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Gwyneth Ferguson Matthews.

Toronto, Women's Press, c1983.
192pp, paper, $8.95.
ISBN 0-88961-080-0.

Grades 10 and up.
Reviewed by Phyllis James.

Volume 12 Number 3
1984 May

Gwyneth Matthews, known for her script writing for television, expounds with compelling understanding the desires and needs of the disabled. A paraplegic herself for the past seventeen years, she makes her writing candid, realistic, and of necessity subjective. Her own biography is supplemented by information from numerous interviews with other disabled who offered frank and logical opinions on all phases of their lives. The reader learns that the disabled, fighters all, have gained the right to live as normal a life as possible through their own efforts. In reading, we become aware of their frustrations yet realize that anyone at any time could join the ranks of the disabled.

At the outset, the writer establishes the four phases a person, suddenly disabled, must endure. These are shock, denial, depression, and finally adjustment. Chapters deal in a forthright way with such subjects as sexuality, and practically with housing, education (a must), employment, and social assistance. There are obvious biases, but the reader becomes acquainted with fears, worries and the anger of the disabled to a disinterested and often callous public.

The text has a scholarly approach, but is not too technical for the lay reader and is well organized. We learn to empathize rather than pity. The disabled do not wish to be called courageous. They would rather enjoy easy access to travel and other amenities of life that able-bodied take for granted. The book might be depressing at times but for the writer's humour that shows through her anger.

The paperback is printed in clear type with a useful foreword, introduction, and bibliography. Includes a resource guide and a list of Canadian self-help and advocacy groups.

Matthews has been active in writing and speaking on the subject she knows so well. This small volume could prove invaluable in high school libraries and has a place in all libraries to educate the public.

Phyllis James, Qualicum Beach, BC.
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