"This autobiography by a millennial Helen Keller teems with grace and grit." -- O Magazine
"A profoundly important memoir." -- The Times
** As featured in The Wall Street Journal, People, and on The TODAY Show ** A New York Times "New & Noteworthy" Pick ** An O Magazine "Book of the Month" Pick ** A Publishers Weekly Bestseller **
The incredible life story of Haben Girma, the first Deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School, and her amazing journey from isolation to the world stage.
Haben grew up spending summers with her family in the enchanting Eritrean city of Asmara. There, she discovered courage as she faced off against a bull she couldn't see, and found in herself an abiding strength as she absorbed her parents' harrowing experiences during Eritrea's thirty-year war with Ethiopia. Their refugee story inspired her to embark on a quest for knowledge, traveling the world in search of the secret to belonging. She explored numerous fascinating places, including Mali, where she helped build a school under the scorching Saharan sun. Her many adventures over the years range from the hair-raising to the hilarious.
Haben defines disability as an opportunity for innovation. She learned non-visual techniques for everything from dancing salsa to handling an electric saw. She developed a text-to-braille communication system that created an exciting new way to connect with people. Haben pioneered her way through obstacles, graduated from Harvard Law, and now uses her talents to advocate for people with disabilities.
HABEN takes readers through a thrilling game of blind hide-and-seek in Louisiana, a treacherous climb up an iceberg in Alaska, and a magical moment with President Obama at The White House. Warm, funny, thoughtful, and uplifting, this captivating memoir is a testament to one woman's determination to find the keys to connection.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This inspiring memoir reminded us that there’s no such thing as can’t. Eritrean-born author Haben Girma’s hearing and vision are impaired—and progressively worsening—but that hardly slows this real-life hero down. Girma has overcome her family’s fears for her safety, accomplished huge academic feats—she’s the first deaf-blind graduate of Harvard Law School—and modelled perseverance, confidence, and independence in a world that gives her very little support. In puzzling out solutions to innumerable problems, Girma has forged her own path, becoming a disability rights advocate who lights the way for many.
With wit and passion, Haben, a disability rights lawyer, public speaker, and the first deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law, takes readers through her often unaccommodating world. Born in the Bay Area in 1988, Haben spent summers in her family's homeland of Eritrea, in the capital Asmara, where her deafblind older brother hadn't been allowed to attend school. While living in the U.S. afforded her more opportunity, she missed out on assignments, jokes, and life's nuances: "It's a sighted hearing classroom, in a sighted hearing school, in a sighted hearing society. In this environment, I'm disabled." At a young age, Haben vowed to change that environment and pushed beyond her own comfort zones: dancing salsa, helping build a school in Mali, and climbing an iceberg. At Lewis & Clark College she advocated for a braille cafeteria menu; at Harvard Law, she developed a text-to-braille system, which allowed a second party to communicate details to her during classes, in court, and at a White House Americans with Disabilities Act celebration, where as guest speaker she was "starstruck around all these heroes who paved the way for Generation ADA." This is a heartwarming memoir of a woman who champions access and dignity for all.