• "A Crush" by Cynthia Rylant is a low-key story, from "A Couple of Kooks: And Other Stories About Love," about a mentally challenged individual whose withdrawal from his self-imposed shell managed to make at least three other people very happy. Rylant has a remarkable way of writing fiction as though reporting an on-the-spot event, with the result that her crisp lack of easy bathos is in itself enough to make the reader wallow in tears.
  • It's the story of hope. Ernie is mentally challenged and was sheltered, but not self imposed. His mother kept him in the house because mental retardation was sometimes associated with shame. Ernie had no choice but to stay at home. When his mother died, he was forced to go out in the world and try to cope. He fell in love with the first woman he saw, but some thought she could not be the object of anyone's desire because of her somewhat masculine appearance. It's a commentary on society and the fact that our outward appearances count for too much. Ernie didn't care if she had the right clothes or wore peach lipstick. He loved her. It's also about love--we can't judge who is lovable and who is not by whether or not they wax their lip.

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