If getting into Harvard sounds like an accomplishment, try getting into Harvard when you have spinal muscular atrophy and need an assistant for the most basic tasks, like tying your shoes or taking a shower. Ben Mattlin wasn't supposed to outlive his childhood, but as listeners come to find out - thanks in part to a warm and energetic performance by veteran narrator, Elijah Alexander - Mattlin not only makes it past childhood, but onto Harvard and into an accomplished writing career. Miracle Boy Grows Up is an amusing and unsentimental look at growing up not only with a life-altering disability, but growing up right in the middle of America's disability rights movement.
No one thought Ben Mattlin would live past childhood. But that didn’t stop him.
Ben Mattlin lives a normal, independent life. Why is that interesting? Because Mattlin was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a congenital weakness from which he was expected to die in childhood. Not only did Mattlin live through childhood, he became one of the first students in a wheelchair to attend Harvard, from which he graduated and became a professional writer. His advantage? Mattlin’s life happened to parallel the growth of the disability rights movement, so that in many ways he did not feel that he was disadvantaged at all, merely different.
Miracle Boy Grows Up is a witty, unsentimental memoir that you won’t forget, told with engrossing intelligence and a unique perspective on living with a disability in the United States.
This memoir had me from the opening line. Written with honesty and humour by a person who has reflected deeply on their journey through life as a person with a disability. Insightful and moving, I in turn found myself laughing out loud and shaking my head. Many questions I would deep down love to ask Ben Mattlin about his experiences are answered with humorous and unabashed frankness. Elijah Alexander was a stellar narrator, he kept me engaged until the end.