Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Review - "Temple Grandin"

Interesting tidbit: when I ordered Sy Montgomery’s Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World, and the order came in, my assistant director asked me if this is what I had really wanted. She thought the title looked too old for my audience (I’m the children’s librarian, so I cover 0-12). I told her that yes, this book was on the high end of my clientele, but it most certainly was the book I had intended to get. I believe Temple to be an exemplary role model, and someone I wanted my kids to get to know, and I trusted Montgomery to be the one to introduce her.
Of course, in reading Temple Grandin, it is Temple herself that the readers first meet. Ms. Grandin has written a wonderful forward to this volume about her life, in which she gives practical advice for all children, not just those on the Spectrum, but those who consider themselves nerds or outcasts, or anyone who has ever felt a drive towards doing something special. To wit: everyone. This was the beginning of my falling in love with this book, and with Temple herself. As Montgomery relates Temple’s early life and struggles, I struggled along with her. Montgomery is so deft and delicate with describing Temple’s symptoms, I could almost understand what it must have felt like inside adolescent Temple’s head. However, it isn’t until later, when an adult Temple begins her crusade for the humane treatment of all animals, and Montgomery gives direct quotes from Temple about how she relates to what the animals, especially the cows, are thinking, that it really clicked. I could feel the terror and uncertainty, but also the relieved peace that Temple’s inventions bring about.
I had a very visceral reaction to reading this biography, and I’ve heard similar responses from patrons as well. My library does not carry any of Temple’s own books (something I’d like to rectify if I can), so Ms. Montgomery’s biography is the only link we have to this amazing person and her extraordinary story. I know the book may be tough reading for some of the kids in my room, but that won’t stop me from pushing it into any eager hands I can find, or from dragging teenagers downstairs, away from their own collection, and getting them to read it as well (my hook: Claire Danes played Temple in an HBO movie. Read the book, watch the movie!). I’ve always been an animal lover, but I still feel like getting to know Temple Grandin has changed the way I look at the world. My hats off to Temple and especially to Sy Montgomery: an excellent book about a thoroughly excellent woman.

Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World, by Sy Montgomery, forward by Temple Grandin
2012, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Library copy

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