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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gives knowledge and hope to those who read it
I came across Mattlin as I was desperately searching for information on "mixed ability" relationships. My partner has SMA and has since a child and I am able-bodied (or TAB). I was worried about whether or not we could make it work, whether I would be able to handle it; the list of worries go on and on...This book eased my worries, but also gave me more than just...
Published on September 12, 2012 by Emery J

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overcoming a lot
The book is details the struggles of an almost totally disabled individual to adapt and continue to live life as much as possible. The author grew up just prior to most of the laws requiring schools provide education and opportunities to handicapped children. So his parents and the author had to be insistent and often he was the only person in his environment in a wheel...
Published 22 months ago by Rex


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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gives knowledge and hope to those who read it, September 12, 2012
By 
Emery J (Carbondale, IL) - See all my reviews
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I came across Mattlin as I was desperately searching for information on "mixed ability" relationships. My partner has SMA and has since a child and I am able-bodied (or TAB). I was worried about whether or not we could make it work, whether I would be able to handle it; the list of worries go on and on...This book eased my worries, but also gave me more than just information on mixed ability relationships. The historical research and presentation about the disability rights movement fostered my interest in disability advocacy and gave me a thorough background of the movement.

Mattlin's story is about him growing up and, like I said, the disability rights movement. He shares the challenges that he faced in a time where people with differing abilities from the mass culture were still stigmatized and discriminated against. Throughout the book, both the readers and Mattlin learn just how lucky he was to come from the background he did. A few times, he gets a glimpse into the world of other disabled people at hospitals, rehabilitation centers, camps, etc...He discovers that not all of them have parents who advocate or even want them. You learn of the case of "Baby Doe"--two parents were allowed to starve their child to death because it had a disability. Luckily for readers and for Mattlin, that did not happen to him. There are now legal protections against this, but there is still a cultural battle against prenatal testing and the ability to abort a child simply on the fact that they will be disabled (I go back and forth on this as an extremely pro-choice person). For someone who didn't really know much about the disability rights movement aside from the ADA, Mattlin provides a great explanation of what happened, when it happened, and the context in which it happened.

The other facet of his story is about his personal life, which for my purposes, was initially more important (this is now not the case. I love everything about the book!). A stone is not left untouched; Mattlin discusses his childhood background, his Big Deal (the spinal fusion he received), his parents' divorce, going to Harvard, his mother's struggle with ovarian cancer, struggling to find work and trustworthy caretakers, his personal life with his wife, and much more. From the sections about his wife, I learned about how his family made/makes it work--I now know that there is an example out there! Mattlin says towards the end of his book that he wanted ML, his wife, to preview the book and correct him if he was wrong about her perspective--she declined. I so wish that I could hear her side of the story, too. It would be interesting to see how they both reflect back on their life together.

Overall, a fantastic book. Mattlin's voice, yes he found it, makes you want to keep reading it (half a day, one sitting for me). His educated research doesn't give you that feeling that most autobiographies give you, that feeling that they just sat there and made up a bunch of shit for it to sell. You get the feeling that he's talking to you and trying to convey important messages. But you'll have to read it to find out what they are! :)
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's hard to be a superhero in a wheelchair, September 5, 2012
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As a kid, Ben loved physically invincible superheros, but being born with spinal muscular atrophy put a crimp in that as a career plan. That's what the book is about.

Written in a warm and funny style, Ben talks about the situations created by his health, his interactions with those more ambulatory (but less funny) than himself, and the obstructing curbstones of love and parenthood that we all might face.

I'd recommend this book to those who:
1. know someone in a wheelchair, but don't know how to act around that person
2. have an interest in disability rights
3. are ambulatory, for now anyway
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than inspiring., September 18, 2012
I have always enjoyed books dealing with the triumph of the human spirit, stories about people overcoming huge challenges and coming out on top. But Miracle Boy is so much more. Superbly written with insight and humor, author Ben presents a gripping tale of his and his family's incredible journey. I read it on a long plane ride...got home exhausted but stayed up finishing it. Miracle Boy has indeed grown up...and into a fine writer. May he continue to share his literary gift for inspiring, informing, educating...and most of all, entertaining readers. Looking forward to "Miracle Boy Goes to Hollywood."
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating, Humorous, Powerful Autobiography, September 22, 2012
By 
Patrick B. Marren (Crystal Lake, IL USA) - See all my reviews
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Ben Mattlin is a professional journalist, a Harvard graduate, husband to an attractive accomplished woman, and father to two daughters, and he lives in Los Angeles. So by any reasonable standard, he is a disgustingly accomplished human being with a pretty sweet existence. Far worse, he has accomplished all this without ever taking a step. He complains about being seen as a heartwarming inspirational story by people who don't know him, but if you ask me, he need not worry. To be frank, his story made me wonder what the hell is wrong with ME and what I have been doing with my own life. Tip: Don't let your spouse read this unless you want him/her to start looking askance at you 24/7 with a gaze that clearly says, "Why are you on that couch watching Dog the Bounty Hunter when you could be running down freelance work or publishing an extremely flattering portrait of me?"

All right, now to be serious about this very, very good book.

"Miracle Boy Grows Up: How the Disability Rights Revolution Saved My Sanity" is a revelatory account of the author's life (to date) against the broader background of the revolution in recognition of disability rights in the United States. If you are like me, you will have had very little previous consciousness of this neglected movement, which has been quite comparable in scale and significance to the other great civil rights struggles of the past century. (We've all heard of Martin Luther King and Gloria Steinem; until this book, I had never heard of Ed Roberts or the Rolling Quads.)

51 million Americans have some sort of disability; as Mattlin notes, each of us is merely temporarily ambulatory. Decades of agitation and demands by courageous people with disabilities simply to be recognized for what they are -- fully human beings deserving of respect and all the rights and opportunities any American citizen should expect as a matter of course -- have changed this country for the better, allowing it to tap the potential and energies of this extremely large segment of the population. More important, like its predecessors and other contemporary civil rights movements, it has brought this country and all of us just a little closer to our founding ideals of equal justice under law, and universal opportunity for life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

But the account of the civil rights struggle hardly dominates the book, nor is that what makes it truly memorable. It's Mattlin's unsentimental straightforwardness and unsparing honesty about himself and the everyday material facts of his existence that lends this book its power and, occasionally, its deep humor. Everything he has accomplished has been made more difficult by his disability; but that disability seems to have been more than offset by a singular ability: an uncommon level of personal determination and a steadfast refusal to be put off by obstacles that would almost certainly deter most "normal" people.

Yet as "Miracle Boy" has grown older and his physical abilities, like a lot of ours, have very gradually degraded, his perspective on the world in general and his fellow people with disabilities in particular has broadened, and his ability to be introspective about himself has deepened, to the great benefit of his readers.

He'll never be a fireman. But he's a heck of a writer. Read this book; you'll think, you'll feel, and you may even learn something. But for Ben's sake, try not to be inspired...and try not to be too jealous.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real Life, Real Honest, September 27, 2012
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This review is from: Miracle Boy Grows Up: How the Disability Rights Revolution Saved My Sanity (Kindle Edition)
Get past the title. This isn't the schmaltzy yarn about a "super crip" that Miracle Boy suggests. And though the author makes many references to his evolving relationship to the disability rights movement, it isn't a strident, pedantic lecture about social justice. At its heart, Miracle Boy is a disarmingly honest accounting of the author's struggle to create and maintain the kind of normal, independent life we all wish to have.

As the father of two disabled adult children, I understand full well the barriers Mr. Mattlin faces each day, most of all the critical importance of having pleasant, honest, dependable assistants to maintain full independence.

Miracle Boy accomplishes the primary purpose of any well written memoir. It allows you to understand what it is like to live in another's shoes.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring--in a good way!, September 24, 2012
Stories of disabled people having success in their lives are generally seen as "inspiring" and "heartwarming." But this story of a Harvard graduate and successful writer would be inspiring even if the author wasn't wheelchair-bound. Mattlin writes about his disability matter-of-factly, demanding that no one pity him. After reading this book, it is easy to sympathize with Mattlin, but impossible to treat him with condescension. The story is hilarious and moving by turns, and told extremely well. A great read for anyone who wants to learn more about the disability rights movement in the US while getting to know a great story.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars cheeky and moving, September 25, 2012
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This is a can't-put-it-down book--the prose whips you along, characters enter and leave with vivid specificity, and insights and confessions both high and low coexist in an anti-inspirational narrative that inevitably inspires. This cheeky ivy-leaguer with what many would consider one of the worst medical diagnoses out there--SMA (spinal muscular atrophy)--provides dead-pan accounts of a New York City upper westside childhood; a bumpy ride through Harvard (those cobblestone streets); inevitable job discrimination and prejudice; the catastrophic consequences of the loss of one thumb muscle (i.e. porn freezes on the computer screen); evil and angelic personal care attendants; horrific hospital stays;and, oh-my-god, a heart-stopping love story. And then there's his willed, verging on the snarky, resistance to the disability civil rights movement pressing in on all sides, coupled with his profound relationships with some of the greatest leaders of that movement. I LOVED this book. File it in the category: the personal-is-political-makes-great-literature.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Window into a life, August 26, 2012
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If you enjoy the kind of book that follows an interesting character as he goes about his everyday life and challenges, then Ben Mattlin's Miracle Boy Grows Up is a good book for you. Written in a breezy and engaging style and hiding nothing, Mattlin tells of his life growing up on wheels in the 1960s and 70s and living as an adult with a disability in Los Angeles. Neither a promo piece for the disability-rights movement nor an exercise in self-pity, Mattlin's book serves as a reminder that we are all human and, if you look past the superficial details, you can relate to anyone's struggles.

I love how Mattlin juxtaposes his own and his family's experiences finding creative solutions and fighting for access in schools and public places while at the same time and largely unbeknownst to him, disability-rights activists were paving the same ground for others.

And, I know it's too much to ask of one little book, but if this memoir helps to prevent even one person from making an insensitive comment to someone who has a visible difference from the norm, that would be truly awesome.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening!, September 20, 2012
Started this book and found I couldn't put it down! I cried, I laughed, and I was amazed! I learned about the disabilty rights movement. So thankful for the warriors who paved the way for those with a disability. I got to see the world through Ben's eyes. His story is candid, painful at times, but full of hope! Really made me question my outlook on a lot of my beliefs! Didn't want the book to end!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, September 15, 2012
By 
RmS (TX United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Miracle Boy Grows Up: How the Disability Rights Revolution Saved My Sanity (Kindle Edition)
This is a must read. I highly recommend this book. It is humorous, enlightening, brutally honest, relevant, and well...it's theme is so very human. A perfect read.
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