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Dwarf: A Memoir by Tiffanie DiDonato

Dwarf: A Memoir (2012)

by Tiffanie DiDonato

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
DiDonato starts out by saying she doesn't define herself by her size--that she is so much more than a "little person." And then proceeds to write an entire book that contains very little of interest apart from her size and how she "fixed" it.

I was surprised by how disturbing I found this book. I guess I was supposed to admire her, to think she was strong for getting through the horrific medical procedures (far beyond what the doctor who did the initial procedure was willing to do) that she chose to go through, but instead I just felt disgusted at what she put her body (not to mention her family and best friend who begged her not to do it) through. If only there had been any insight about the implications of the self-torture that her mother encouraged her to go through in order to be "normal," that would have redeemed the decisions made by a teenager and supported by her mother (but not her father). But sadly, the underlying message seems to be "if I hadn't done this to myself I would have been too abnormal to live a happy life."
See my full review at: http://worducopia.blogspot.com/2013/02/dwarf-tiffanie-didonato-book-review.html ( )
  Alirambles | Feb 19, 2013 |
Kudos to the designers of this book's cover. It drew me in, sparked a question in my mind so that I tracked this book down and read it.

Simplistic. Too detailed in some places, not detailed enough in others. There were parts that seemed superfluous, and sections where the drama was HIGH but the writing wasn't good enough to capture the moment, which is a darn shame because Ms. DiDonato has accomplished some simply amazing things.

As for the book in it's entirety:
For me this book seemed to fall into 3 parts. The first part was interesting, but not riveting stuff. It served it's purpose though as it formed the background for the second part which had me on the edge of my seat. This section dealt with the most difficult parts of Tiffanie's surgeries and I found it an inspiring example of human courage and strength.

This was followed, unfortunately, by a poorly crafted description of her life after The Big surgery. I found part of this so vaguely described that it wasn't 'satisfying'. While another part was so oddly personal that it bordered on creepy --to me, at least: others might find it >>>

...endearing that she went shopping with her mother for sexy outfits and that she got carried away with fantasizing about her night-to-come in the dressing room.


In the end I concluded that I like Tiffanie. That she had guts and that self-promotion was all apart of the package and that I was good with that. BUT I almost wish this book had been from her mother's perspective. For if Tiffanie was iron, her mother was steel.

Honestly, as a mother I don't know if I could have been as strong as Mrs. DiDonato. Holy cow, I can't imagine what it must take to watch your child suffer and struggle like that; and to have to tell her to "suck it up", when she must have been melting inside. Talk about tough love.

Three Stars. Amazing story that could have been better edited. ( )
1 vote PamFamilyLibrary | Jan 22, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
In Tiffanie DiDonato’s memoir Dwarf, she recounts the story of her life as a very short person living in a tall world. She describes her early challenges such as having arms so short that she can’t touch the top of her head, and how she has to use tools to do simple things that people of average height would take for granted – like turning the lights off and on.

The strength of her story is two-fold: the retelling of her long journey through bone-lengthening surgeries, and the relationships she develops along the way (both a friendship with a high school boy and then later with her future husband).

The amount of pain that she lived through during the process of lengthening her limbs was hard to comprehend. The doctors not only broke her bones and attached screws and wires to them, but the screws which stuck out of her arms and legs had to be cleaned and turned each day in order to stretch her bones and cause them to grow longer. In short it was as if she had been attached to some medieval torture contraption, but in this case it was her choice to have it implanted in her body.

Her account details the development of physical and mental strength after years of hardship and determination. It also gives light to the difference that a few inches can make in the life of someone who is very short: the difference between living independently and relying on others for life’s needs.

The only issue that I had with the book was the prologue in which the author explains the many reasons why she doesn’t label herself “dwarf” and how she has never let that term define her. I think it’s great that she didn’t allow a label to dictate her life; after all it wasn’t a term that she or her family used when she was growing up. However, she then goes on to give a definition of dwarfism, including her diagnosis with dwarfism and an official height range for dwarfism. On the one hand she states that she technically was a dwarf, but on the other that she didn’t want to be considered one. And all of this I was actually okay with – personal empowerment is a great thing. What I had an issue with was that her tone seemed very defensive and it was an odd way to start the book. I almost would have preferred it if that prologue had ended the book, because then I would have understood her journey and how she came to feel that way. It threw me a little bit and made me think twice about continuing on with her story. In the end I was glad that I had read the book though, because her perspective was unique and informative.

I consider myself to be on the shorter side (I’m 5′ 2), and there are many things that would be impossible for me to do without a stool – reaching the top shelves in any of the rooms of my house, hanging the shower curtains, etc. Yet all of this pales in comparison to the challenges that the author had, such as not being able to put her hair in a ponytail, reach the counter to make coffee, or carry her own backpack at school. Then there were people who used the label “dwarf” in a derogatory manner. Add on top of that those who thought that she shouldn’t have the bone lengthening done because it was “unnatural,” never mind that it was a process that would enable her to live independently; and it’s easier to understand where her frustrations came from.

All in all Dwarf is a story of hope: one in which the author determines to live life on her own terms and perseveres despite hardships and challenges. ( )
1 vote akreese | Jan 8, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Tiffanie wrote a delicate memoir showing years of endurance, choicesa and pain to be able to do what i know i take for granted. To just open a door, reach the sink, scratch my back....shw had to choose surgery to elongate her limbs. I am immensely amazed at her will and gratified at her success and pleased that she is now married and expecting a child. I did have trouble with her mother....I could never have pushed my child, even though she was correct and Tiffanie loves her. I guess I'm more like her father and content with what is, and not what could be. ( )
  hammockqueen | Dec 24, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I enjoyed the book. Tiffanie went through a lot with all the surgeries. I was glad when she finally found friends at college and met her husband. Congratulations on your baby boy! ( )
  dara85 | Dec 18, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0452298113, Paperback)

“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 bone-lengthening 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, and has been compared to Andrew solomon's Far From the Tree.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:34 -0400)

The author, born with diastrophic dysplasia--a very rare form of dwarfism--shares her quest to lead a normal life during which she underwent a series of radical and excruciatingly painful surgeries that, after years of grueling rehabilitation, allowed her to gain an unprecedented 14 inches.… (more)

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