From Publishers Weekly
It's hard to believe that one Charleston, S.C., woman, from the seat of her wheelchair, has faced off President Reagan's Secret Service detail, disrupted a National Democratic convention, joined disability advocates in Cuba and—for 13 years straight—protested the Jerry Lewis muscular dystrophy telethon. Indeed, folks with a sentimental attachment to "Jerry's kids" should start at chapter one, where Johnson explains how it felt as a youngster to watch a televised "childhood death sentence" every year. Johnson, who was born with a congenital neuromuscular disease, wants kids with disabilities to grow up "prepared to survive," not merely waiting to die. Equally problematic for the spirited lawyer are media heroes like the late Christopher Reeve, who revived "telethon melodrama" by displaying himself as "a disability object, presumably tragic but brave, someone to gawk at." Johnson, whose law practice specializes in disability advocacy, has a personal assistant, a motorized wheelchair and a supportive circle of family and friends that make her active, satisfying life possible. Readers inclined to feel sorry for people with disabilities, to offer them prayers or a pat on the head—Johnson has endured both—should spare them the very real burden of providing "disability awareness training to everyone who happens by," and read Johnson's feisty book instead.
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"There is a small but discrete literature by writers who have experienced personal or family tragedy: William Styron on his depression, Reynolds Price on his paraplegia, Kenzaburo Oe on his brain-damaged son. . . . To read these stories can deepen everyone's humanity. Too Late to Die Young can proudly take its place among these other important books."--The Washington Post
"A remarkable portrait of a woman who is proof that the disabled can live lives filled with purpose and pleasure."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Masterfully pace and structured . . . Too Late To Die Young serves as both a memoir and a kind of revolutionary act itself."--Mary Johnson, Ragged Edge Online
"Readers inclined to feel sorry for people with disabilities . . . [should] read Johnson's feisty book instead."--Publishers Weekly
"Johnson's rich, descriptive writing, humor, and Southern cadence make the book entertaining, thought-provoking, and meaningful."--The Post and Courier (Charleston, South Carolina)
"She insists on being her own complicated person, a Southern lady, for instance, as well as a socialist, an atheist, a lawyer, and a born storyteller with a wicked sense of humor. . . . But her writing is so vibrant, so interesting, and so funny that you can't help but feel as if you're in her world, sitting beside her and hearing her story for yourself."--The Tampa Tribune
"This lady pulls no punches. An entertaining look at an activist who insists on living life her way, disability or no; strongly recommended."--Library Journal
"A wonderful mix: a keen mind, exuberance, activist politics, along with a special brand of Southern women's wit."--Adrienne Rich