas. Because 999 is one noun, I might have been tempted to use hyphens and, thereby, make it one word (nine-nine-nine),but this would come across as hasty instead of that particular, slower, deliberate ‘nine, nine, nine’. Seems like a small difference, but the reading includes those little pauses and once more brings to the fore that Eve is a child, and one with some difficulties.

I’ve noticed a few times, however, when you neglect to use commas and wasn’t sure if you were doing this with an equally masterful purpose (indicating a stream-of-consciousness-like lack of pauses between clauses). There are several missing commas in your compound sentences.

For instance, “It will be dark when Father gets home (needed comma) and he’ll be tired and hungry.”

Also missing comma between subordinate clauses and subject, as in “Clutching it in her small hands, she returns to her mother’s room…” You usually have the comma in place, so I figured this one might just be a typo.

I love the ‘pieces of mother’ and every reference to them—from bruises to father’s mouth turning up at the corners (such a different connotation from ‘smiling’ and that puts all the stress on the factual physical manifestation as opposed to the emotion—something I definitely picked up on and also enjoyed reading immensely.

“She is careful not to touch the body beneath the duvet (semicolon unnecessary because there’s no need for a conjunction—the other half of the sentence isn’t equal), the body that does not like to be poked or prodded—especially…” The especially phrase and ‘in and out’ in the next sentence could also work as parenthetical phrases, which bestows a much quieter, secondary, internal, whispered feel for the words.

This is going to seem silly, but as I was finishing up the end of your first chapter, I realized I was rocking in my seat.

Very cool job of detailing Eve and mother’s morning. You stretched a whole chapter, and rather than thinking ‘Nothing’s happening here. Ermagersh, this is boring’, I find myself pondering how, in the absence of all the Michael bay explosions, the thrill-seeking and sex and crime and gore, we have a very real dilemma with earnest warmth and everyday reality that is charming, compelling and truthful without coming off as needlessly melancholy or dramatic or miserable chic.

whoster wrote 211 days ago

Hi Debbie. Just had time to take a look at your first chapter. Excellent stuff - you've really got into the mind of a young person with autism and OCD. I'll see if I can read some more over the hols, but a great start, and you've already made it obvious that you know your subject matter. Have a great xmas!

Colleen MacDougall wrote 232 days ago

Eve - Debbie Roxburgh

This is a heartbreaking read.
Poignant, brutal, vivid, touching and insightful.
Stories like this need to be told and read.
Five stars.
Colleen
The Patron Saint of Dogs

carol jefferies wrote 250 days ago

Hi Debbie,

Eve

This story appealed to me as I enjoy human interest stories and I am particularly interested in autism as I have a nephew who has been diagnosed with it.

Eve's obsessive behaviour is quickly apparent at the opening of the story, as too are her fears regarding her sleeping mother. I felt very sorry for Eve.

I liked the idea of interspersing the narrative with what Eve is thinking. Her negative feelings reflect in bodily disturbances like her stomach hurting when she is anxious.

Not only has Eve got her autism to put up with but also her mother's excessive force in punishing Eve. Eve seems incapable of defining what bad behaviour is. I appreciated some of your turn of phrases you use for Eve, like 'When mother hits, it hurts and sometimes Eve carries a little piece of mother around on her skin afterwards.'

The pace is gentle as Eve waits for her mother to wake. As her mother continues to sleep tension builds and she becomes anxious that she has died. Burdened by the responsibility in case she needs to summon medical help for her mother, the concept of having to speak to a stranger on the telephone overrides the anxiety that her mother may be dead. Her father has told her to be fearful of strangers which adds to her hostility towards the outside world. However there is some intuition in Eve, as she suspects that her mother's death might make her father happy.

Eve creates her own mantra and repetitive rituals to help soothe her anxiety.

Eve takes a dislike for Mrs Parker, the local authority assessor responsible for observing her in her nursery environment. This is partly because she 'observes' Eve and Eve associates being the focus of adult attention with being naughty. Unfortunately Mrs Parker's body language and physical appearance does not help warm her to Eve either. This remark is helpful for those approaching someone with autism.

It is in books that Eve finds comfort and makes a wall from her books at home to go as a place of safety. I was shocked by the negative way her mother communicates to her child. No wonder she reverts to being a mouse when anxious.

I could identify with Eve's difficulty in choosing. The labelling of her school uniform is carefully accomplished by her mother and sends signals to Eve that she is more concerned that they do not get lost than her daughter.

The green buttons on Eve's new school uniform she associates with badness because people usually stare at her before expressing their negativity towards her. It is imaginative the way she copes with this by wearing her cardigan inside out so she cannot be watched by the buttons.

The absence of the Assistant that Mrs Parker promised for when Eve started school makes Eves first week at school far more unbearable for her which is evident by her severe nail-biting.

This is an excellent insight of how the mind of a very young child with autism works.

High stars.

Carol Jefferies
(Diary of a Bad Queen) Chic/lit. story about marriage of King Charles I and his wife Henrietta Maria. I think it is possible that the King may have suffered from some degree of autism.
(The Witch of Fleet Street)

bdblanton wrote 252 days ago

Debbie, I totally appreciated the way you weaved the PsOV between 3d and 1st. Usually not a good idea but you did it very well and it works. I wonder who is narrating. Eve successfully describes for us in incomplete sentences how she feels about her world. Not an easy task considering most of your readers will not have seen the world from her perspective. I wonder whether there is some room to elaborate on mother, her perspectives and why she acts toward Eve the way she does. I know parents of autistic children and each one would describe unique challenges to raising any child on the lower end of the spectrum. Your portrayal of mother as an ogre is very successful. I will continue to read to see how Eve's perspective and language develops and she learns to adapt to her world and realizes that she is different but special.

Nice work.

BD Blanton
Second Son

Izmir49 wrote 257 days ago

Hi Debbie, i started reading Eve tonight. I am a paediatric speech therapist so i am interested in your book and recognise many elements of it. I am really tired so will comment properly tomorrow. I like the way you use her words and the way you show the key features of ASD in quite a minimalist style. With my speech and language hat on i wondered at times about her age in the book and whether her age and some of the concepts she expresses were in line as there are one or two complex concepts that she expresses. I am probably being pedantic and it is just a minor thought. It is a fascinating subject for a book and really highlights the sad plight of children like eve when they live in difficult family situations. It is very moving and you feel for eve so much. I will read more tomorrow. Thank you, i am really enjoying it.

Arzumanian wrote 259 days ago

Read the first chapter--very well done. You've got me inside Eve's head and you've got me feeling very fond of and worried for her. I'm looking forward to reading the rest. You're on my bookshelf.

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