At the age of forty-three, Amy Lee Lillard learned she was autistic. She learned she was part of a community of unseen women who fell through the gaps due to medical bias and social stereotypes.
A Grotesque Animal explores the making, unmaking, and making again of a woman with an undiagnosed disorder. How did a working- class background and a deep-rooted Midwest culture of silence lead to hiding in plain sight for decades? How did sexuality and anger hide the roots of trauma among the women in her family? And what does it mean to be a queer, disabled, aging woman, a descendent of wild but tamed mothers and a survivor of the things patriarchy inflicts?
Through wide-ranging styles and a combination of personal storytelling and cultural analysis, Lillard dissects anger, sexuality, autistic masking, bodies, punk, and female annihilation to create a new picture of modern women.
“Amy Lee Lillard’s A Grotesque Animal is a book that bares both teeth and soul. A bold and unabashed call to name our stories and ourselves, to take off the masks we’ve been taught to wear and to live without shame. In a collection of essays both searching and searing, Lillard explores the possibilities of womanhood, weirdness, selfhood, and home, interrogating the stories and silences we inherit, those we tell ourselves, and those we cast off. This is a book for the weird women—the queer women, the disabled women, the childfree and witchy women, who resist and refuse the narratives they’re given about what their bodies should be, who write their own stories, and who claim a new language for their lives.”—Melissa Faliveno, author, Tomboyland
“This striking memoir sheds light on a topic that has been hidden for too long: the challenges and triumphs of girls and women with autism. At a time when growing numbers of women are receiving this diagnosis at mid-life, Lillard offers clarity, hope, and companionship to those faced with relearning who they are and what matters most to them.”—Kaitlin Ugolik Phillips, author, The Future of Feeling: Building Empathy in a Tech-Obsessed World