An admiring aunt celebrates the life and impact of her niece born with spina bifida in this debut biography/memoir.
In 1983, Fraser’s niece Deihlia “crashed into the world,” with a touch-and-go prognosis. Born with spina bifida, Deihlia endured extensive emergency surgery in her early days of life and many other hospitalizations and surgeries thereafter, including two metal rods inserted into her back. Fraser, who always felt a special bond with her niece (they had the same rare blood type), shares key moments in Deihlia’s life, most particularly highlighting her niece’s embrace of many activities (including skiing while in her wheelchair) and a wide range of people while growing up in the Boston area, attending college in North Carolina, and returning home to live in her own apartment, with a roommate, post-graduation. A fan of video games, the comic book world, and partying with friends in clubs, Deihlia held a job, flirted with and dated women, and eventually cut off trademark blonde dreads for a shorter haircut as she renamed herself “Pork Chop” and hung out with jazz musicians to learn to become a trumpet player. While complications from spina bifida ultimately claimed Deihlia’s life in 2013, Fraser notes that her niece continues to appear to her as well as her friends. Debut author Fraser, who describes herself as a “writer and cosmic consultant,” has created a wonderful homage to her niece, who was clearly an engaging presence. Through a series of evocative episodic chapters, Fraser shows Deihlia’s empathy, charm (she even breaks thought to a disgruntled, burned-out cop), and challenges (her determination not to be deterred by stairs is starkly showcased in several anecdotes). The author’s discussion of her own back story and other family matters occasionally distracts from Deihla’s more compelling saga. Overall, however, Fraser has honored her niece with a memorable portrait, accompanied by a comic-book cover designed by Nye, Deihlia’s younger sister, and drawings by Gould.
A vibrant depiction of a remarkable and inspiring individual.