MISSING PIECES: A Chronicle of Living With a Disability by Irving Kenneth Zola

MISSING PIECES: A Chronicle of Living With a Disability

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The world of ""normals"" and the world of ""in-valids""--knowingly weighed. Zola, a Brandeis sociologist, was originally paralyzed by polio from the neck down at age 15; he had recovered to the point of scattered weakness when he was in a serious auto accident which shattered his already-affected right leg. Despite a manifest handicap (he wears leg-and back-braces, and uses a cane to walk) and subsequent training to be ""both a social observer and a psychological counselor,"" for over 20 years Zola ""succeeded in hiding a piece of myself from my own view."" Then he went to Het Dorp, a 65-acre village in the Netherlands designed to house 400 severely disabled adults. He had had previous contacts with the village; now he settled in for a week as a resident--doing as the others did to the point of using a wheelchair instead of walking. The body of his book is a detailed journal of that week, describing every contact and every event--cumulatively, the others' acceptance of their disabilities that impelled Zola to confront his own denial. Eventually, he was ready to reclaim what he had lost when he was ill and injured: the right to be sexy, to get angry, to be vulnerable, to have possibilities. And from his experience he draws conclusions, too, for social scientists in general: ""how much social and emotional separation from those we study is necessary?"" So the book, though pitched to no particular audience, might well serve two groups of readers: the more reflective among the disabled and field workers for whom ""involvement"" is still a delicate issue.

Pub Date: Jan. 26th, 1981
Publisher: Temple Univ. Press