Read an eARC from NetGalley
Content warning: ableism, depression, suicidal ideation, medically-assisted suicide, assault (sexual and physical, mentioned), child abuse, spousal abuse, eugenics, Nazis
Elsa Sjunneson is an award-winning writer, professor, and media critic. She is also Deafblind woman with partial vision in one eye and bilateral hearing aids. This memoir takes the reader through her personal history while also seamlessly incorporating critique of popular works featuring disabled characters and dispelling myths about the disabled experience through a combination of lived experience, history, sociology, and pop culture.
Infused with intersectionality, dry humor, and passion for the media critiqued, this is not one to miss.
The author Elsa Sjunneson will be featured on the blog tomorrow, October 26th, release date.
The structure of this memoir really worked for me. There’s a balance between looking at ableism across several axes, including personally, structurally, entertainment-wise, and more. I do not have a point of reference for several things that Sjunneson brought up throughout, as I’m relatively abled, she explains her reality and experiences with a patience fueled by a desire for change. There are condemnations of specific pieces of media (such as the way Helen Keller is presented to many nondisabled people as the first example), but there is also an invitation to take a walk in Sjunneson’s shoes. And after that, to examine our own ideas and perceptions. The level of detail is outstanding, and there are opportunities upon finishing to delve deeper into the histories, studies, and critiques of everything mentioned.
The footnotes woven throughout are also fantastic. They’re great for both sourcing specific examples, providing context, but also introducing necessary snark and levity. There are parts of this book where Sjunneson discusses her traumas with regards to ableism in general, but also personal anecdotes. Humor here works bother to enhance clarity but also zero in on points made.
Parts are going to make you angry alongside Sjunneson, but there is an invitation to work through ableism both witnessed and internalized. This is a fantastic read from start to finish. I am grateful for the truths and vulnerability that Sjunneson shares with the reader.