Archives for posts with tag: Memoirs

Thank goodness we can celebrate Teen Read Week no matter what age we are. For me, part of it is nostalgia and part of it is awe at what’s out there now for teens.

As a teen I loved science fiction by Asimov, Heinlein and Clarke, probably a precursor to my adult love of thrillers and mysteries. I didn’t care about the fantasy parts of the genre, just heroic conquering of planets for the good guys. I also enjoyed some historical fiction like Rosemary Sutcliff’s Lantern Bearers. I was pleased to see Nancy Pearl also recommended it in her Book Crush: for Kids and Teens. Reading Grapes of Wrath in English class hooked me on John Steinbeck. Someday I’ll reread some of his novels, a rarity for me. I just love his characters.

Another English teacher made us read a memoir. I read Keep Your Head up Mr. Putnam! about Peter Putnam’s first guide dog. Reading about a living blind adult was a great change from Louis Braille and Helen Keller bios, all that I’d had before for role models.

How times have changed! This year, Teen Read Week, a national initiative created by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), features a multi-lingual “Read for the fun of it!” theme. The theme highlights the resources and services available to the 22 percent of the nation’s youth who speak a language other than English at home.

A national group of authors and publishers, We Need Diverse Books published the following piece this week: “Perspectives of Authors With Disabilities – We Need Diverse Books”

There are many more memoirs of people with disabilities suitable for reading by teens. Two of my recent favorites are Needles by Andie Dominick about her life with diabetes and Prison Baby by Deborah Jiang Stein about the emotional issues related to her adoption and how they influenced her life. My Beloved World by Sotomayor (who also has diabetes) provides a great read for teens about a full productive life with a disability on board.

To find out what’s new in teen books, beyond the best sellers, try looking for Alex, Printz, Schneider Family and other book award winners. For those of you who think you’re beyond teen reads, remember Harry Potter was penned for teens, not adults.

While snooping around for trends in teen reads, I discovered a mystery by Linda Greenlaw, Fisherman’s Bend, a fishing boat captain whose writing I love. I’m off to start reading it and hopefully to lose myself in the joy of reading. That’s the point of Teen Read Week, no matter what age one is.


So what’s happening in the lives of people with disabilities twenty-five years after the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed? If one judges by memoirs, people with disabilities and their families are moving along in society, facing and sometimes prevailing against the architectural, communication and attitudinal barriers the ADA was passed to help ameliorate.

Life is Short; No Pun Intended by J. Arnold and B. Klein chronicles the life experiences of the stars of the “Little Couple”. They adopt children, deal with cancer, and strive to make the world a better place. In Tripping into the Light, Charlie Collins works to overcome the low self-esteem he’s had since childhood because of his blindness. His narrative talks freely about his drug and alcohol issues as well as his blindness. In Every Day You Fight, Stuart Scott and L. Platt chronicle Scott’s fight with cancer. This ESPN anchor believed you beat cancer by “how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live”.

Life in the balance: a physician’s memoir of life love, and loss with Parkinson’s disease and dementia by Thomas Graboys, with Peter Zheutliwas published in 2008 but speaks honestly of disabilities acquired later in life.

My favorite of the recent memoirs is Don’t Call Me Inspirational: A Disabled Feminist Talks Back by Harilyn Rousso. For psychotherapist, painter, feminist, filmmaker, writer, and disability activist Harilyn Rousso, hearing well-intentioned people tell her, “You’re so inspirational” is patronizing, not complimentary. In her empowering and at times confrontational memoir, Don’t Call Me Inspirational, Rousso, who has cerebral palsy, describes overcoming the prejudice against disability– not overcoming disability.This book will probably go on my list of all-time favorites for disability memoirs along with works by Nancy Mairs.

Those of you who parent a child or adult with disabilities may like The Broken and the Whole by C. Sherman. The author is a rabbi and the father of a quadriplegic son who grapples honestly with the theological and practical issues caused by a disability in the family. Also be sure to read the beautiful poem “Stargazing” Johnson Cheu just posted about thoughts and feelings parents and adult children have:

Pick up a memoir and get some wonderful insights into the lives of the 19% of us living with disabilities. It’s a great way to celebrate the ADA’s 25th anniversary.