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Dwarf: A Memoir of How One Woman Fought for a Body-and a Life-She Was Never Supposed to Have

3.4  ·  Rating Details ·  490 Ratings  ·  87 Reviews
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
Paperback, 250 pages
Published November 27th 2012 by Plume
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,807)
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Nov 23, 2012 Emily rated it it was amazing
Tiffanie DiDonato writes a memoir of her struggle to overcome the diastrophic dysplasia, a form of dwarfism, that she was born with. She endures massive amounts of pain in order to add a few inches to her frame, which might not seem like a lot, or that it was worth it, but for her it was the difference between being able to live a normal life with independence, or having to forever rely on her parents or a caregiver to help her with simple things like making a cup of coffee, getting milk out of ...more
I was so looking forward to reading this book since I'd first seen the cover and blurb on Edelweiss all those months ago. The cover looks quirky and fun, and just like DiDonato says at the beginning of the blurb, I really wanted to know firsthand what it's like to live with dwarfism. Sadly, the book just didn't deliver on any of those counts. Instead, this is one woman's story about her own life up until her very early thirties. Still, it could have been compelling, except that I just did not ca ...more
Feb 13, 2013 Terry rated it did not like it
This was very poorly written. The author is also very narcissistic; others in her life are drawn two-dimensionally. I felt no emotion from or towards her. I have no sense that she has aspirations or depth. I only finished the book because it was for book club and it is really too bad that she had no co. -author or better editing because this was likely much more harrowing and interesting than depicted.
Kath McStay
Mar 20, 2013 Kath McStay rated it really liked it
This is the flat out, honest and intimate story of the life of a woman. She is a warrior in her own right, and it kept me glued to the pages from the moment I opened the covers of the book,

Very shortly after her birth, her parents were informed, coldly and with no information that their newborn daughter suffered from a form of Dwarfism called Diastrophic Displasia. Her parents learned that is form of dwarfism causes a malformation of the joints, and cartilage. From the very earliest days surger
Dec 29, 2012 Emily rated it it was ok
It was....OK. I picked it up because I like medical memoirs since I have my own medical issues. But I didn't like the attitudes of her or her mom. I can't imagine my parents not agreeing on a treatment plan for me, and then going ahead and doing what ONE wanted, versus the other. Taking care of a kid with medical issues is an all for one and one for all deal.

I also don't know how I felt about her additional surgeries. For me, additional surgeries can't "cure" my problem. They can help, but I'm
Dec 04, 2012 Orsolya rated it liked it
Shelves: own, other, oddities, memoir
Won on Goodreads Giveaways

The average person is probably unaware that Dwarfism is a catch-all term for over 100 different versions of the condition. At least, I certainly didn’t. Suffering from Diastrophic Dysplasia (short stature, joint deformations); 31 year old Tiffanie DiDonato looks back on her life in, “Dwarf: How One Woman Fought for a Body – And a Life- She Was Never Supposed to Have”.

“Dwarf” introduces Tiffanie’s story in a very approachable and friendly manner. DiDonato’s tone is ca
Jan 30, 2014 Tima rated it liked it
A 3.5 rating, really. I almost gave it 4 stars but the writing itself was pretty blasé.

It's worth a read and tells a different side of a story, a controversial side. I have great respect for her choice and the strength it took for her to get through it.

But, I mean, the writing left a lot to be desired. And since she studied writing at Dartmouth and is currently a writer for a magazine, I'm surprised she hired a ghost writer and it *still* came out like a lazy high school essay.
Nov 21, 2014 Melissa rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoir
This book is yet another shining example of why not all autobiographies are meant to be read just as not all life stories are meant to be shared. I do not, in any way, want to take away from what this woman went through with her disability, but I found myself disliking both her and her mother with a passionate intensity.

Probably my biggest beef with Tiffanie was the way she told her life story. It almost seemed like she wanted to over emphasize how horrible her life was before her radical, and a
Apr 15, 2013 Shawna rated it liked it
A happily-ever-after type of story. The tone of it really hit me the wrong way at times. I had a moment early in the book when I piece of throw-away dialogue caught my ear the wrong way and I literally stopped and said, "She did not say that." Not something you want in a memoir. Another element of the book -- not to give too much away -- a very traumatic event, and she spends one chapter on it and moves on. I, having had a similar event happen to me, wondered why she wasn't having a little bit m ...more
Becky Sandham Mathwin
Dec 27, 2012 Becky Sandham Mathwin rated it it was ok
Ms. DiDonato was born with a form of dwarfism and underwent several bone lengthening surgeries in order to ultimately reach 4'10" in height (very short but still within the normal range of height for an adult woman). Although Ms. DiDonato's story was interesting, I couldn't really get into this book completely and ended up skimming sections. The medical component and the portion of the book that dealt with her life as a late adolescent and an adult were of interest to me but I wasn't as interest ...more
Aug 03, 2013 Ginny rated it it was amazing
I have just finished Tiffanie DiDonato's Book Dwarf a Memoir. I have to say how much I loved this book, and found a kindred spirit.

Through the difficult years of Tiffanie's surgery and lengthening; things were hard, life was hard. But, bravo to Tiff's mum to see that there is an opportunity to change Tiffanie's life for the better and she acted on it. You know, it is easy to say that this procedure sends waves through the dwarf community because of the perceived message that being small (or dwar
May 22, 2013 Carin rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, women-authors
I do adore memoirs, and as an avid watcher of "Little People, Big World" and "The Little Couple," this was a perfect diversion.

Tiffanie has a rare form of dwarfism, and doesn't realize it herself for many years, until she's in school, because her parents never bring it up. She doesn't realize all the doctor's appointments, surgeries, and the tricks she has to do around the house for things like getting a cereal bowl and turning on light switches, are unusual until after she ends up stuck in the
May 06, 2013 Sarah rated it it was ok
Shelves: adult, medical, memoir
Tiffanie was born with diastrophic dysplasia, a form of dwarfism. At an early age, her height peaked at 3 feet, 8 inches. She couldn't reach the sink without a stool. She would never be able to reach the gas pedals of a car. She couldn't even touch her own ears. Tiffanie decided to undergo a series of bone lengthening surgeries to give her more height. She spent the majority of her adolescence recovering from operations, adjusting to her braces and crutches, and being aware of her distinct physi ...more
Dec 25, 2012 Michele rated it really liked it
I read this book for fairly obvious reasons. While my daughter has gone through the limb lengthening process for different reasons, I certainly related to the process. I think Tiffanie did a fantastic job in writing this book - while the limb lengthening process was the means to the end, I think she did a great job explaining her life in between the surgeries. And I feel like for so many of the kids who go through this process, it's the years in between the surgeries that define their lives.
Apr 29, 2013 Brian rated it really liked it
I saw there were several three star reviews, and I didn't go into this book with super high hopes, however I really did enjoy reading Tiffanie's story. She was born as a dwarf, and underwent several painful surgeries in order to what every day people do: reaching and turning doorknobs, even touching her ears. I really thought it was down to earth and well written. If I personally was born as she was, I might have done the same things, because if there is a procedure to correct a physical ailment ...more
Feb 13, 2014 Rebekah rated it liked it
I found this book interesting, but also frustrating to read at the same time. I found myself feeling a lot of compassion for her father as the book went on. He seems to be the dog everyone likes to kick, and take for granted. I found her mother very harsh, unsympathetic, and at times horrifyingly caustic. I understand that facing the long term medical care needs of Tiffanie meant that a certain level of toughness was required, but her mother took things too far many times. It seemed that the mo ...more
Feb 15, 2016 Corielle rated it really liked it

"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."

That's exactly why I picked up this book -- but like DiDonato hoped, I came away with so much more. Her writing is clear and enjoyable, and she holds no punches when describing her difficult, painful journey through life.

Born with diastrophic dysplasia, a rare form of dwarfism, DiDonato
Laura Yates
Feb 19, 2015 Laura Yates rated it it was amazing
I couldn't put this book down. Intriguing. Well-written. A truly inspiring story about what one woman (and her family) endured to fight for the basic things in life that most of us completely take for granted- putting earrings in, brushing our hair, washing our hands. I commend her for her strength and tenacity to go through what she did and come out on the other side with the same sunny disposition and optimism toward life in general. It blows my mind that people can read her memoir and still f ...more
Samantha Grabelle
Sep 07, 2016 Samantha Grabelle rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-book
It was purely chronological and the pacing kept me reading to find out how everything turned out. I didn't learn about what it's like to be a dwarf like I thought I would and the blurb promised. I learned only what it is like to be Tiffanie and to hate the body you're in enough to go through excruciating pain to change it. This might sound like I now understand plastic surgery on an able-bodied person but it is more that I feel like I know a secret about disabled people - no matter how proud and ...more
Lacie Carmody
Dec 17, 2012 Lacie Carmody rated it really liked it
This is a remarkably inspiring tale of a woman's desire for independence and the lengths she was willing to go to gain it. I highly recommend this book, I rarely say this, but if I ever get the chance to meet this author it will be an honor.
Apr 14, 2016 Kelly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
By "I've read it" I mean I tried to read it and couldn't get through it, so I read the first couple of chapters and the end couple of chapters. I'm sure the author of this memoir has a wonderful story to tell, and I did flip through each chapter to look at the pictures, but I could not get past her writing style.

Her writing lacked a natural flow. I got the sense that she probably wrote good papers in school, but she didn't learn to edit and she never found a voice uniquely her own. It's too bad
Emily Sanders
May 01, 2016 Emily Sanders rated it it was amazing
Loved this book, I have read a little about dwarfism before but her memoir was amazing. The way she writes make it feel like you are right there with her as everything happens. I loved learning about limb lengthening especially since when she underwent the procedure it wasn't as common, and the length she gained is virtually unheard of. Overall her journey to independence was inspiring, to hear the struggles that she went through and continues to go through makes your heart ache. Love this autho ...more
Wendy Mcmahan
Aug 13, 2014 Wendy Mcmahan rated it really liked it
I like Little people. I know they have a tough life being so small and short. I can understand the struggles that they go thur. I am would love to make friends with little people.

This is Tiffanine's story on why she chose to have her surgeries to give her unprecedented fourteen inches of height. She wants her independence. She did good telling the story. I would have liked to see more pictures of her.

Now that's she a mother. I wonder how has her life changed. I know being a mother is wonderful
Apr 14, 2013 Jodi rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: memoirs, non-fiction
Wow! I wanted to keep reading this story about this very determined young lady! She was born with "dwarfism" and she let nothing stand in her way to achieve what she wished for herself. She let it all "hang" out there as far as her parents' sometimes rocky relationship and her gruesome surgeries to gain 14 inches in height. She said that some people criticized her for this decision but I feel it is solely hers to make. She didn't go through the surgery to feel more beautiful or not "fit in." She ...more
Apr 28, 2013 Dawn rated it it was amazing
On May 3, 2013 by Dawn

I’ve always had a mild interest in dwarfism.

OK, that kinda sounds bad, let me explain.

When I was a kid, there was a kid a few years older than me. His name was Michael, and his mom and my mom were PTA friends. I’m honestly not sure when I realized Michael was different. To me he was just Michael, the older boy who could never be bothered to talk to us kids, but had an awesome skateboard. When I grew older it actually led to an uncomfortable confrontation once, as someone to
Dec 20, 2012 Jenny rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
Taken from my blog at

I first saw this book while perusing the local Barnes & Noble and was instantly drawn to it. There's often a lot of inspiration to be found in learning about how someone has overcome struggles in their lives. I didn't realize it, but the author was on Good Morning America in 2008 discussing her experiences. (Not sure how I missed it since I have been a GMA aficionado for years). But anyway, here is the video if you're interested.

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Pam ☼Because Someone Must Be a Thorn☼ Tee
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 see
Sep 28, 2014 Ericka rated it it was amazing
Eye opening on how much we take for granted. It will have you laughing and crying. But, mostly, cheering at the end. Everyone, tall or small, will be able to relate on at least one level. At that's what really shocked me about this book--considering the title. Is that, it's not really about dwarfism. At the end, it's about fighting for what you want out of life and the lengths (pun intended) some are willing to go. It would be an honor to listen to Tiffanie speak one day.
Oct 18, 2013 Robin rated it liked it
I am terribly afraid of surgery and am intrigued by this story of a woman who willingly had several in order to change the circumstances of her life. I peeked ahead -- I know she's happy and found it worth the pain.

This was a pretty straightforward memoir about grit and determination in the face of enormous challenges. I enjoyed it. It would have been a much stronger (and to me, more interesting) book if it had included more background information about diastrophic dwarfism and greater detail an
Apr 16, 2014 Jo rated it liked it
DiDonato was born with a form of dwarfism and this is her story. She tells of growing up and her endless surgeries to add extra height to her bones. What comes through is her amazing spirit and her will to keep going no matter what. By the end of her book, she'd graduated college, married a Marine and was pregnant with her first child. Brilliant and inspiring memoir.
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