Featured in this issue: Books by young people affected with neuromuscular diseases include Through My Eyes by a former MDA goodwill ambassador, Joey Wells; and Still Dancing by anti-bullying expert Gabrielle Ford.Other reviewed books include Different Drummers, a novel about growing up in the 1960s with muscular dystrophy; Skating Forward, a collection of profiles of figure skaters who have overcome disabilities; and A Swan in Heaven, about telepathic communication between a woman and her deceased son.
Through My Eyes, by Joey Wells, 2009, 55 pages, $19.95, Unique Image Inc., www.joeywells.net, (818) 951-7323
Former MDA Los Angeles Goodwill Ambassador and Robert Ross Personal Achievement Award recipient Joey Wells uses art and poetry to tell his story of life with myotubular myopathy. “You were driven by being told/you should no longer be living/being treated differently/was a source of motivation,” Wells writes of his early years. The poems are illustrated by simple pencil drawings of Wells’ life journey. “From hospital stays, to playing tee ball, working with MDA, and attending college, my life has taught me a lot,” he writes.
Still Dancing, by Gabrielle Ford, 2009, 191 pages, $24.99, Gabe and Izzy Publishing, www.gabeandizzy.com
Subtitled “One Dream, One Dog, One Stage: Ridding the World of Bullies One School at a Time,” this autobiography describes how Ford was severely bullied as a child and fell into despair after Friedreich’s ataxia forced her to give up her dream of being a ballet dancer. Ford, who now uses a wheelchair, regained her purpose through the love of Izzy the coonhound, and became a motivational speaker against school bullying. The book ends with numerous photos of Ford and Izzy, as well as copies of moving letters from children who were bullied or were bullies themselves until Ford and Izzy visited their schools and changed their lives. (Note: Ford wrote a column about overcoming bullying, “From a Cocoon to a Butterfly in Six Years,” in the July-August 2004 issue of Quest.)
Different Drummers, by Don Caron and Lyle Hatcher, 2009, 294 pages, $23.95, SEI Publishing, www.different-drummers-the-book.com, (509) 922-4104
This fictionalized piece, based on a true story, takes place in 1965 and tells the story of a friendship between two boys, one hyperactive and the other with muscular dystrophy. The boys embark on a series of adventures in which they test their grade school principal, the laws of gravity, and even the existence of God. Caron and Hatcher effectively capture what life was like for children with disabilities in the mid-1960s.
Skating Forward, by Joanne Vassallo Jamrosz, 2010, 137 pages, $13.99, Comfort Publishing, comfortpublishing.com, (704) 782-2353
Molly Jespersen, a young woman from Massachusetts whose father has myotonic muscular dystrophy, is one of 16 profiles in this short book about female figure skaters who have overcome physical and mental challenges, written by a journalist who specializes in figure skating. Skating to raise money for muscular dystrophy research, Molly — who also may have a form of the disease — is a great source of pride to her family and an inspiration to others.
A Swan in Heaven: Conversations Between Two Worlds, by Terri Daniel, 2007, 173 pages, $16.95, iUniverse Inc., www.swaninheaven.com, (541) 549-4004
A woman describes telepathic messages of unconditional love she received from her son after he died at age 16 of the rare metabolic disorder metachromatic leukodystrophy. Although severely disabled and unable to speak during the last two years of his life, Daniel’s son “speaks” in this book, sending detailed messages to his mother about love and life. Gratitude toward life, regardless of circumstances, opens the channel of communication between this world and the next, Daniel writes.