Friday, March 29, 2019

A Discussion of the UpLit Genre and a Book Review of The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard

The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr: A Novel by [Maynard, Frances]

I came across this title in an article I read discussing the genre called "UpLit" (Uplifting Literature), which doesn't have a specific definition, but tends to refer to books that have characters who struggle with complex issues, but ultimately find hope or redemption at the end of the book. These are the kinds of stories that I'm drawn to lately, probably because there is so much that's not hopeful in our world right now. Here are a couple of links to articles from the UK that talk about why this genre is becoming a trend:

The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard has similarities to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, and The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves, in that the main character is neuro-atypical. In these stories, the reader experiences the main characters' issues as they navigate through an often confusing world, where figures of speech and jokes make no sense, and change is hard.

Elvira, or Evvie, is an adult woman who lives with her overbearing mother and misses her deceased father, who may have been a spy, or an engineer, and whom her mother disparages on a daily basis for things Evvie cannot understand. When her mother suffers a stroke or "Her Lost Capacity," Evvie has to figure out the world on her own for the first time with the help of a neighbor and others characters who gradually fill her life with something like joy. The title comes from 7 Rules that Elvira writes down to help her figure life out. 

There are some mysteries about her father that Evvie tries to unravel, and the reader will probably figure out some of them before the main character does. However, reading about this unique young woman as she attempts to understand her world was enlightening to me as a reader. The author states in her notes that she has experience working with people on the Autism spectrum, and this is apparent in her care and insight as she writes. The book is maybe a bit longer than needed, but I was satisfied as a reader when I turned the last page, and was left with the feeling of hope that I'm looking for in this type of book.

For other stories that I would classify as UpLit, check out those listed below:

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gai
l Honeyman

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikrey – Gabrielle Zevin
The Music Shop – Rachel Joyce
The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion
Small Admissions – Amy Poeppel
The Little Paris Bookshop – Nina George
The Recipe Box – Viola Shipman
Little Beach Street Bakery – Jenny Colgan
The Assistants – Camille Perri
America for Beginners - Leah Franqui
Small Blessings – Martha Woodroof
The Garden of Small Beginnings – Abbi Waxman
The Keeper of Lost Things – Ruth Hogan
Now That You Mention It – Kristan Higgins
The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living – Louise Miller
The Optimists Guide to Letting Go – Amy Reichert
The Story of Arthur Truluv – Elizabeth Berg
The Queen of Hearts – Kimmery Martin
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper – Phaedra Patrick
The Library of Lost and Found - Phaedra Patrick
Windfall – Diksha Basu
The Lido – Libby Page
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce
Something Like Happy – Eva Woods
The Art of Arranging Flowers – Lynne Branard
Love Walked In – Marissa de los Santos
I Almost Forgot About You – Terry McMillan
Flying at Night – Rebecca L. Brown
Meet Me at the Museum – Anne Youngson
Lost Lake – Sarah Addison Allen
The Book of Polly – Kathy Hepinstall
Unleashing Mr. Darcy - Teri Wilson
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt - Beth Hoffman
The Curiosities by Susan Gloss
Professor Chandra Follows His BlissRajeev Balasubramanyam 
The Overdue Life of Amy Byler – Kelly Harms (coming May 1st from Lake Union)
Rules for Visiting - Jessica Francis Kane (coming May 14th from Penguin Press)

Happy Hopeful Reading!

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