Monday, January 28, 2013

(7)Dwarf by Tiffanie DiDonato

by Tiffanie DiDonato

Publication Date: November 27,2012
Pages: 272

Tiffanie DiDonato was born a Dwarf.  Her parents were expecting a happy, healthy, "normal" baby. And instead they had a daughter with Dwarfism.  Tiffanie tried to be a "normal" kid - but she got discouraged often.  She wanted to be able to turn on a light switch without using a spatula.  She wanted to be able to touch her own ear.  So as a teenager she made the decision of having the controversial bone lengthening procedures that would add inches to her tiny frame.  When it was all said and done she hit 4'10".  Dwarf is the memoir of Tiffanie's childhood.  The pain she endured, both emotionally as someone who was "different" at school and physically as she gets very detailed about her surgeries and the healing process.  Her memoir continues on with attending college and meeting her husband, Eric. Tiffanie is pretty open with everything she went through.  From the embarrassing moment when she got her first period to having to deal with the suicide of her best friend, Tiffanie is refreshingly honest.

Here is where I get "refreshingly honest" - I have really mixed feelings about the novel and Tiffanie's decision at such a young age to surgically transforming her body.  From reading some of the reviews, a lot of people with Dwarfism also had mixed feelings about Tiffanie's decision. Everyone reads a book with their own experiences clouding their perception.  For that reason, my perception is likely to be different than someone else.

I was born without my left hand.  From birth I had to adapt to the world around me in order to perform daily functions. I have BEEN there. I DO get it.  Like tying my shoes.  Or shaving my armpits.  Or putting toothpaste on my toothbrush. Or the fact that I can not physically use fingernail clippers.  I have had to "MacGuyver" (a term Tiffanie uses in the book) my way through life.  Heck. to this very day I have to have help putting on a necklace that is not long enough to fit over my head.  But not once as a child was I allowed to use my hand as an excuse for not doing something. It was NEVER mentioned in my family.  But that doesn't mean I didn't endure some severe teasing as a child, because I did. Hell, the summer before I entered kindy, the Special Education teacher told my mom she was looking forward to having me in her class.  My mother, God Bless her, said "I think not."   Even as a child, if someone would have asked if I could replace my stump with a hand, would I?  The answer then, as it is now, is no.  I am who I am because of my hand, because of my childhood, because of my parents, and because of me.

In her book, Tiffanie herself mentioned that she got a lot of flack from the Little People community because of her surgeries.  And while I respect Tiffanie's decisions to do what she did - hey this is America - I can also see where some of her biggest critics are coming from.   When she hit the national media to tell HER story, a lot of people took it to mean that THEY were not "good enough" just the way they were. Was it right, maybe not, but I can certainly understand why they feel that way.

Bottom line, Tiffanie is a unique woman.  She has this huge personality that definitely came through in her writing. Did the surgeries give her the confidence she needed in order to let her personality shine, possibly? Would she have led a productive, happy life without the surgeries, probably.  What is done is done and Dwarf is her story.


CraftyGardenMom - Tanesha said...

Thank you for this honest review. And I am so glad for you that you had a supportive family that never let you make excuses for your missing hand.

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