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The Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous Preloaded Digital Audio Player – April 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Preloaded Digital Audio Player
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1605142441
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605142449
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Crowley, the mother of a teenager on the autism spectrum, shows an astute understanding of her characters' psychologies but tries to encompass too much in this first novel, narrated by a girl with Asperger's syndrome. Merilee Monroe, a 13-year-old who is obsessed with dragons and filled with astonishing words she cannot express out loud, finds a soul mate in Biswick, an eight-year-old damaged by fetal alcohol syndrome, the son of a visiting poet. Merilee's growing affection for Biswick is beautifully drawn, but subplots regarding other citizens of Jumbo, Texas, their eccentric behaviors and the emotional baggage they carry, grow burdensome. The novel's slow-moving plot and shifting focus present other potential obstacles. On the other hand, both the dialogue and Merilee's unique thought process come off as authentic, compensating for some of the novel's weaknesses. The town of Jumbo—home to famous ghost lights that appear in the middle of the night and the legendary conquistador tree, under which a treasure is reputedly buried—adds an aura of mystery that coincides with a theme about miracles. The biggest miracle of all is the one Crowley handles with the greatest skill: the change that occurs in Merilee as she ventures at last beyond her very ordered existence. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Marilee is different. She craves order, repeats words, and disdains hugs. She doesn't like the unexpected in her life. One day young Biswick and his poet father come to town. Small and like an alien, the inqusitive, needy Biswick brings a disruptive urgency that changes Marilee. Crowley makes an impressive debut with a story that captures the human condition as seen through the eyes of the good (and not so good) folks of Jumbo, Texas. Her strength lies in the way she kneads scenes and characters, giving them a fullness that moves beyond mere reality. Crowley has created a finely honed secondary cast, but her stars, Marilee and Biswick, are problematic in that neither feels like an authentic representation of a child with a syndrome (Biswick has fetal alcohol syndrome; Marilee, Asperger's); both are bright, articulate, and clever. Marilee says she wants to be alone, but she easily takes to Biswick, and Biswick, though called a retard, merely seems eccentric. This is, however, still a beautifully crafted story that will give children much to talk about. Cooper, Ilene --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Suzanne Crowley was born in a small west Texas town, not unlike Jumbo, the setting of her first novel, "The Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous." She was raised in Houston and graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in Journalism. She worked briefly at an interior design magazine before staying home to raise her three children and write freelance articles for magazines. Suzanne is a well-known miniaturist, her recreation of historical and designer rooms have been featured on the covers of American and international magazines. After living all across the United States with her husband's job, they moved back to Texas in 2005. Suzanne grew up with the family legend that she is distantly related to Lady Jane Grey, the tragic queen of nine days, leading to a life long love of the Tudor era, and eventually "The Stolen One."


Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
Everyone has thoroughly enjoyed it...great read for all ages!
SuuzE
Veraleen is a big woman with a very big heart, and Biswick is an 8-year-old boy who has been affected by fetal alcohol syndrome.
TeensReadToo
She has a unique style and Marilee has an unforgettable voice.
Andrea White

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By SuuzE on December 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have been handing this book out to friends, family and teachers because it leaves the reader with a hopeful feeling, especially with regards to one's own sense of dislocation...not fitting in.
One recipient, who is an elementary school Special Ed teacher, was totally impressed with the author's insightful descriptions of autistic behavior - "Even the nuances!"
Many of the characters remind me of myself or people that I know...Veraleen, with her "big ole heart" that loves big and hates big, for example.
I wish this book would be chosen for school literature programs. It has all of the elements of good literature that students need to learn, including some phenomenal symbolism.
Everyone has thoroughly enjoyed it...great read for all ages!
Two suggestions for readers:
1) Read slowly. The sentences are so well-formed that you'll miss important bits of information if you try to skim over them.
2) Older people should empty their bladders before reading. 'Burst out laughing' humor is subtly woven into the narrative.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By B. Felkins on August 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
First of all, this is not just a book for 10-12 year old children. Teens and adults may well relate even better to the thoughts and experiences of Merilee Marvelous. Parents with high functioning children who "just don't seem to fit in" will find this a stirring narrative of provoking insight and light hearted humor about the inner thoughts of a "special child" as she relates to her world.

Readers may even recognize some of their own family and neighbors in the collection of eccentric Jumbo residents. Merilee explains, "It's amazing what people will tell you while sucking on a purple Tootsie Pop. I hand them out so that everyone will shut up and leave me alone, but all it seems to do is open up a whole can of worms."

This is a story with a beginning and an end much like a hello and a goodbye... a story told in a lacework pattern, handing out just the right amount of bread crumbs to lead the reader to a bear-hug conclusion. I felt like I was listening to a story told by a wizened old spirit.... remembering a great life story....a poignant story about love, fear and redemption. When I closed the cover on the last page, I was satisfied.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Karen Duban on September 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I love this tender coming-of-age story about outsider Merilee Monroe, a/k/a Dragon Girl to her fellow citizens in the thriving West Texas metropolis of Jumbo (population 1000, including the goats). When new misfits arrive in town desperately needing her help, Merilee is dragged into the heart-warming and heart-breaking world of family and friendships. I laughed aloud at the many comic scenes and amusing anecdotes about small-town life. And who doesn't have a mean-as-mudpie crazy old biddy somewhere in the family tree? For all that, the magical storyline took me down a path of souls lost and found. As prematurely cynical Merilee redefines her place in the emotional landmine-field known as her community, she discovers the most mysterious of all places in the universe: the hopeful human heart. A delightful read and not just for youngsters.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Andrea White on January 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Suzanne Crowley is a beautiful writer. She has a unique style and Marilee has an unforgettable voice. From the beginning, the author grabs you with her humor, her insight into Asperberger and her understanding of all sorts of people, and you know that you are along for the whole West Texas ride. I can't wait to read Suzanne's second book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By BeatleBangs1964 TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a book that is really aimed at the general audience. Merilee Monroe, 13 has Asperger's Syndrome which is the spectrum partner to autism. She lives in the cultural desert town of Jumbo Texas with her parents and 10-year-old sister, Bitsy Ruth. The girls' mother, a New Yorker infuses the good townsfolk with literary interests by hosting poetry readings in a local shop.

Marilee cannot tie her shoes or ride a bicycle; she has coordination issues which are not uncommon among many people who have Asperger's Syndrome. Merilee has special interests that often don't include others. She loves dragons; she is literal to the point where she expects her Irish neighbors to "look like the little guy on the Lucky Charms [cereal] box." She is rigid about sequence and order; she cannot stand to be touched as she finds it painful. She laughs at the irony of having the nickname Hug as she dislikes hugs; the girls' father came up with that one after he nicknamed Bitsy Ruth Bug. Merilee credits him with wanting to be fair.

While Merilee is not without her peculiarities, she is a very believable character with Asperger's and ironically, she fits in with the townsfolk to a large extent. Many of the citizens of Jumbo, Texas are wildly eccentric and it is just their oddities that make them so endearing.

In fact, it is this strange mix of characters who do ironically fit into Merilee's Very Ordered Existence as their oddities move in counterpoint with her own. While many of their distinctive features are somewhat predictable, Merilee's are not and it is just this rhythmical sequencing that makes this an effective story.

Merilee is indeed a distinctive personality, even in this small town melting pot of odd characters.
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