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Miracle Boy Grows Up: How the Disability Rights Revolution Saved My Sanity

A memoir about growing up before, during, and after the height of the disability-rights movement, Ben Mattlin’s Miracle Boy Grows Up: How The Disability Rights Revolution Saved My Sanity (Skyhorse Publishing) has received impressive blurbs from the likes of Jay McInerney, the National Council on Disability, and our own Antje Clasen.

“I simply could not stop reading [it],” she wrote in her Amazon review.  “‘Miracle Boy Grows Up’ is an extraordinary book.   It is a literary voice telling a story worth listening to. Ben Mattlin was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disease that confines him to a life in a wheelchair.  In this memoir, he describes his life in which he beats the odds: becoming a pioneer in his elementary school and his high school in New York and then Harvard. Ben Mattlin is among the firsts to attempt and accomplish a life in a competitive world created for able bodied people.  One cannot but admire his extraordinary courage, persistence and ability to overcome obstacles.  Ben Mattlin describes how he learns to navigate uncharted territory – although he sometimes feels ‘unmoored, lost at sea’ – he succeeds at graduating cum laude, moving to California, marrying and finding his career as a journalist. He also becomes an advocate for disabled rights. Words are certainly his friends – he is an intelligent and perceptive wordsmith. Ben Mattlin has become a fine writer.”

According to a recent poll, almost half the U.S. population knows someone with a disability, but only a third is comfortable around the disabled. Too often people treat those with disabilities as if they’re doing something heroic or extraordinary for living a normal life.  Miracle Boy Grows Up demystifies disability and educates, as much as it entertains, about the realities of living with a severe, debilitating, even life-threatening disability.  With wit and humor, it skewers stereotypes and misconceptions, showing how in some ways disability is much harder than most people imagine yet in others is very much easier.  It is also a coming-of-age story about one Harvard grad’s learning to cope.

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