Tag Archives: disabilities

Everybody’s Got Something to Hide*

*except for me and my monkey

Kasey to the Rescue: The Remarkable Story of a Monkey and a Miracle by Ellen Rogers (Hyperion; $23.99; 288 pages)

“Walk through one door at a time, I told myself, then look for a key to the next.   That was my strategy, and I was sticking to it.”

If you’re looking for a heartwarming present for someone this Christmas, this book may be it.   I had a copy of Kasey to the Rescue in my stash of books at the office, picked it up to scan during the lunch hour, and found it hard to close.  

Ellen Rogers’ 22-year-old son Ned was a student at the University of Arizona when he had a horrible auto accident that left him close to death.   The opening scene describing how Ellen got from Concord, Massachusetts to Tucson overnight is worth the price of admission as something amazing happened to speed her journey.   Her son survived the crash but as a quadriplegic with a brain injury.

“Pride.   Courage.   Hope.   They were all there in those three little words.”

Ned had always been extremely athletic and daring – despite a lack of natural skills – so his life came to a grim halt after the tragic event.   Inaction and depression crept in until the gift of an amazingly smart and social female Capuchin monkey gave him back his spirit, his mobility and his hope of persevering.   Kasey the monkey had been ever so patiently trained by foster parents and by the Monkey College maintained by Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled.   (As with a human college, it takes two to four years to matriculate at Monkey College.)

Rogers’ telling of this tough, but inspirational, tale is as humorous as it is gripping and touching.   If this were an advertisement for a Disney film, you would read, “You’ll laugh, you’ll cry.”   This story is not a Disney film…  It’s real life.   You’ll laugh, you’ll cry.

Well recommended.

“This gem of a book will capture the hearts of readers everywhere.”   Doris Kearns Goodwin

“A book to change your life.”   David Doss, Making Rounds with Oscar

“The story told in this book is one of hope, perserverance, laughter, and most importantly, family.”   Megan Talbert, Executive Director, Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled, Inc.

This review was written by Joseph Arellano.   A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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Double Take

Double Take: A Memoir by Kevin Michael Connolly

“…you are only disabled if you are incapable of overcoming the challenges presented in any given situation.”

Kevin Michael Connolly is an accomplished young American, twenty-three years old.   He was a high school wrestler, a competitive downhill skier in college, and a silver medalist in the X Games broadcast around the world.   He’s traveled to many places around the world.   He’s usually seen moving along on a skateboard.   He’s had his photographs exhibited by the Smithsonian, and has a girlfriend in New Zealand.

Did I happen to mention that he was born without legs?   No.   Maybe that’s because Connolly does not view himself as disabled.  

Reading this memoir reminds the reader that perspective is everything.   Not only is it entertaining, but there are several points where you’ll find yourself laughing out loud.   Connolly does not take pity on himself; instead he focuses on the fact that he’s already had a great life and he’s well-known.   Maybe if Connolly had been born with legs he’d have been an average Kevin who never left Montana.

This is a memoir unusually illustrated with some of Connolly’s photos of shocked people staring at him.   It is an inspiring read about a human being who doesn’t concern himself with what he has lost or never had.   He’s a lucky man, sharing his bounty with us.

Harper Studio, $19.99, 227 pages

Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review.

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We’re giving away an amazing book!

Double Take: A Memoir is an amazing new book from Kevin Michael Connolly; it’s 5-star rated at Amazon.   We will post our own review of this inspiring book in the near future, but in the interim you can win one of three copies that we have to give away!   Yes, we have 3 new, hardbound, copies of Double Take to give away courtesy of SallyAnne McCartin and Associates and HarperStudio.

Here is a synopsis of the book:

Kevin Michael Connolly is a 23-year-old who has seen the world in a way most of us never will.   Whether swarmed by Japanese tourists at Epcot Center as a child or holding court at the X Games on his mono-ski as a teenager, Kevin has been an object of curiousity since the day he was born without legs.   Growing up in rural Montana, he was raised like any other kid (except, that is, for his father’s MacGyver-like contraptions such as the “butt boot”).   As a college student, Kevin traveled to 17 countries on his skateboard and, in an attempt to capture the stares of others, he took more than 30,000 photographs of people staring at him.   In this dazzling memoir, Connolly casts the lens inward to explore how we view ourselves and what it is to truly see another person.   We also get to know his quirky and unflappable parents and his spunky girlfriend.   From the home of his family in Helena, Montana to the streets of Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur, Connolly’s remarkable journey will change the way you look at others, and the way you see yourself.

Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants said of Connolly’s book, “Kevin Connolly has used an unusual physical circumstance to create a gripping work of art.   This deeply affecting memoir will place him in the company of Jeanette Walls and Augusten Burroughs.”

And a reader, Cathy Yetter, said:  “I read the book straight through, only stopping to sleep and snack.   Kevin Connolly’s book ‘Double Take’ gave me the feeling of sitting by a campfire with intimate friends just back from distant parts unknown, listening to their adventure tales that you know are true but hard to believe none the less.”

Here are the simple rules for entering this book giveway contest.   To enter the contest once, just send an e-mail to josephsreviews@gmail.com .   For a second entry, you just need to indicate who has been your inspiration in life, and why.   That’s it.   Only persons who live in the United States are eligible and you should be able to supply a residential (street) address rather than a P.O. Box for delivery.   Prior contest winners at this site are again eligible.   This contest will close to entries at midnight Pacific Standard Time on Friday, January 8, 2010.  

Munchy the Norwegian Forest Cat – our contest administrator – will pick the names of the three winners out of a large plastic container on January 9th, and we hope and expect to announce the winners on this site on Sunday, January 10, 2010.  

Good luck and good reading!

 

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