On the Street Where You Live

Written by sjmc19

With a 5 year-old autistic son at home, Becky searches for meaning and/or answers, but she’s not sure if she searching for herself or her son.

The opening pages of the story I was a bit lost on the protagonist’s motivation, but the slow unravelling of her circumstances provided a great depth of sympathy.

Two great quotations from this one (I couldn’t decide!):

“I wonder what would happen if someone splashed more colors onto that painting,” Becky said when the man did not contribute a new question.

“I believe that’s called vandalism, and it’s against the law.”

“I mean, if someone owned it. Would that still be illegal?”

The man looked at Becky. “Please allow me to say—and this is from my study of human motivations—there must be a reason you ask the question.”

“What’s the reason?”

“Might it be that you want to purchase the painting so you can do something to it?”

“It’s not for sale.”


Vivien, the musician, had been trained as a pianist and vocalist; she did not have any background working with special-needs children but had discovered her gift while teaching an autistic child—all this she explained to Becky on the phone, and the fact that she would be on tour at times and could not guarantee regular lessons year-round. Becky decided to visit Vivien by herself first. She needed all the evidence to show that they did what they could for Jude. People in the same boat, she noticed, often found more reasons to judge and to denounce.

Any parent who wonders whether he will be able to help his child find happiness will ache for Becky’s plight.

On The Street Where You Live” by Yiyun Li

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