Such a Pretty Girl: A Story of Struggle, Empowerment, and Disability Pride

Such a Pretty Girl: A Story of Struggle, Empowerment, and Disability Pride

by Nadina LaSpina
Such a Pretty Girl: A Story of Struggle, Empowerment, and Disability Pride

Such a Pretty Girl: A Story of Struggle, Empowerment, and Disability Pride

by Nadina LaSpina


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A memoir by a disability rights activist

Such a Pretty Girl is Nadina LaSpina's story—from her early years in her native Sicily, where still a baby she contracts polio, a fact that makes her the object of well-meaning pity and the target of messages of hopelessness; to her adolescence and youth in America, spent almost entirely in hospitals, where she is tortured in the quest for a cure and made to feel that her body no longer belongs to her; to her rebellion and her activism in the disability rights movement.

LaSpina’s personal growth parallels the movement’s political development—from coming together, organizing, and fighting against exclusion from public and social life, to the forging of a common identity, the blossoming of disability arts and culture, and the embracing of disability pride.

While unique, the author's journey is also one with which many disabled people can identify. It is the journey to find one's place in an ableist world—a world not made for disabled people, where disability is only seen in negative terms. La Spina refutes all stereotypical narratives of disability. Through the telling of her life’s story, without editorializing, she shows the harm that the overwhelming focus on pity and on a cure that remains elusive has done to disabled people. Her story exposes the disability prejudice ingrained in our sociopolitical system and denounces the oppressive standards of normalcy in a society that devalues those who are different and denies them basic rights.

Written as continuous narrative and in a subtle and intimate voice, Such a Pretty Girl is a memoir as captivating as a novel. It is one of the few disability memoirs to focus on activism, and one of the first by an immigrant.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781613320990
Publisher: New Village Press
Publication date: 07/19/2019
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 543,698
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Nadina LaSpina is a prominent activist in the disability rights movement and has been arrested countless times for civil disobedience. You can find her in the streets with Disabled In Action, ADAPT, the Disability Caucus, and other groups. After teaching Italian for many years, LaSpina created and taught courses in Disability Studies at The New School. She lives in New York City.

Table of Contents

Part I Che Peccato: What a Shame 1

1 Riposto 3

2 The Best Hospital 19

3 Blood Sisters 33

4 Blythedale 47

5 The Real World 57

6 Better Off 75

7 A Place Where I Never Want to Go Back 87

Part II Fighting Back 99

8 We Can Fight for Our Rights 101

9 Just One of the Graduate Students 111

10 The Handicapped Teacher 127

11 Amputation 135

12 You Do What You Have to Do 143

13 Not a Real Cheery Picture 155

Part III Love and Activism 171

14 Love and Activism on Two Continents 173

15 Free Our People 187

16 No Need to Settle 197

17 The Handsome New Guy 207

18 Dead of Winter 219

19 Danny 227

20 Crips Are Beautiful 245

Part IV Come Sono Contenta: How Happy I Am 257

21 Vado Via Contento: I'm Going Away Happy 259

22 Come Sono Contenta: How Happy I Am 269

23 Thank You, Life 279

24 I Promise We'll Have Fun 293

25 Riposto 311

Epilogue 327

Acknowledgments 337

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