Dwarf: A Memoir by Tiffanie DiDonato

Title: Dwarf
Author: Tiffanie DiDonato
Publish Date: November 27th, 2012
Publisher: Plume
ISBN: 978-0452298118
Pages: 272

Dwarf  Book Summary

It’s okay with me if you picked up this book because you’re curious about what it’s like to live with dwarfism. But I hope that you’ll take away much more—about adapting to the world when it won’t adapt to you.”—from Dwarf

A memoir of grit and transformation for anyone who has been told something was impossible and then went on to do it anyway.

Tiffanie DiDonato was born with dwarfism. Her limbs were so short that she was not able to reach her own ears. She was also born with a serious case of optimism. She decided to undergo a series of painful surgeries that gave her an unprecedented 14 inches of height—and the independence she never thought she’d have.

After her surgeries, Tiffanie was able to learn to drive, to live in the dorms during college, and to lead a normal life. She even made time to volunteer, writing to troops stationed abroad, and one of those Marine pen pals ultimately became her husband.

Dwarf is a moving and at times funny testament to the power of sheer determination.

My Dwarf: A Memoir Book Review

When I first saw Dwarf: A Memoir by Tiffanie DiDonato, I had to read it. I really wanted to know about the struggles of someone who was, well,  little. Not only am I just naturally curious, but my little one has her own height struggles as well. When watching anything on Dwarfism, it always paints those affected with this condition to be happy and go-lucky and at peace with their bodies. In fact, many have said that they wouldn’t have it any other way.
dwarf-coverBut, is that the truth?

Tiffanie DiDonato was born with a rare form of Dwarfism called Diastrophic Dysplasia. It means she had a normal size head and torso, except her limbs were exceptionally short. This is a genetic disorder of the cartilage and bone development.

When Tiffanie was born, her parents had no idea that she would be born with diastrophic dysplasia. Her birth would be an event that would tear her family apart, at least for a little while. Her father was unable to cope with the idea that his daughter had special needs and he bolted.

The thing is, Tiffanie seems so nonchalant about her father leaving because she had dwarfism. I know it’s not an event she would remember, but she knows. Doesn’t it make her the least bit upset, just knowing this bit of information? I know that if I had learned that my father had left me (and my mother) at birth because I had somehow unintentionally disappointed him by being the way I was, there is no amount of making up for it to dilute my sense of anger in recalling that time in my life; at least, for my Mother.

It was like, “Oh, yeah. Dad didn’t like the fact I was born with dwarfism so he bolted. No worries because he came back and all was well — mostly.” (I am over-exaggerating.) I just. I guess I don’t get that. I know as parents we all do things that we are ashamed of, but leaving your child is a pretty big deal and nothing that should be passed off in such a way that its made to seem like it happens all the time. Or does it?

Another thing that kind of removed me from the book (although an easy read) was that I find it hard to believe that someone would remember such detail of their life at 2, 3, 4, etc. When she was recalling an experience when she was a toddler, riding her tricycle in the grocery store – she wrote it with such clarity it was as if she made it up. Do you remember conversation(s) in detail when you were little? I don’t, and I have a pretty good memory of my own life. She recalls conversations with her mother at such an early age, but I could only imagine that was something her Mother, in fact, told her — and it really painted her Mother into being this sort of overly angelic, all too cheesy, overly self-sacrificing person. Did her Mother do no wrong? Feel no sadness or anger about anything? I just didn’t know and that bothered me.

I think, what would have made a bigger impression on me, was her parents writing the beginning of her book. Like an introduction, you know? It would make sense for her parents to have vivid memories of things that have happened that that age, but doesn’t make much since for her to write it as if she remembers it so clearly.

Plus, there are so many questions that I have about her parents. Why exactly did her Mom join the Air Force, leaving Tiffanie and her ex-husband behind? (At the time, they were ‘together’ but did not remarry.) Plus, how on Earth did she get out of the Air Force early without completing her required time? Also, didn’t it anger her that her Father chose to stay with his other son from his first wife, rather then be together with the woman he was supposedly in love with (still), and his daughter? Wouldn’t that cause insecurities?

I am just confused.

I got confused a lot, honestly. This is why I think co-writing with her parents would have added more clarity to so many questions that I now have. It would have added a family dynamic to the story, and I think it would have been easier to see more personality within the memoir. I felt the writing to be rather simplistic, although interesting, and at many times — cheesy.

It’s not to say that it’s not a moving book. It kept my interest and I enjoyed learning about what went on in her head. Unfortunately my digital advanced reader’s copy expired prior to me finishing the book. So, I only got about 70 pages in. It wasn’t enough to get into her adulthood, so I feel like I am missing a huge chunk. Do all my questions get answered? I don’t know. I hope!

So while this isn’t a book that I would buy, simply based on the simplistic writing and awkward dialogue and pacing, it is definitely a book that I would borrow at the library so I could finish reading about her life because I do find her rather fascinating.

PAGECHECK

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3 Comments

  1. Kimberly says

    I lost myself in this book… Really. it reminded me my little sister in many ways…

  2. Jessica says

    What a great cover! It’s so ‘screaming’ in some way. Really attracts one attention to the contents.

  3. Philippini says

    I just finished this one, and I had a lot of the same questions you did. My biggest, though, was how much those procedure cost. She never talked about the price of things. It bugged me how when she got in a “fender bender” her parents just bought her a new BMW. I wish mine would have done that! I wish this book was better. Tiffanie got on my last nerve.

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