Enabled: One Disabled Woman's Incredible Story of Tackling Her Disability in Pursuit of a Lifelong Dream by Ruth Merry and Steve Emecz

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Enabled: One Disabled Woman's Incredible Story of Tackling Her Disability in Pursuit of a Lifelong Dream by Ruth Merry and Steve Emecz

Category: Autobiography
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A brief look at the efforts of a disabled sportswoman to get downhill in a bobsleigh. Not the world's best-produced article, but eye-opening and educational, and the spirit of the protagonists cannot be ignored.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 96 Date: March 2008
Publisher: MX Publishing
ISBN: 978-1904312321

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Ruth Merry has never been your common-or-garden young lady. Born with no ability to move her legs, and more, due to a condition called arthrogryposis, she still became an avid equestrian, downhill skier, competitive swimmer, fund-raiser and more. At the beginning of this book a flippant comment inspires another, future dream - that of going down in a four-man bobsleigh.

And so her colleague, and co-author here, Steve, conspire to get her to Innsbruck, and down their bobtrack. And in a world where it takes ages, agony and awkwardness galore to get her into an airplane seat - if the companies involved have not thought things through - this will not be easy.

The book is a diary testimony, shared between the two - although the split is mostly in favour of Steve, who looks on his close friend with fondness, delight and sheer adoration at her chutzpah. Ruth has the cutest personality, and whoever writes, it comes across well. But this is not the sports memoir it might appear - the travel reportage side is the main body, and here the book will serve as a valid and valued eye-opener to the able-bodied. Dumped by her council in an adapted house at the wrong end of a steep hill, Ruth has to make plans around just getting out the house in winter in case she's snowed in and can't make the flight. Car lifts have to be geared around her wheelchair and their luggage. Airports, airplanes, airport loos, and the kitchens of Austrian cigar cafes, all come into consideration.

There is another sense that the reader is being slightly mis-guided. I daren't say why, but the bob run is a failure - for Ruth herself. So the book switches to another effort to get her back to the speed she used to experience skiing. It's a switch that didn't worry me, but the blurb was leading me to expect a success on the ice, although, warmingly, there is a different success by the end.

The writing isn't the most crafted reportage. We get photos galore, and we're always there with the pain, the humour and the cold, but a different approach would have offered us more autobiography, and background in her career. And the proofreading is a complete failure in places - missing question marks, something is not a path on something else, and more. Ruth and Steve are bright sparks, and while this book is merely a window into their world - and in a postscript another hyperactive disabled star - the window didn't need to have been so smeared.

With a greater editorial effort - simple things like acknowledging the ten-month gap in the narrative better - this could have been the ice-smooth little volume the stars of it deserved. It's an unusual melange of society reporting from the wheelchair-eye view (a view, whether Ruth likes it or not, in line with hunky guy's backsides), sport biography and travel reportage, but it's a friendly little volume that will makes us pause.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

For more about someone who has triumphed over adversity you might appreciate Another Alice by Alice Peterson.

Buy Enabled: One Disabled Woman's Incredible Story of Tackling Her Disability in Pursuit of a Lifelong Dream by Ruth Merry and Steve Emecz at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Enabled: One Disabled Woman's Incredible Story of Tackling Her Disability in Pursuit of a Lifelong Dream by Ruth Merry and Steve Emecz at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Enabled: One Disabled Woman's Incredible Story of Tackling Her Disability in Pursuit of a Lifelong Dream by Ruth Merry and Steve Emecz at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Enabled: One Disabled Woman's Incredible Story of Tackling Her Disability in Pursuit of a Lifelong Dream by Ruth Merry and Steve Emecz at Amazon.com.


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