With the assistance of People editor Dyball (co-author: A Famous Dog's Life: The Story of Gidget, America's Most Beloved Chihuahua, 2011, etc.), first-time author DiDonato tells the remarkable tale of her lifelong battle to overcome diastrophic dysplasia, a crippling genetic disorder that not only causes unusually short limbs, but chronic arthritis.
While many children long to be taller, the author decided early on to do whatever it took to combat her body’s literal shortcomings so she could perform such ordinary tasks as taking out the trash. Born with clubbed feet, the author underwent her first corrective surgery when she was 2 days old and then again at the age 2. With arms so short she couldn’t reach her own ears or other body parts, DiDonato improvised, employing salad tongs to wipe herself and help pull up her socks. But at 8 years of age and standing only 3 feet 8 inches tall, the constant desire for greater independence led her and her mother to seek out radical bone-lengthening treatments. A veteran of dozens of childhood surgeries, DiDonato viewed the pain and temporary immobility resulting from these grueling procedures as mere means to an end. Having gained four inches from her first lengthening surgeries and endured their torturous aftermath, the author chose to undertake the procedures again at 15, seeking out a surgeon who would enable her to risk going beyond the recommended additional three inches in height to whatever length her body could take. Throughout this engaging memoir, the author’s resolve to do “whatever it takes to live an independent life” proves unwavering, even in the face of criticism from others facing similar challenges who considered her choices motivated by a lack of self-acceptance.
Sappy toward the end, but mostly uplifting and profound.