A highly readable memoir traces Rubin’s journey from pampered child to acclaimed mezzo-soprano.
A story that begin with a bookworm and culminates with a rising star explores blindness, sexuality and the everyday growing pains of a talented young woman. Born blind, Laurie is lucky enough to have adoring, well-to-do parents. They grant her not only a first-rate education, but skiing trips, tours of Europe and—most importantly—voice lessons. Laurie excels despite a society that disables her. She argues with directors who claim they lack “the time or resources” to work with blind singers; she approaches museums about their lack of tactile exhibits; she takes cooking classes to fill knowledge gaps left by a doting mother who protected her from learning basic life skills. Even as Laurie practices her arias and trains her new guide dog, she also learns to live openly as a lesbian. Coming out is relatively easy at college, but in post-university life, many see Laurie (a visibly disabled white woman) with her Japanese-American girlfriend and label Jenny the “Asian helper.” Laurie focuses on what she can do, rather than on any perceived lacks, so it’s no surprise when she successfully becomes an opera singer. Lyrical interludes evocatively communicate Laurie’s sense of color.
Though Laurie’s memory lane lacks the structural cohesion of a novel, her stubborn perseverance guarantees plenty of colorful anecdotes. (Memoir. 12-16)