To Each Her Own Review

However, there’s a point about 40-50% into the book where Erin reluctantly asked Jay to take her grocery shopping (since she can’t drive because of her ankle, and her car was totaled anyway) and someone tries to rob her. Jay intervenes (unsuccessfully), but that was when my opinion of him began to change. I still hated him for the “darlin'” and some of his behavior, but the book began working its way along more smoothly for me after that point, and I found myself reading more in one sitting than I’d planned.

I do think the novel suffers from its length, a little–while I really liked the ups-and-downs that enable both of them (but especially Erin, in my opinion) to really reflect and grow as a person, ultimately coming to accept herself for who she is–it did become a little clunky at times. Some of the scenes seemed to go on a little longer than they should, and partially because the book involves IM conversations in addition to in-person conversations with various characters (plus the narrative from two points of view), there were times I felt that I was getting the same information two, sometimes three or four times, without really adding anything to the equation. For example, we probably get an explanation of what devness is, and what it means to Erin numerous times in the book, as she tells Jay, her online friend Panhead, the reader, and her brother. Though there are subtle differences, and I don’t disagree that some of these scenes were important, it made me wish that either some information had been withheld earlier, or the scenes could have been written slightly differently to keep it from feeling boring or repetitive. This isn’t a huge deal and it doesn’t harm the overall quality of the story, but they did make it drag in places and I think if some of these could have been streamlined, it would have improved the pace of the novel considerably.

“I think you have this . . . I don’t know . . . this tremendous capacity to see the beauty in everything–even in things that sometimes inspire pity or repulse others. That’s a gift, not a perversion.”

One thing that I do applaud but that some readers may not like is the novel’s realistic, unapologetic portrayal of disability. Jay is a T-9 paraplegic, and as he points out at one point, “This isn’t some dev fairytale where the wheeler overcomes adversity, then gets healed, and everyone lives happily ever after. . . . Welcome to the land of SCI, Erin!” The book talks frankly (although it doesn’t actually occur in the story itself) about what life is like for someone with an injury like Jay’s, including bladder and bowel care, pressure sores, UTIs, and other issues. However, in some ways I would have preferred to have “seen” some of this first-hand (since we do get Jay’s point of view) rather than being simply “told” about it.

The novel is overall fairly tame by erotic standards, although it does feature one significant sex scene between Jay and Erin that is potentially one of the only realistic sex scenes I’ve seen in fiction involving a paraplegic. There were some really great moments in it, including a part in which Erin mimics the motion of her body on Jay’s cock by sucking on his thumb in her mouth. Most novels involving paraplegics shy away from sex, have sex that isn’t at all realistic for someone with that kind of injury, or “hide” the sex scene, and that’s the kind of barriers that writers like myself and others, such as Ms. Mirren, are trying to tear down. Why should someone like Erin be considered such a freak for seeing Jay–his entire self–as attractive? Why should Jay feel that his paralyzed legs are “disgusting”? And I’m willing to bet that this cultural belief is one reason so many books shy away from really having proper sex scenes such as this one.

All in all, To Each His Own is an affordable, worthwhile read if you’re at all interested in books featuring accurate portrayals of romance involving someone with a disability. It isn’t without its faults, but overall I think the strengths outweigh the weaknesses.

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2 Responses to To Each Her Own Review

  1. Ruth says:

    FYI, the second edition of (W)hole does add Stewart’s point of view just about equal to Elizabeth’s. Sorry, that’s like totally beside the point but I wanted to let you know! 🙂

    I’m excited to read this one. I always get nervous about books with dev characters but when I find out the person writing it knows what they’re talking about it’s really exciting.

    • Chie Alemán says:

      lol. You’re totally right. I’d forgotten the second edition includes Stewart’s POV. (How could I? That was something I loved about it!)

      It’s sad that I didn’t have a lot of books I could include on my recommended board on Pinterest, but this was one of them.

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