Wistful and full of longing, Clare unflinchingly addresses the contradictions of this human incarnation. She grew up in a village of loggers who cut down the forests they know and love better than any urban environmentalists do. She is indebted to her father for teaching her masculinity and construction skill, yet he also ... her repeatedly. She loves to hike and build, even as she does not want to attempt to transcend her disability and try to be something she's not. She is an eloquent writer, flipping off a childhood misdiagnosis of mental ... . She moved away to find ... community in the city and discovered that, while urban liberals talk the talk, ... often find more real acceptance in cozy rural towns. She does not know if she is man or woman. She wants to love her body but does not know how to begin.
Clare's anecdotes and theories are rather loosely connected. To bring it together, I thought this book asked the question between the lines, "How can we save what we love?" Part of Clare's answer is that we must begin by being honest about what we love and what we hate, and about how we sometimes love and hate the same thing (for example, pornographic images of a paraplegic woman, finally represented as attractive, but only because she fits the paradigm of a white, blonde sex object). Another part of her answer is that we must begin to love the only body we will ever have: our raped, transgendered, disabled, strong, anxious, and proud bodies.
This was the first book on disability theory I have ever read, and it made me want to read more. I liked how Clare worked with with another theorists' idea that "impairment" refers to physical limitation, while "disability" is caused by society's rejection, ignorance, and discrimination against people with physical impairments. She did a good job of illustrating the difference in her own life. Impairment is why she cannot reach the summit of most mountains; disability is why people stare at her in the grocery store. Her unquenchable desire to reconnect with the sensuality, love, and lust that is her birthright inspires me to work on reconnecting with my sexuality as well.