Books & Reviews

‘The Man On The Middle Floor’, by Elizabeth S. Moore: Book Review

I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

the-man-on-the-middle-floorStar Rating: ★✰✰✰✰ 

Three people living in the same building but barely knowing of each other’s existence. Karen is a doctor and researcher, doing a study on the rising rates of autism. Tam has just lost his job as a policeman and now spends his days between takeaway containers and whiskey bottles. Nick is trying to live independently with his Asperger’s but has to deal with visits from his grandfather disrupting his routine.

But these three lives become intertwined when Karen tries to get Nick a job in her hospital and Tam’s inner-policeman is awakened with an unsolved murder in a nearby park.

Told from all three perspectives, The Man On The Middle Floor attempts to look at how society sees and treats people with autism. At least, that’s what I think it was trying to do. It’s difficult to know exactly what the point of this book is. In all honesty, I don’t know much about autism, but I do know that autistic people can get a bad rep, and this book does nothing to hinder that point of view.

Nick is one of the most unsympathetic characters I’ve ever read. He has all of the qualities that people use against autistic people, such as complete lack of empathy towards people and animals (the bit with the cat is completely unnecessary). Not all autistic people are like this!

Karen’s study, looking at proving that autistic people can function normally in the workplace, could have been a great way to go against these stereotypes, but Nick’s character traits mean this falls through as well. It’s all kind of a giant mess.

Karen is one giant stereotype herself. She personifies the stereotype of women not being able to have a job and a family. She’s divorced and sees her own kids as more of a chore that takes away time from her job. She basically kidnaps her own son because she thinks it will help her research, instead of doing what’s best for him and leaving him with his sister. She doesn’t report Nick’s seriously inappropriate behaviour in the morgue because she knows it will make her research look bad.

She’s just a terrible person overall. The opinion that women can’t have a successful job and be a mother is so prevalent and, in my opinion, a character like this is just dangerous because she does nothing to dispel this ridiculous opinion.

Even Tam is a stereotype of a man. He’s attracted to every single girl he meets throughout the book and is proud of himself for not acting on his attraction to Nick’s mother, even though it would have been ridiculously unprofessional of him to do so. Not being inappropriate at work is not something to be proud of, it’s just called being a decent human being.

I didn’t hate this book when I finished it, I just disliked it a little bit, but the more I thought about it afterwards the angrier I got about it. I don’t normally like to say just negative things about a book, but the characters in this book just make me so mad that I don’t feel like looking for something good to say. 

6 thoughts on “‘The Man On The Middle Floor’, by Elizabeth S. Moore: Book Review”

  1. Ooooh, really interesting to read your review… I’ve just started reading it and now I’m intrigued – have mostly read good reviews but it’s always good to get a different perspective. We’ll see how I get on with it… (Just a quick question, did you have any problems with your Netgalley copy of the book? Mine seems to have gone a bit funny on my kindle) Thanks! Rhi

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    1. To be honest I didn’t dislike the book that much as I was reading I, it was more as I thought about it afterwards it just kept niggling at me how difficult the characters were to like and to sympathise with. I’d be interested to see what you think of it once you’re done, send me the link for your review if you can 🙂 I didn’t have a problem with my netgalley copy to be honest, maybe send them an email or something if it’s a big problem?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for getting back to me. The copy seems to have sorted itself out now, it was just one section that went funny. I think I know what you mean about the characters, so far they’re not very likeable are they? Will let you know when I finish it.

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  2. Just out of curiosity, what does Nick do to the cat? I have mild Asperger’s, and I can’t stand the stereotype that all or most people with Asperger’s Syndrome have incredibly low levels of empathy or are worse, actually dangerous. Some people seem to associate having Asperger’s with being a sociopath, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I might be interested in reading this book because I’m intrigued by just about anything that involves a central character on the autism spectrum, and I can certainly acknowledge that people with Asperger’s are a mixed bag just like anyone else and not all of them are ‘nice,’ but their portrayal in the media (especially in the wake of mass shootings) really concerns me.

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    1. He picks up the cat by the neck and basically chokes it to death because he doesn’t realise how hard he’s holding it, and then comments on how much better the cat is now that it’s not moving or making noise.
      I’d be curious to know what you think of it if you do read it. I don’t personally know anyone with autism so anything I do know is just from what I’ve read or seen in the media, including how bad these portrayals can be. I’d like to know what someone who knows more than me thinks of Nick in this book. I read a few other reviews and no one seems to have felt as badly as bad about it as I did, so maybe I just overreacted (even though I don’t think so). So please do let me know if you read this book and what you thought?

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      1. I’ve heard of cases where autistic people inadvertently killed small animals like hamsters (by doing things like squeezing them too tightly,) but I think that’s generally reserved for people with conditions like infantile autism. I read in a review that this book involves the sexual abuse of an autistic child, so I’m guessing that’s Nick? It’s possible that he has other things besides his autism contributing to some of his behaviors.

        A while back I wrote a novella which involved a mentally disabled man murdering a sixteen-year-old girl, and I thought it was important to put emphasis on the fact that he didn’t do it BECAUSE he was handicapped, or because he ‘didn’t know better.’ I think most people know that not all people with disabilities are good, but the kind of mindset that people with conditions like MR and autism ‘can’t help’ committing violent acts can help perpetrate a really destructive stigma. I might read the book eventually (it’s only a couple dollars on Kindle), and if I do I’ll tell you what I think of it. 🙂

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