reviews of Beyond the Pale
“A graceful, perceptive rendering of a misunderstood condition.”
– Kirkus Reviews
"An extraordinary mix of memoir and manifesto" – Maclean’s
“Folklorist Urquhart writes poetically and movingly about her daughter…readers will weep and smile.” -- Booklist
“The way Urquhart struggles with these questions ultimately reflects her greatest quality as a writer. From the start she isn’t afraid to make the personal political, to delve into her particular experience while also acknowledging its limits and investigating what lies beyond them. Urquhart’s as interested in championing individuality as she is in embracing our shared humanity. But she never shies away from the fact that cherishing both can be a knotty, contradictory affair.” –The Globe & Mail
"[Urquhart is] highly relatable both as a typical exhausted first-time mom and as the parent of a child with a genetic disorder, and she writes with an aching honesty.” –Toronto Star
"Beyond the Pale is an affecting memoir that is as informative as it is poetic." -- Elle Canada
“This touching and personal memoir is a must-read for parents of children with genetically inherited special needs, or anyone interested in genetics, albinism or family trees in general.” –This Magazine
“What makes this pilgrimage fascinating, even for a non-parent unfamiliar with albinism like me, is Urquhart’s cultural reportage.” – Molly Peacock, Literary Review of Canada
Emily Urquhart has written a courageous and ambitious book. Beyond the Pale offers an intimate account about raising a daughter with albinism, a lucid portrait of related genetic, medical and social issues, and a disturbing reminder of the brutal violence that many people with albinism continue to face today.
-Lawrence Hill, author of The Book of Negroes and Blood: The Stuff of Life
Beyond the Pale is a brave, thoughtful, clear, and always graceful journey through the terrifying randomness of genetics and the unexpected ways genetic anomalies can mark not just children, but all the lives around them. Best of all, it ends with a surprise—one that will interest anyone thinking of having a family.
—Ian Brown, author of The Boy in the Moon: A Father’s Search for his Disabled Son
An investigation, inspired by a child with albinism, that delves into secret histories and fables, blooms into an adventure to Tanzania, and finally culminates in the inheritance of family stories, Beyond the Pale is an elegant, complex wonder. Urquhart carries a light into a world of shadows as she confronts ancient fears and violence on behalf of her child. In probing what makes us different from each other and what unites us--how we are forged by both our genes and our stories--she creates a legacy of belonging for her daughter and a beautiful contemporary fable for all of us.
—Maria Mutch, author of Know the Night: A Memoir of Survival in the Small Hours
Driven by a mother’s love and a scholar’s curiosity, Beyond the Pale is a warm and unflinching memoir about hope and the resilience of the human spirit. After she lerns her baby daughter has albinism, Emily Urquhart marches bravely into the heart of the dark folk tales and superstitions that have long surrounded her child’s genetic condition. Determined to mine the past and popular culture for lessons to build her daughter a better future, she takes us along on a fascinating quest, from fear and brutality in Tanzania to old family secrets in Niagara Fals. Rich with stories that both horrify and inspire, the result is a haunting and moving journey – one that says far less about genes than it does the power of people to overcome.
—Carolyn Abraham, author of The Juggler’s Children: A Journey into Family, Legend and the Genes that Bind Us
Beyond the Pale is a powerful story about maternal love, the long reach of family and the ways -- good and evil -- we react to disability. And what a guide we have in Emily Urquhart -- a wonderful writer who is generous, honest and not afraid to pose the hardest questions. This book took me by the hand on the first page and never let me go.
—Katherine Ashenburg, author of The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History
There is so much wisdom collected on these pages. Beyond the Pale is a beautiful weaving of the threads of history and lore that combine to make a family, gathered with the fierce, exhaustive love that overtakes us when we become parents. Emily Urquhart studies folklore and family ritual in academic theory until the birth of her very own snow-white child turns her investigative insights onto her own people. In her struggle to make sense of this genetic difference, she illuminates connections that are common to us all.
—Gillian Deacon, author of Naked Imperfection: A Memoir