EYE CAN WRITE – book review

Eye Can Write: A Memoir of a Child’s Silent Soul Emerging by Jonathan Bryan

Hardcover, 192 pages

Published November 1st 2019 by Blink Publishing

ISBN 9781911600787

Jonathan Bryan has severe cerebral palsy, a condition that makes him incapable of voluntary movement or speech. He was locked inside his own mind, aware of the outside world but unable to fully communicate with it until he found a way by using his eyes to laboriously choose individual letters, and through this make his thoughts known. In Eye Can Write, we read of his intense passion for life, his mischievous sense of fun, his hopes, his fears, and what it’s like to be him. This is a powerful book from an incredible young writer whose writing ability defies age or physical disability—a truly inspirational figure.

This June 2022, I had the pleasure of meeting 16 year old author, Jonathan Bryan and his mother, Chantal. As Jonathan cannot verbally ‘speak’ to us in a conventional way, his mother read to us excerpts of Jonathan’s stories, his poems and told us of his journey.

I then bought his book to read more from the depths of his incredible otherwise hidden experience of the world.

I marvelled as he painstakingly, letter by letter, using the only part of his body that he can fully control – his EYE – and a spelling board, he carefully shared his frustrations, his loves, his understanding, his faith and experiences of life, education and God – which are a real encouragement and delight to read – and his journey towards finding a way to communicate his voice with the world.

Not satisfied with having a voice, this courageous young man has made it his mission to make sure that all children, who are labelled PMLD, or regardless of any disability, have the same opportunity to be given full access to education and to find and use their voice.

To accomplish his mission, he has set up a charity called ‘Teach Us Too’.

As an educationalist and a writer, this was one of the most moving stories I have encountered – both in meeting Jonathan and in reading his words in this perfect book.

It made me see how much I take for granted and how limited special needs educational understanding and provision currently is. It also made me see how undeveloped and lazy my own vocabulary so often is!

His story is so profoundly important to us all and his heart is beautiful.

What a remarkable story!!

You can find more information about Jonathan’s charity, ‘Teach Us Too’, here

Click here to see a video of him from 2018, when he was 12 years old.


Book cover of Eye Can Write: A Memoir of a Child’s Silent Soul Emerging by Jonathan Bryan


Every Friday, I join an online Christian writing community, Five Minute Friday. We are given a one-word prompt and write – unscripted, unedited, pure free-write – for 5 minutes. The prompt this week is ‘ROAD

The word ‘Road’ brought two thoughts to mind and showed me the connection between them both. The first thought was the title of a book, the content of which once had a large influence on me, called ‘A Road Less Traveled’, by M Scott Peck.

The second thought was the Indian proverb, ‘Never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.’

The connection to me was that our roads – our journey, our lives – are in many ways so foreign to each other and that to understand the heart and mind of another, we have to share much of the road with them and listen to their thoughts, behaviour and heart in the ways that they dare to express themselves.

To that end, I want to share the mind of another with you, a glimpse into the mind and heart of a dear acquaintance of mine, Michael Gardner.

He wrote this poem to describe his experience of life through the lens of “autism, O.C.D. and other mental illness.”

I asked if I might share his poem with you, to let you see something of his road, his life wearing ‘his moccasins’.

I am privileged to present his poem, ‘Is Aladdin Out There?’

Is Aladdin Out There?

(Thoughts on Autism, O.C.D and Mental Illness)

My world is insufferably insular.

I am trapped in a room so compact,

Thirty paces from North wall to South wall,

Twenty-two East to West, that’s a fact.

Enclosed in a concrete jungle,

In a suburb in a city near you,

Observing a complex labyrinth of mind-games,

My universe, a tomb with a view.

An existence of cluttered neurosis,

Order’d chaos inexorably ensues,

“RADIO TIMES” is my window, an oracle,

Television delivers my news.

Correspondence that’s filed and collated,

Each codex so meticulously placed

Alphabetical, numerical employment for one,

An environment hermetically chaste.

A germ-free haven to the human condition,

The scrunch of a newsprint floor,

Opinions one-sided, from the man in the mirror

The fear from a knock at the door.

Every day is an endless beginning

Countless dominoes toppling in haste,

Every echo a constant reminder

Of the time that I waste in this space.

I am the “Genie” inside of his bottle,

With the face peering ominously in,

I’m a prisoner to all my aversions

And the demons that scream from within.

By Michael Gardner

to ‘dot hi ‘i’ with a butterfly’ is Michael’s trademark.

Michael’s artistic trademark is to “dot his ‘i’ with a butterfly”, which I cannot do, so I said I would include an image of a butterfly and the request was for a Red Admiral.

Thank you Michael for sharing this with us.

(I will share any comments with him, if he would like me to, so feel free to comment.)

Book Review: THE CAPTIVE’S CROWN by Olusola Sophia Anyanwu

Eliana has lost her identity through a series of broken relationships, dreams and heart-ache and has now perfected the status of a high-class prostitute.

But things are changing in and around Jerusalem! There’s a ‘new man in town’ and he is turning over the tables. This man is a miracle-worker – he is healing people of illnesses, making the lame walk and, even more miraculously, he is giving people new hearts full of love and hope.

Many of her friends in the trade are giving up their professions, helping each other and learning ‘respectable’ trades. Not just her friends, but many other out-casts, tax-collectors and undesirables as well.

She is desirable, of course, but only in secret places; she cannot hold her head up high in public. But Miriam would not wish to give up her life, except maybe to quench the longing in her heart for love, for family…

She is curious…

Should she meet this miracle-man who fed thousands with five loaves?

This man who loves the unlovable?

What would he make of her?

Sophia Anyanwu takes the reader into Eliana’s captive life as Miriam and cleverly introduces her past story, weaving past pain and future hope into this creative tale of human betrayal, struggle, redemption and transformation.

She invites the reader into the fragrance of Jesus’ presence, through those he has already touched, and with them the reader witnesses the life-giving restoration of all who encounter him.

I cried, yearned and empathised with Miriam; I hoped tentatively and courageously with Eliana; and I rejoiced with all the relationships that flourished under the touch of the Kingdom of Heaven.

More importantly I experienced a re-awakening of hope in my own relationships, sensing again the real, life-giving possibilities under the miraculous power of radical love and of forgiveness.

Thank you, Sophia.

The Captive’s Crown can be bought from Amazon, or via Olusola Sophia Anyanwu’s website, where you will see all her other amazing written work.


Book Tour Review. ‘Burrowed’ by Maressa Mortimer.

Burrowed, by Maressa Mortimer – fresh out this month (April 2022)

BUY HERE on https://vicarioushome.com/ or on Amazon

This must be the first time I have read an entire book in five sittings!

This gripping adventure is billed for teens and older, but as an adult I was gripped by the plot, full of intrigue, mystery and a weaving of relationships and challenges.

Set in the fictional island community of Ximiu, our heroine, Jasira, the daughter of the Governor and a budding detective, discovers a plot to undermine the island’s way of life.

Maressa Mortimer has created a world that has challenged the status quo and put women in power. Her matriarchal world has risen to the challenge of making sacrifices to create a sustainable way of life and future.

The author cleverly approaches some very topical political themes and issues: sustainability, radical green solutions, gender/power inequalities and stereotypes, democracy, exploitation, propaganda, science, genetics and over-population. Her characters grapple with the complexities of change and the practical considerations of forcefully implementing any system.

The relationships between the characters are a forum to explore issues of trust, compromise, team-work and courage, as they learn to face their own strengths and weaknesses to overcome forces larger than themselves.

I take responsibility for the thoughts that came up in myself, but I found myself making many parallels and comparisons with political issues and the contemporary world’s approach to the environmental and climate crisis.

For me, the book reminded me of many themes that disturb me about a move towards a more authoritarian political climate.

I was reflecting on human-trafficking and the exploitation of weaker communities and our pilfering of resources to serve the richest.

I considered the gender inequalities throughout the world and how male and female can have such complimentary qualities, that working together can create a harmonious world.

I saw parallels in media propaganda and the blind acceptance of rhetoric (despite the evidence and their secret resentment) and how the ‘sheeple’ often police the authoritarian agendas, believing that it is ‘all for our own good and for our future’.

I found myself considering possibilities and ways to address climate change that maybe did not involve such drastic measures and sacrifices; that perhaps need not let the ‘baby out with the bathwater’.

I saw a world where we inadvertently let ‘science’ dictate policy and let ‘green sustainability’ become the new religion, with a focus on animals and the environment at the expense of human life.

Burrowed also brings the reader on a journey of growth through choices, courage, risk, sacrifice, justice, loss, disappointment and faith.

Emotionally, I worked through the grief and anger that God does not always say Yes in answer to our prayers. Sometimes God seems far away and when we have to deal with grief, pain and injustice, it can feel like God is either unjust or uncaring. Jasira has to process her own response to disappointment and grief, but I was left with hope in the goodness of God and that, though life can sometimes be hard and grieving is dry and grey, that surely ‘this too shall pass’ and we can re-learn to trust, to love and to hope again.

Maressa reminds us that we are allowed to see the splashes of colour in the grey winter, if we refuse to pull up the pretty flowers that appear in the cracks.

Leaving Bethany

Book and Blog review of ‘Leaving Bethany’ by Susan Sutherland

I have always been curious about the relationships between Martha’s family in Bethany and Jesus, as recounted in the Gospels, especially the Gospel of Luke.

Personally, reflecting on the gospel account of Martha buzzing around and fretting, whilst Mary sits at Jesus’ feet (having chosen the better way), I always identified more with Martha, and in my 20’s, I took the name of Martha as my confirmation name.

The home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, attracted Jesus and has always attracted me.

When I heard about this book by Susan Sutherland, it was one I had to buy and put at the top of my pile. And I have loved it!

The author, like all good historical fiction writers, takes all that is known from Biblical, cultural and historical documents and colours it in with life and credibility. It was exquisite to explore Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives and Bethany with Martha and to get to know Mary, Lazarus, Jesus and his followers, and even some of her neighbours. I loved the ordinary beauty and details of every day life, which brings depth and personality to the life behind the scenes of the gospel accounts.

It was especially wonderful to continue Martha’s journey, after the death and resurrection of Jesus, and to follow her and the other disciples as persecution forced the early Church to scatter and spread throughout the neighbouring lands.

Susan’s writing is moving and thoughtful and I found myself jotting down some beautiful and thought provoking imagery, painted with her words. Such as this, immediately after the death of Lazarus, when Martha said “A thousand sensations shattered the silence.”

No wonder Jesus wept.

I cried, I laughed; I became enraged and enamoured and like Martha, I did not want to leave Bethany.

I am delighted to learn that there is also a sequel coming, so I can find out what became of Martha, her family and the other followers of the way.

Thank you Susan for bringing these beloved characters – even Jesus – to life for me in a new way.

If you would like to buy a copy of the book……

The book can be bought from Yorkshire Publishing Direct  https://www.ypdbooks.com/religious-and-spirituality/1791-leaving-bethany–YPD02537.html

Or via the author’s website page – https://leavingbethany.com/

Susan Sutherland also writes a fascinating blog in the form of ‘interviews’ between a ‘Roman journalist,’ Aemilia Metella, and female characters of the New Testament. This is a similar style of narrative non-fiction to ‘Leaving Bethany’ – where the bare-bones and spirit of all we know of factually and historically is fleshed out into a very plausible and probable narrative.

I include a link here to her latest ‘interview’ with Phoebe, who was a benefactor of Paul and delivered an important letter from Paul to the church in Rome.

Open Heaven for simple people – reblog

You must all know how much I’m leaning about prayer over the last 12 months and how amazed I am at how God hears our prayers and answers even mine!! Yes, me. He listens to me!

Dear Jennifer, at ‘Feeding on Jesus’ blog, has produced a short audio ‘devo’, as she calls it, on this subject that has captured my heart.

Please listen and be blessed with the truth in this message.

Thank you Holy Spirit for giving Jennifer this truth to share so beautifully with us.

Click on the link below and listen for 10 minutes.

Sharing a beautiful post by Vanessa

This is such a beautiful post and has blessed me immensely. I also love the story of Ruth and Naomi.

Vanessa has been so diligent producing many posts throughout advent on the names and character of God.

I’d like to share this to give my friends access to them too.

For myself, I’ve been meditating mainly on the names of the Saviour in Isaiah 9 this Christmas.

Thank you, Vanessa.

Please click on the link below.

Book Reviews/Recommendations

Earlier this year I became an official member of ACW – the Association of Christian Writers. The wonderful writers and supporters of ACW have been a part of my life for a number of years already, through a Facebook-group communication, and I have gradually made better acquaintance of a variety of talented authors. There have been a number of online events and inspiring groups, that I have availed myself of this year and slowly I am learning how things are done to support other authors.

Having already read a number of books by these wonderful writers, today I challenged myself to write, onto ‘Goodreads’, some outstanding, as in long-awaited, reviews of some of the books I have enjoyed. As I find my way around these forums and portals, I hope to include some more. Here are my brief reviews and recommendations.

The Healing, by Joy Margetts

Set in 1231, this beautiful historical novel takes one deep into the heart of a troubled, noble soldier as he journeys from despair, to find a new, unexpected life and fresh hope in old familiar landscapes. The depth of his raw pain, his recovery and healing are all delicately explored, through the rich characters that one soon comes to love. I was delighted to hear that I sequel novella was coming…

The Beloved, by Joy Margetts

I eagerly read this as an e-book, wanting to reacquaint with the beloved characters from The Healing. This historical novella is set in 1250 and explores gratitude, courtship and the difficult task of making healthy choices. It is a delightful story, that makes one wish to physically roam the unspoilt countryside of Wales too.

Stories From The Heart, by Olusola Sophia Anyanwu

I thoroughly enjoyed these 15 entertaining, captivating short stories. They are clearly written with acute observations of the lives and attitudes of young people in Nigeria in the early 1980’s. Sophia’s own experiences and humour come alive in an authentic voice of the time, filling the stories with life, love and the optimistic concerns and dreams of those emerging into adulthood.

Walled City, by Maressa Mortimer

This is an exciting, dystopian-type adventure to a city world where emotions are banned and life is closely monitored. Infiltrating Elabi and bringing love and hope seems like an impossible mission to Gax… I loved the exploration of the concepts, characters and the story, and can’t wait to read the second book, in the Elabi Chronicles, to uncover the mysteries still to be revealed.

Your Father’s World

This post ministered greatly to my heart and soul.

Feeding On Jesus

“You are always with me, and everything I have is yours” (Luke 15:31, NIV)

“This is my Father’s world.” I recently heard Holy Spirit whisper to my heart these profound hymn lyrics as I was out and about. As I approached the main square of our city, the sky was extravagant. The Itaya River was up ahead. The beauty of the fading day rested on my senses. Holy Spirit pointed out to me how creation’s loveliness was overwhelmingly greater than the signs of poverty around the city. In spite of the bad things that happen here, this is my Father’s world.

Later, I was sitting in my rocking chair in our back yard, praying. He whispered it again. Gazing up at the soft clouds floating by, I took in His bounty. The green leaves greeted me brightly with their gentle rustling, and I received His generosity. The songbirds regaled me…

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