The Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous
- VOYA: 5Q3p M
- Lexile Level: 800L
- Reading level: Ages 9-12
- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (April 28, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0061231991
- ISBN-13: 978-006123199
Merilee is not your average thirteen-year-old girl; in addition to a fascination with dragons and a need for strict schedules, precise environments, and chaos-free days, Merilee is happiest when she is free from physical contact. In Jumbo, Texas, she is an oddity, but the locals accept her eccentricities if for no other reason than she is familiar. When Merilee’s precarious balance is rocked by the arrival of a tiny young boy named Biswick on her path, nothing will every be quite so orderly again. The inquisitive Biswick quickly works his way into Merilee’s life and as she unravels his emotional, psychological, and physical problems due to fetal alcohol syndrome, Merilee comes to better understand many of her own issues involving her struggle with Aspergers. As Merilee learns more about Biswick, his poet father, and the deplorable state they live in, her involvement in his life grows. The resulting friendship finally takes Merilee completely out of her Very Orderly Existence or VOE, and into a tentative happiness.
Crowley, herself the mother of an autistic child, presents a well-rounded and honest story full of shining moments sure to bring a smile to the face of the reader. Merilee and Biswick are both well developed and remain dynamic characters who never wallow in pity regarding their illnesses. Along the way, each displays strength, bravery, and heart. As the two overcome their differences from each other and the larger population, they grow as individuals and the reader is treated to a cast of eccentric and colorful characters.
This is an excellent read for young people who are exposed to autism and other conditions in their personal lives. It is also a great read in general for anyone (hello! everyone!!) who faces people who are different. Readers of all ages will relate to the cast of characters and will find themselves rooting for Merilee and Biswick.
I encourage parents to read this novel with their children so they may help them answer any questions or concerns.