Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Book Review: Strangers Assume My Girlfriend Is My Nurse by Shane Burcaw

Shane Burcaw is a young man who does not see himself as remarkable, or any of the other adjectives one could use to describe him as special. He is disabled--he has spinal muscular atrophy, a condition similar to muscular dystrophy--but he has dedicated his life to showing how ordinary and normal his life is, and the lives of similarly differently-abled people.

He started with a blog, which grew into books and speaking engagements, which now is his full-time job. He runs a Foundation and those are the major income sources for it. In this book, aimed at older kids than his previous ones, in a series of personal essays, he tackles everything from going to the bathroom (a big topic in all of his books) to how he and his girlfriend have sex, to becoming more independent--first in his parents' house when he's able to put in an elevator and live in the basement, and later when he and his girlfriend move to Minnesota. He's profane and funny and laughs at himself first most of the time. He certainly does admit to times when he didn't find his disability so funny--as in an early chapter about his refusal to go tot he bathroom at school as that would require him to ask the nurse to assist him. But in the end, he's chosen to see all the difficulties as just life, and lemonade ingredients. He is optimistic and has a real winning attitude.

I think a lot of us who read the book will wish we had the same mental and humorous fortitude to take personal problems in stride. Shane is an inspiration, but I don't mean that in a sappy, sweet way. I mean he's a great fucking inspiration. If this shit isn't getting him down, I should be able to laugh at myself more too. I wish I could. I'm trying to. Teens in particular could really use that lesson.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

This book is published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

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