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Tilt Hardcover – March 1, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The things that happen to Bridget Fox in this debut novel could make Job weep, but Bridget is funny on every page, and equally poignant. The overwhelming fact of Bridget's life is that her five-year-old daughter, Maeve, is autistic. Bridget describes what it's like to love a child when "she can't let you know she loves you back." Maeve wears a weighted vest to calm her and alternately giggles and moans to herself. She throws herself against a window and cracks it. This child would be too much for anyone, but Bridget has also suffered grievous losses: she divorced her philandering first husband and weathered the death of her beloved cousin. She and her current husband, Pierce, recently left their longtime home in Manhattan for Minneapolis, where Pierce, an internationally known sculptor, has a teaching job. Bridget has virtually no support system. Her father dies of cancer, her mother is chilly (she tells the desperate Bridget that she needs to find a good rinse for her graying hair). Pierce is soon diagnosed as manic-depressive. It's no wonder that Bridget tilts toward mental breakdown, but it is a wonder that she can be so engaging while coming unhinged-and that Burns manages to stave off melodrama with her dry wit and down-to-earth narration. Burns is a poet whose prose is lyrical, energetic and original. "We have crossed over into some world that I used to imagine was inhabited only by saints and martyrs, by mothers who grow patience like lizards grow tails." This hip and witty novel doesn't mince words about sex, mental illness or the exhaustion of child-rearing.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Burns' first novel tracks Bridget Fox's transformation from carefree, sophisticated New Yorker to depressed Minneapolis wife and mother. Hired as an English tutor by a Portuguese family, Bridget meets talented sculptor Pierce Keller. After a whirlwind courtship, they marry, have two children, and move to Minnesota, where Pierce has landed a job as a college art instructor. In rapid succession, Bridget loses both her best friend and her father to cancer and learns that her oldest child is autistic and her husband is manic-depressive. Bridget then attempts to commit suicide and is hospitalized with severe depression. Two elements keep this novel from dissolving into a complete pity party-- Burns' witty narrator, who proves to be a delightfully amusing guide through this seemingly endless tour of travail, and her memorable portrait of the autistic Maeve, whose behavior is maddening, mysterious, and fascinating. In fact, the too-few scenes between mother and daughter are riveting because they are rendered with such bracing candor. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (March 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402200412
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402200410
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,964,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Burns' beautiful yet very natural prose brings you on a wild (not in the fun sense) jorney into the life of a woman dealing with a seriously autistic daughter and manic depressive husband. After reading this I will seriously reconsider using the word dysfunctional to describe the average overbearing mother or distant father.
The author beautifully and convincingly tells the story of a dislocated woman -- from a rich and otherwise normal life in NY and Boston to the lonliness of being in the midwest with an uncommunicable child and an unreliable husband, both suffering from mental illness or disability. I won't ruin the story by telling of other tragedies that occur. It is primarily a story of total aloneness without the benefit of reclusion. The main character's life is a whirlwind of despair. At every chapter you can't believe that it will get worse.
When all hope is gone, the story is at is richest in descriptiveness. The reader feels like he is in the room with her, locked in the basement trying to escape her own personal hell which takes place in front of the backdrop of the sunny disposition of midwesters.
I recommend this book to anyone who has dealt with a mentally ill or disabled family member or friend, but also to anyone who just enjoys a "good" story being told through beautiful use of language.
It is hard to describe to people how such an emotionally deep story could also be a "page-turner." Read it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This beautifully written narrative is an absolute must read for anyone who wants to better understand both family life with a child with a disability, and the devastation of mental illness. As the mother of a special needs child, I can attest to the fact that Elizabeth Burns completely captures the roller coaster ride of despair, denial and hope we go through with our "less than typical" children. It often seems there is not enough of the right kind of help for our children and our families, and it is easy to feel the despair that leads the heroine to the depths of depression. The author shows great courage in disclosing what I suspect is some personal experience with the issues in the book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
From reading the other reviews I worried that this book would be one long overwrought melodrama, but luckily the author's voice is honest, wry and familiar. It's like hearing an old friend tell you the unbelievable events that have happened in her life since you last met.
As a special needs mom myself, I can only say, my life looks pretty good compared to Bridget's, and I do find that comforting. Parts of this book moved me to tears, as the author really captures the sometimes terrifying loneliness and numbing exhaustion of coping, day in and day out, with a very different child.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L. Quido VINE VOICE on July 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Elizabeth Burns, first time author of "Tilt: Every Family Spins On Its Own Axis" is described as a poet in her biographical short for the novel. Once you've read "Tilt", you'll understand, for the quality of her prose is so lovely and her words so well-chosen and evocative, they could only come from the soul of a poet.

Once I became a parent, I began to advocate to other young parents that they stay within the reach of their nuclear families, because I'd not realized, at first, how much it "takes a village". Part of the saga of Bridget Fox, the young mother at the heart of "Tilt", is her removal, by marriage and relocation, from family and things known and comforting. She's alone with her family in Minneapolis when things begin to unravel. Her journey through the devastation of her husband's manic depression and the slow-motion truth of daughter Maeve's autism will leave you emotionally bereft, in the same pattern that it leaves Bridget. Insights into her childhood, her friendships, her first marriage - all of them give credence to your belief in Bridget as a survivor, a woman too strong to give up.
...."Why would someone be grateful that a child with disabilities died early? Listen. We're wrestling with a deity who's pulled aside the curtain and peered right into our souls. There are no secrets left. We're just here, breathing or gasping...."
Written in the first person, you get the feeling that Burns' own world has spun in similar directions from time to time. You can feel her fear through your own skin. Elizabeth Burns has a skill that far exceeds the boundaries of fiction alone, and you get the feeling that she will be around to share her gift with us for a long, long time.
Given 5 stars, because 6 were not available. Without a doubt, the best book I've read this year!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
I think Ms. Burns wrote a great first novel. She is a very petic writer, has a great technique, and the novel was very carrying. However, as a parent of an autistic child, I honestly was looking forward to something that would be somewhat of a simpatico with me and this was not. I felt that the perspective of the autistic child was a cliche that is what others perceive an autistic child is. I don't feel like the author truly researched the field. More was written about the other psychiatric illnesses than what a true autistic relationship would have been. The stereotypees were just too general and contrived. I couldn't get past my upset after a certain point that this just wasn't real life.
Maybe I am being too harsh but again, as a parent living and breathing with an autistic daughter, I didn't feel like it was real. I finished the book but in anger. Besides, in present day culture, a state will not let a person commit their child long term unless a parent signs over parental control, thereby giving up all capabilities to be a part of a child's treatment team. It is basically unheard of so I felt like the story jumped the shark, so to speak.
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