Disability Studies Quarterly
Fall 2006, Volume 26, No. 4
<www.dsq-sds.org>
Copyright 2006 by the Society
for Disability Studies


BOOK & FILM REVIEWS

Krause, C.(Ed.) Between Myself and Them: Stories of Disability and Difference, Toronto: Second Story Press, 2006. 222 pages, $18.95, Can., $14.95 US Paper 1-896764-99-1.

Reviewed by: Nancy E. Hansen, University of Manitoba

Editor's Note: Included in this issue is a review of Between Myself and Them: Stories of Life with Disability. We published another review of this same book in the spring issue. Unbeknownst to us at the time, we had inadvertently solicited two reviews of the same book . After reviewing both essays, we felt that the two reviews offered distinct perspectives on the book and that readers would benefit from reading them both. In addition to offering a thoughtful and engaging review of the book, Dr. Hansen offers useful suggestions regarding audiences that might gain the most from reading this book, which we felt would be of particular interest to DSQ readers.

Disability Studies is a new and emerging discipline and because of this, much of the material with which the foundations have been built has come directly from the disability community itself. A great deal of information is provided through first-person accounts of disability and impairment. Between Myself and Them: Stories of Disability and Difference is a reflection of this tradition. This book represents the experience of disability from the perspective of law student Carol Krause and her compatriots. It is not an academic volume, and it is not presented or intended as such.

In this varied anthology, Editor Carol Krause brings together 23 stories of young adults and their understanding of disability, impairment and difference. The declared purpose of the volume is to promote understanding and build connections between people. Many of the individuals are at or writing about turning points in their lives. The narratives are often raw, simple and poignant providing an abbreviated snapshot of individual experience. Stories are told by people with disabilities, their families, friends, siblings and supporters. The stories reflect gender, sexual and cultural diversity.

The book is comprised of four sections which include: Identity, Work and School, Community and Living. The Identity section explores personhood, difference, sexuality and the body. Work and School looks at the delicate balance of accommodation and communication within these environments. The Community section focuses on various elements of family, relationships and belonging; Finally, the section on Living addresses a number of diverse topic areas including health, emotions and ways of being.

There are several gaps and weaknesses in Between Myself and Them: Stories of Disability and Difference. Limited theoretical depth or analysis is presented in this book. Provision of this type of marker point would have been very helpful to the reader. There is little, if any, context afforded within the volume. What is the thread other than disability or difference that draws these individuals together? How were their stories chosen to be a part of this book? The richness, complexity and intensity that are often present in this style of writing are largely absent here. What remains is a surface rendering of complex lives and experience. At times, Carol Krause's editing style and perspective work to obscure the voice and views presented leaving one to wonder whose voice is actually being heard.

This volume does not have the required theoretical or analytical complexity necessary for a college or university program in disability studies or related disciplines. However, this book could address an oft-overlooked gap within the school curriculum. It would be a good supplement to a social studies course or module at the secondary school level looking at disability, impairment or difference for the first time. The uncomplicated writing style coupled with brief chapter lengths is an ideal combination for this age range. The book provides a glimpse of the various realities of the experience of disability, impairment and difference in a most approachable manner.





Copyright (c) 2006 Nancy E. Hansen



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ISSN: 2159-8371