Cipriani, Belo. “Firsts: Coming of Age Stories by People with Disabilities”, Oleb Books, 2018.
Stories of Our Time
Lately I have been working on accessibility for people with disabilities as part of what I do in Boston. I actually become involved as a result of my friendship with a friend of mine who is blind and through her I have become more and more aware of the need to makes sure that everyone has equal access to everything. Actually, Belo Cipriani, a blind gay male who wrote “Blind” about his life, made me aware of blindness and the problems that people with disabilities face.
I had not heard from Belo is several years and then I received notice about this book that he edited. We had both moved to new cities but we quickly caught up and I looked forward to reviewing “Firsts”.
Most of us have no idea what a person with disabilities deals with and Belo knowing that gives us a wonderful introduction to the eleven stories in the volume. Along with the writers here, we go back in time and read about the first times they felt heartbreak, and the first time they dealt with an unexpected issue and they first time they realized that they had a disability. Contributors include Nigel David Kelly, Kimberly Gerry-Tucker, Caitlin Hernandez, Andrew Gurza, Heidi Johnson-Wright, Sam E. Rubin, Kevin Souhrada, Teresa M. Elguezabal, Christina Pires, Cathy Beudoin, and David-Elijah Nahmod.
There is great diversity in the stories and in the writers and I must add that each story is very special. For me, it was like going into eleven different worlds and being bale to take something from each one. I laughed and I shed tears and I learned something from each story. Had it not been for Belo Cipriani, I would have never had the chance to read such inspiring stories. I love that we feel the vulnerability of the writers and we are witness to their honesty. We see the difficulties that come with disabilities and we see how they are dealt with. Each story focuses on a different disability— blindness, deafness, autism, tinnitus, etc. Each essay has a different author and a different voice but we see that the same frustrations are shared by all.
Cipriani began writing as the result of a suggestions and it put him in a position to position to met and to help others. By having others tell their stories and thereby overcome limits that they faced. We are the very lucky benefactors of that.