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Golem Girl: A Memoir
by Riva Lehrer
Published by One World
9.6"x6.5", 448p, color illustrations throughout
The vividly told, gloriously illustrated memoir of an artist born with disabilities who searches for freedom and connection in a society afraid of strange bodies. What do we sacrifice in the pursuit of normalcy? And what becomes possible when we embrace monstrosity? In 1958, Riva is one of the first children born with spina bifida to survive. Her parents and doctors are determined to “fix” her, sending the message over and over again that she is broken. That she will never have a job, a romantic relationship, or an independent life. Enduring countless medical interventions, Riva tries her best to be a good girl and a good patient in the quest to be cured. Everything changes when, as an adult, Riva is invited to join a group of artists, writers, and performers who are building Disability Culture. Their work is daring, edgy, funny, and dark; it rejects tropes that define disabled people as pathetic, frightening, or worthless. They insist that disability is an opportunity for creativity and resistance. Emboldened, Riva asks if she can paint their portraits -- an intimate and collaborative process that will transform the way she sees herself, others, and the world. With each portrait, and each person’s story, the myths she’s been told her whole life -- about her body, her sexuality, and the value of normalcy -- begin to crumble. Written with the vivid, cinematic prose of a visual artist, and the love and playfulness that defines all of Riva’s work, Golem Girl is an extraordinary story of survival and creativity. With the author’s magnificent portraits featured throughout, this memoir invites us to stretch ourselves toward a world where bodies flow between all possible forms of what it is to be human.
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