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Letters to My Weird Sisters: On Autism and Feminism

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It seemed to me that many of the moments when my autism had caused problems, or at least marked me out as different, were those moments when I had come up against some unspoken law about how a girl or a woman should be, and failed to meet it. An autism diagnosis in midlife enabled Joanne Limburg to finally make sense of why her emotional expression, social discomfort and pr It seemed to me that many of the moments when my autism had caused problems, or at least marked me out as different, were those moments when I had come up against some unspoken law about how a girl or a woman should be, and failed to meet it. An autism diagnosis in midlife enabled Joanne Limburg to finally make sense of why her emotional expression, social discomfort and presentation had always marked her as an outsider. Eager to discover other women who had been misunderstood in their time, she writes a series of wide-ranging letters to four 'weird sisters' from history, addressing topics including autistic parenting, social isolation, feminism, the movement for disability rights and the appalling punishments that have been meted out over centuries to those deemed to fall short of the norm. This heartfelt, deeply compassionate and wholly original work humanises women who have so often been dismissed for their differences, and will be celebrated by 'weird sisters' everywhere.


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It seemed to me that many of the moments when my autism had caused problems, or at least marked me out as different, were those moments when I had come up against some unspoken law about how a girl or a woman should be, and failed to meet it. An autism diagnosis in midlife enabled Joanne Limburg to finally make sense of why her emotional expression, social discomfort and pr It seemed to me that many of the moments when my autism had caused problems, or at least marked me out as different, were those moments when I had come up against some unspoken law about how a girl or a woman should be, and failed to meet it. An autism diagnosis in midlife enabled Joanne Limburg to finally make sense of why her emotional expression, social discomfort and presentation had always marked her as an outsider. Eager to discover other women who had been misunderstood in their time, she writes a series of wide-ranging letters to four 'weird sisters' from history, addressing topics including autistic parenting, social isolation, feminism, the movement for disability rights and the appalling punishments that have been meted out over centuries to those deemed to fall short of the norm. This heartfelt, deeply compassionate and wholly original work humanises women who have so often been dismissed for their differences, and will be celebrated by 'weird sisters' everywhere.

30 review for Letters to My Weird Sisters: On Autism and Feminism

  1. 5 out of 5

    Phoebe

    Letters to My Weird Sisters is a book where the author writes to four women in history who she identifies as her weird sisters. They are women that were outcasted from society and judged for their ‘not normal’ behaviour. The author is autistic and writes about her own stories and experiences, where she has been judged for her ‘weird’ behaviour. The author relates to the four women and finds common ground with them, she empathises and apologises for the wrongs that these women experienced. I like Letters to My Weird Sisters is a book where the author writes to four women in history who she identifies as her weird sisters. They are women that were outcasted from society and judged for their ‘not normal’ behaviour. The author is autistic and writes about her own stories and experiences, where she has been judged for her ‘weird’ behaviour. The author relates to the four women and finds common ground with them, she empathises and apologises for the wrongs that these women experienced. I liked how I was able to learn more about women I know of, such as Virginia Woolf and women who I haven’t and how society treated them. I have not read much on autism and I felt like this was a good starting point for me as it was easy to digest but was still powerful and sometimes harrowing. The authors experience of her feelings of fear, and guilt that she went through during pregnancy and after birth was really vulnerable. I really enjoyed the way that autism and being judged for ‘weird’ behaviour was linked to feminism. How as women we are held to certain expectations of how we act and behave and are constantly reminded and policed on that. If you do not behave that way, then you are judged and singled out. It also addressed how commonly mothers are blamed for autism in children, which was informative for me to read. Overall, an interesting book that covered topics that I have not read about before. I would definitely recommend. Thank you Netgalley and Atlantic Books for allowing me to read and review this.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Abi Riley

    I absolutely adored this book! As a currently undiagnosed young woman embarking on the autism diagnostic process, this book has put some of my daily difficulties into sentences I could never form. My issues with never feeling like I fit in or not conforming to gender norms are being spoken about and shared between seemingly many of us. I love her approach to the book, the writing to our weird sisters, not about them. I also appreciate the amount of introspection and confidence required to write a I absolutely adored this book! As a currently undiagnosed young woman embarking on the autism diagnostic process, this book has put some of my daily difficulties into sentences I could never form. My issues with never feeling like I fit in or not conforming to gender norms are being spoken about and shared between seemingly many of us. I love her approach to the book, the writing to our weird sisters, not about them. I also appreciate the amount of introspection and confidence required to write about such taboo subjects. I look forward to reading more of her work!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Branch

    The structure and flow of this book was exceptional and I found it utterly fascinating. In her letters, the author reveals insights into her own experiences that at times made for difficult reading (often very relatable), but with an ultimately empowering message. This book is a must read for all women who have or suspect they have autism, parents of girls with autism, partners, friends or relatives of girls and women with autism. Perhaps everyone actually! Just read it!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bob Hughes

    In this book, Joanne Limburg writes to four women in history who she calls her 'weird sisters'- women who, for a variety of reasons, were outcasted and judged- and often penalised- for their 'weird' behaviour. Whether they were women who went against the grain, or women whose identities and behaviours clashed with wider society (Jews and people with mental illness during the time of the Nazis, women behaving 'erratically' during a time of witch purges), Limburg's letters to these women feel like In this book, Joanne Limburg writes to four women in history who she calls her 'weird sisters'- women who, for a variety of reasons, were outcasted and judged- and often penalised- for their 'weird' behaviour. Whether they were women who went against the grain, or women whose identities and behaviours clashed with wider society (Jews and people with mental illness during the time of the Nazis, women behaving 'erratically' during a time of witch purges), Limburg's letters to these women feel like both an apology for how they were treated, and an attempt to find commonality with them. As part of this, Limburg weaves in her own stories and experiences, and, in doing so, makes an often beautiful and heartbreaking plea for understanding and action. The book has a lot of moments that are not easy to stomach, but are well worth reading. For example, her descriptions of the fear, anxiety and terror she felt during and after pregnancy were harrowing, especially as she detailed how she was worried she would cause her children harm. The way Limburg then turns these moments into a chance for connection with the woman her letter is addressed to, and into something poignant about the changes needed in society to support people going through similar issues around childbirth, is genuinely powerful on several occasions. It is an interesting book, shedding light in ways that I don't think many books have before. I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    SalScamander

    I wasn't expecting the book to be in that format, thought it would be like a sort of memoir type that reads like a story. It was more text bookish type reading, with lots of factual information. But that's my fault for having such expectations and making presumptions. Anyway I found it hard to read, but that's not to say it wasn't good, because it certainly wasn't bad. I found some things interesting, like the author's own experiences at school, with the speech therapist, and seeing an education I wasn't expecting the book to be in that format, thought it would be like a sort of memoir type that reads like a story. It was more text bookish type reading, with lots of factual information. But that's my fault for having such expectations and making presumptions. Anyway I found it hard to read, but that's not to say it wasn't good, because it certainly wasn't bad. I found some things interesting, like the author's own experiences at school, with the speech therapist, and seeing an educational psychologist. Plus the bit near the end where she talks about watching ribbons running through her hands. Only because I myself could relate to some of those things. I enjoyed the bits with the author's experiences, which is what I expected when picking this book up. I think for me the bits I found hard were the bits when she info dumps about famous quirky women. But the story about Catherine Kepler was probably the most interesting of them all, out of all the letters to famous women that she writes to. The book wouldn't have been something I'd pick up if I'd have known that it would have a text bookish feel to it, but I'm glad I did kind of pick it up.

  6. 4 out of 5

    BettyB

    This is a terrible book. It certainly doesn't describe feminism as I recognize it. I also didn't recognize Virginia Woolf by the description of her given by the author. Oh dear. I may ask for my money back. Quite the disappointment. This is a terrible book. It certainly doesn't describe feminism as I recognize it. I also didn't recognize Virginia Woolf by the description of her given by the author. Oh dear. I may ask for my money back. Quite the disappointment.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Emily Paige Ballou

    "Letters to my Weird Sisters" is written to five different women from history whose lives it's possible to read through the lens of autism. Every so often, though, I'd forget that the author wasn't writing directly to me. "Letters to my Weird Sisters" is written to five different women from history whose lives it's possible to read through the lens of autism. Every so often, though, I'd forget that the author wasn't writing directly to me.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Walker

  9. 4 out of 5

    Megan Cauble

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Poyntz

  11. 5 out of 5

    amanda

  12. 5 out of 5

    nicola alloway

  13. 5 out of 5

    Irene McGillivray

  14. 4 out of 5

    Echo Louanna

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sara

  16. 4 out of 5

    Claudine Munro-Lafon

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kerri

  18. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kels

  20. 4 out of 5

    Katie Rose

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dóra

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  23. 5 out of 5

    Babs

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sage

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alison

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kira

  27. 5 out of 5

    Zara

  28. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte Lewis

  29. 5 out of 5

    Hayley

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alice

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