Firsts Oleb Books

Firsts: Review

Firsts: Coming of Age Stories From People With Disabilities
Firsts: Coming of Age Stories From People With Disabilities

The following review appeared on Amazon on May 11 2019.

Read the review on the website here.

Excellent Collection

‘Up until now, the vast majority of books I have won on goodreads giveaways have been mediocre to poor. There are plenty I don’t win that a later read and love, but for some reason, I have bad luck with the ones I do win. I am pleased to write that with Belo Miguel Cipriani’s book “Firsts: Coming of Age Stories by People with Disabilities,” this was not the case. This collection of essays was an excellent read, not to mention a decent representation of the wide variety of people with disabilities.

Firsts surprised me off the bat when I read the introduction from the author who is a Blind gay man of color. Mainstream disability narratives are often dominated by white, heterosexual, and other non-marginalized voices, leaving out a huge amount of disabled voices with a variety of perspectives to offer outside the norm. Given my rough history with goodreads giveaways, I expected just that. I was so happy to continue reading and discover so many queer disabled stories in the book. Several gay and bisexual authors contributed and it was excellent to see my communities represented in this way. Cipriani was also not the only author of color.

This book also showcased a wide variety of disabilities. We get to hear from Blind folks, those with PTSD, part time and full time wheelchair users, those with severe tinnitus and hearing loss, people on the Autism spectrum, and others. It was again, a pleasant surprise to see such a wide variety of perspectives included in this book when all too often, many disability stories center on one type of disability. This has functional relevance at times such as a campaign focusing on a specific disability, but in others, such as disability accommodations and events, the lack of diverse representation is often a problem.

Even though this book hit on many unheard demographic experiences, that is not the only reason I liked it and gave it 5 stars. Most of the essays are well written and accessible and the book is well edited. The essays capture the experiences at a reading level accessible to many. The title says that they are “coming of age” stories but I would say that is not accurate. Some stories are coming of age but many others are experiences from people already well into adulthood. The stories range from heartbreaking to sentimental. One story, in which a wheelchair user details his first experience with a gay hookup website ripped out my heart. Each narrator has their own unique voice and perspectives on living with disabilities.

I can definitely feel confident recommending this book, knowing it represents a wider variety of voices than many disability stories and anthologies do. And, it’s just plain entertaining’