Earth As It Is

Earth As It Is

by Jan Maher

Paperback

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Earth As It Is 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
J-Whitman More than 1 year ago
Earth as it is is the first book I'm reviewing and I've seen praise for the authors work in between recieving the book and reading it. I had high expectations and Jan Maher did not disappoint in any regard. The book tells the genuinely touching and heartfelt story of a man, who while we may not share his inclinations as a crossdresser, we can immediately relate to on a human level. Our main character, Charlie Bader, struggles, as so many of us struggle, to find his way in the world and struggles to be understood for who he really is. It's often said that the human heart in conflict with itself is the only thing worth writing about and Maher captures this absolutely masterfully. She balances Charlie's inner struggles with his crossdressing desires, his personal affections and his wants and needs in a way that any reader can empathise with and in a way that makes you question how you too would deal with them. The relationships and situations are exceptionally well developed and I admit no shame to tearing up several times into the story, particularly in the sections regarding Charlie and his sister and a later character and her mother and father. I'm sure I wouldn't be alone in that regard as Maher manages to make these people feel real with only a relatively short amount of words. I'm hard pressed to find issues with the story and most of the issues I can find are mostly nitpicks with information rather than anything wrong with the story itself. At one point conflict in Belgium is referred to as 'The Eastern Front' rather than 'The Western Front as it was.' and some people anachronistically treat Hitler with the modern viewpoint of History's greatest monster rather than simply 'The enemy' as he would have been seen around the period of Pearl Harbour as the full extent of the holocaust would not have been common knowledge yet to my own memory. These are minor issues though and in no way detract from the story as a whole. A minor problem with the storytelling as a whole for me personally is with the fact the story takes place over large time jumps. Obviously this is necessary as it would make the book exceptionally long to cover every event of Charlie/Charlene's life, but it gets jarring when characters you've never heard of are introduced all of a sudden and disappear just as fast. There were one or two times where I had to stop and think if I knew who the characters were as I'd had no introduction to them at all and so found my ability to care about their problems suffered in this regard. I was occasionally in the position where I had to consider a situation to be horrible by my knowledge of that situation, rather than any link to the character. This is a real shame as with Maher's brilliant ability to bring characters to life, I'm sure these moments would have been even bigger gut punches than they were. Aside from this, the only major issue that does detract from the story as a whole in my opinion is the decision to reveal Charlie/Charlene's death in the first chapter. This, in my opinion, robs some of the punch in the gut that could have been achieved by putting it at the end as there are several scenes where you can't hope for a good life for Charlie/Charlene after the story concludes as you know he doesn't have much time left to live, relatively speaking. This was rather disappointing to me as a reader and I constantly thought back to it whilst I was reading as to how so many events would be more powerful if I didn't know he'd not
Darla_Ortiz More than 1 year ago
I will be the first to admit that this isn’t my normal type of book, as I usually gravitate more toward fantasy romance or thrillers. But I wanted something a bit new, and I was intrigued by the description and when I started reading the opening pages, I found Jan Maher’s writing and narrative voice to be so engaging and authentic, I just wanted to get to know Charlene/Charlie (and the others) better. It was just so easy to read and sink right into, and there was never a place I wanted to ‘stop’, which actually surprised me. But on top of that, this was an emotional whirlwind rollercoaster that I was not expecting- even though we know from the description that it will be intense and edgy and dealing with very tough life (and death) issues. From beginning to end I was totally into the scenes and LOVE these characters (even the not so nice ones). There are just so many elements to this book I was impressed with, from the insightful narrative, to the complex and changing characters, to the profound and life changing events that affect everyone so deeply. It all came together to create a powerful, unforgettable book. The ending was very bittersweet, but fitting. And the next book “Heaven, Indiana” looks awesome too! Can’t wait to read more from Jan Maher in the future!
MegKing More than 1 year ago
powerful. Haunting. Real. This was the first book I’ve read by this award-winning author Jan Maher, but it definitely won’t be the last! She has a real gift for writing descriptive and life-like scenes that bring these incredible characters and their ordeals to life in an insightful and profound and extremely though-provoking manner. I like that this book didn’t feel stale or derivative of anything I’ve ever read before, but really asked and examined deep questions and issues about life and what it means to be a human being, and how people can affect each other in so many ways, good and bad. I loved when Charlene ‘Talked’ with his sister Hannah, and also that he was able to connect with others, especially after what Ann did by rejecting him. It is a powerful read that covers a lot of territory, and does so with remarkable depth. No one is the ‘cardboard cutout cliché’ character here, and for that I’m grateful. It is engaging, quirky, jaw-dropping, surprising, sad, and inspiring… all the qualities I look for in a good novel, and it delivered an emotional win at the end. Well done.
TabithaP1 More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars "Earth As It Is” by Jan Maher was incredible! I finished it a few weeks ago and am still digesting it. I haven’t read anything like that in quite a while if ever. For once it seemed like the characters were anything but the stock, ordinary typical hero/protag guys and gals, but instead all had personal demons, struggles, secrets, and serious obstacles to overcome, flaws… I was totally into Charlie’s emotional storyline, and feel like I learned something and have a new appreciation for what it’s like for people who feel the way he does and what a challenge just living a normal life accepted by society is. And on top of that how much harder it was 50-60+ years ago when attitudes were so different. Really makes you grateful that things have changed, yet in a way there is still so far to go. But Charlie’s identity is just a part of this story--- there are just so many wonderful elements to this book, it is almost on an epic scale, but impressively it doesn’t get too convoluted, and all came together to create a fresh-feeling novel that was out of the ordinary and kept me interested throughout. This appears to be a standalone book (not part of any series) and wraps up well in the end, but it looks like there is a spinoff of sorts (Heaven, Indiana”) and I’d love to read that as well.. Recommend.
LaylaM1 More than 1 year ago
Flawless. Whenever I really love a book I feel like I have to play it cool in my reviews because I don’t want to seem overly fawning or gushing or fake. So here’s what I didn’t like – some characters in this book were total jerks. Ugh I hate bigotry. Here’s what loved: Everything else. This book is so way better than any Nicholas Sparks book and all his get made into movies – this one should too. This was a captivating novel and very easy to see why it received a starred review from Kirkus and has won awards. There is such strong, vivid writing, and the characters are all fascinating, and flawed, and going through their own transitions, especially the main character Charlie/Charlene. GREAT character development with him, emotionally and physically, and everything just felt “authentic” for lack of a better word. Dialogue, interactions, scenes, descriptions…In all honestly this is a very different type of book that I think people will be surprised how much it can touch your soul on different levels – from asking profound life questions, to facing personal demons, to meeting special people who can impact your life journey in unexpected ways. Despite what some might think, I don’t think that this is a niche book in a narrow genre defined by sexuality, and I believe that it will appeal to a wide audience. Flawless pacing, editing, formatting and presentation all around. Great job! Would love to read more from Jan Maher in the future.
NicolaF More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars "Earth As It Is” by Jan Maher is by one of the most original and well-crafted and beautifully written novels I’ve read in a long time! I was hooked from the very beginning – although at first I was confused why it would start with Charlene/Charlie’s death and secret revealed, I realized it was the author’s way of really showing respect in the sense that she’s not using it as some contrived ‘plot twist’ to shock or scandalize the reader – we know exactly what’s going on from the beginning and take this remarkable journey with Charlene/Charlie from the end… to the beginning… then to the end. I loved Maher’s use of description of the different scenery and locales (really painted each city so well, and gave Heaven such a charming personality) and her careful attention to character detail. We feel transported not only into Charlie/Charlene’s head, but also the others as well… we see the world and the time period through different perspectives and it was an interesting… and at times quite haunting… experience. This novel covers so, so much it’s impossible to sum up (and I don’t want to reveal spoilers), but it felt like I was reading several slices of real life by a character who is relatable and believable. The supporting cast is all complex and relatable in their own way (loved Minnie), and it was interesting to see how it all tied together in the end, which was quite bittersweet. An epic literary feat, to be certain, and unlike anything else I’ve read in a long time. I was really impressed with the writing and the profound message and would recommend this book with the highest of praise.
JhonniP More than 1 year ago
what? I’m not crying. You’re crying. *sniff*. Okay that was amazing. “Earth as it Is” by Jan Maher is an excellent novel that captured my attention from the beginning, pulled me in, and never once let go. Each scene was riveting, imaginative, and flowed smoothly from one to the next… and even though this is definitely a very ‘literary’ novel, there is never a “dull part” where you get bored or want to skip ahead – not even close. We are immediately intrigued by the ‘discovery’ of the body and the secret, and then we move right into getting to know Charlie and see what his life is like – and I also LOVED that it is set during the 30’s-60’ because we see just how different things are (and also how they are still the same)… Watching Charlie grow and change (quite literally) and then having it all play out against the bigger picture of the world stage and multiple cities just gave this novel such a big, complex depth that quite frankly could have easily just bombed but instead I was so mesmerized from the first page to the last…even when being darker or harsh scenes. I think the town of Heaven was a perfect setting for his story and I really felt like I was a part of this moving, remarkable story of the human experience. I would love to read more from this author in the future. The next book looks really good too! Recommend for readers of lit fiction/gender studies.
ClaireBear74 More than 1 year ago
Wow. Wow. Wow. Okay I feel inadequate to write this review because I am so blown away by this book and want so badly to do it justice and I don’t think I can. I read a lot. A LOT. And now the bar has been raised and Jan Maher has ruined me for so many books now! Haha I kid (not really). Where to start. First of all, this is the first book I’ve read on this subject (cross-dressing) and it’s just never something that I’ve had personally affect me in my life, but of course I am aware of it – just really never gave the issue much thought… each to their own, I always say… but I really felt so drawn into Charlie’s life, his world, seeing everything through his eyes, experiencing a life I’ve never thought of but felt so deeply personal and intimately connected… I just want to hug him and protect him and be his friend…but I also feel so enlightened now in a way I didn’t before, (I hope that doesn’t sound basic) – just very emotionally challenging and inspiring. I love so many things about this book, from the writing to the setting /time period to the characters (well most…) I really like that Maher took a topic that is very hot button and treated it with dignity and respect, not like a ‘gimmick’ or ‘angle’ to sell a story. It was real, raw, ugly, heartbreaking, heartwarming, and left a big mark on my heart. Highly recommend for fans of dramatic literary fiction.