With acerbic wit and a hilarious voice, Shane Burcaw's Laughing at My Nightmare describes the challenges he faces as a twenty-one-year-old with spinal muscular atrophy. From awkward handshakes to having a girlfriend and everything in between, Shane handles his situation with humor and a "you-only-live-once" perspective on life. While he does talk about everyday issues that are relatable to teens, he also offers an eye-opening perspective on what it is like to have a life threatening disease.
In this no-holds-barred autobiography, 21-year-old Burcaw sheds light on what it has been like to grow up with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a deadly disease that has left him confined to a wheelchair and dependent on others "for pretty much every aspect of staying alive," due to his inability to develop and maintain muscles. Burcaw tells all including the difficulties of getting dressed, turning over at night, or relieving himself in a frank, funny, and sometimes profane manner ("It probably looks like we are filming a multi-fetish porno involving severely disabled people and urination"). His honesty, tempered by mordant humor and a defiant acceptance, is refreshing, even as he thumbs his nose at the disease that is slowly stripping him of the basics. Burcaw has blogged about his experiences and launched a nonprofit organization to spread his message of remaining "positive in the face of adversity through the use of humor," though the hard realities of the disease (the need for feeding tubes, the risk of infections) are never far from view. It's engaging, inspirational, and eye-opening. Ages 14 up.