To Kim Tucker, solidly in the Asperger’s section of the autism spectrum, the colors blue and green and gray are not just colors, but rather whole worlds of iridescent life. Likewise, to say that Under the Banana Moon is full of laughter and love and heartbreak is to only scratch the surface.
Growing up, Kim couldn’t speak when there was more than one person present, and sometimes even then her words failed her. But she could always write. More comfortable in the company of cats, or passing notes to grandmother, she found peace where she could, and avoided the frightful parts of the world—like anything that was the color green. But school brought whole new worlds of fear: other kids. Their words and feelings were indecipherable. Their touch was toxic. She survived with scars. As a teenager, she felt the same urges as her peers but went about it in extreme ways: when she drank, she went to the hospital; when she dated, she got married. Her husband, Howie, was her high school sweetheart. He was also her best friend and the father of her three children. He took care of her and managed her disability. When he was diagnosed with ALS, their roles reversed, the world collapsed—but they kept going. Some things Kim could never learn (like how to drive a car… without crashing), but some things she could. Like how to help her husband die, and how to live to tell the story.
In her book, as in her life, tears and laughter are like a rhyming couplet, similar expressions of the same deep feeling. Only with both can Kim tell her story which is, in the end, about perseverance, and joy, and love beyond lifetime.
Kimberly Gerry-Tucker emailed me and asked me to review her book.
I read the description of Kimberly’s book and wasn’t quite sure whether to accept her request.
Under the Banana Moon is a memoir, and the title tells her readers what her memoir is about.`
I come home from my day job as a clinical social worker and become immersed in urban fantasy and murder mysteries. It’s my escape from a job that oozes reality, illness, and loss every day.
But as I re-read Kimberly’s email, and the book description above, there was a huge tug around my heart, and I knew that I had to give this book some time. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had some hard times in my life. I’ve lost people I love, made some mistakes, you get my drift. Into every life a little crap must fall, right?
So I was intrigued by Kimberly’s story. And as I started reading Under the Banana Moon, I was glad I listened to the heart tug.
First of all, I need to tell you that I love the way Kimberly uses words. Like this:
“If I did not write, I feared that the unexpressed letters may dribble out of my mouth as I slept at night. I imagined them trickling down my face in times roman script.”
I love these sentences. As I sat reading her book, I could visualize Kimberly’s words traveling down her face in my favorite font. Lovely.
If you read Under the Banana Moon, keep a box of Kleenex by your side, because there are parts of her story that are very sad. But I also want you to get ready to raise your fist in the air, and shout BOO-YAH. Kimberly’s story reminds me of my favorite Eleanor Roosevelt quote, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Kimberly takes on a host of things she was sure she could not do, as her husband Howie’s condition deteriorates. Despite her own illness, Kimberly finds things within herself that she never knew existed.
Kimberly’s story is real, the emotion is raw and painful; her words paint the portrait of a woman losing the love of her life to ALS, and discovering things about herself she never dreamed existed.
I’m giving Under the Banana Moon 5 stars, a must read for anyone who has gone through, or is going through, hard times.
And hey, if those hard times haven’t stopped by to visit you yet, hang in there because it will come, just like the tax man stops by your paycheck every few years to take Uncle Sam’s cut. Kimberly’s book will show you how to handle the crap with love, laughter, and an amazing grace.