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Strangers Assume My Girlfriend Is My Nurse

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With his signature acerbic wit and hilarious voice, twenty-something author, blogger, and entrepreneur Shane Burcaw is back with an essay collection about living a full life in a body that many people perceive as a tragedy. From anecdotes about first introductions where people patted him on the head instead of shaking his hand, to stories of passersby mistaking his able-bodied girlfriend for a nurse, Shane tackles awkward situations and assumptions with humor and grace.

On the surface, these essays are about day-to-day life as a wheelchair user with a degenerative disease, but they are actually about family, love, and coming of age.

208 pages

First published April 30, 2019

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About the author

Shane Burcaw

4 books453 followers
Shane Burcaw grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and graduated from Moravian College with an English degree. He is the author of several award-winning books about disability. He is the President of a nonprofit organization called Laughing At My Nightmare, Inc. and a renowned public speaker who has performed across the country from universities to elementary schools to Fortune 500 companies. On his YouTube channel, Squirmy and Grubs, which has gained 1,000,000+ subscribers and worldwide media attention, he and his wife, Hannah, share a hilarious and authentic examination of what it’s like to be in an interabled relationship. They live in Minneapolis, MN with their fluffy labradoodle, Chloe.

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5 stars
1,056 (50%)
4 stars
758 (36%)
3 stars
240 (11%)
2 stars
27 (1%)
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5 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 265 reviews
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
916 reviews13.9k followers
May 14, 2019
Thanks to Roaring Book Press for the free review copy!

I enjoyed this book a lot more than Shane's first one! This collection really delves into his experience with SMA and how his perception of himself has shifted from being a burden to being a boyfriend and someone who is loved. Whereas his first book was really self-centered and had the tendency to look down on other people with disabilities in order to exalt his own experience, this one had a lot of great anecdotes that were then connected to the entire disabled communities and the ways that they still experience injustice and judgment. In that way, I think this book is equal parts humorous memoir but also a great educational resource.

Even if you don't watch Shane's youtube, this book is quick, fun, and informative enough to be worth the read and you should totally give it a try if you want to read more ownvoices books about disability, specifically SMA or being in a wheelchair.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Sagan.
236 reviews2,086 followers
May 2, 2019
Absolutely lovely!

I discovered Shane and Hannah not long ago when I stumbled upon their Youtube channel (Squirmy and Grubs and if you haven't checked it out oh my God please do) and I fell in love with their spirit. When I heard about SAMGIMN I knew I had to have it (as well as Laughing at My Nightmare, Shane's previous book).

It's a very short read, I finished the whole thing in less than a day. It was funny and inspiring (sorry for using the word "inspiring", I know Shane doesn't quite like it) and most important, educative. You get answers to some of the question you might have about Shane, while learning more about SMA.
Profile Image for Chris.
226 reviews56 followers
November 10, 2020
Strangers Assume My Girlfriend Is My Nurse by Shane Burcaw is a series of essays detailing his life with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. In this collection he talks of how the general public treat him because of his disability, the amount of daily care he needs, his feelings about his disability along with how he copes, and his Hope's and fears.

This collection is a mix of hilarious, frustrating, anger inducing, sad, and hopeful. The author makes you feel as though your sitting at your favorite coffeeshop and he's telling you these stories over a good latte. As someone who uses a wheelchair full time, there was a lot in here that is relatable, whether its stories about accessibility or the issues with your significant other being your caregiver. Whether you have a disability or not, this is very much worth reading!
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 7 books1,211 followers
September 30, 2018
Brilliant, hilarious, and insightful essays on living with a disability. Shane's voice is a riot and made me laugh out loud numerous times. It's so nice to see more YA essay collections, and this one will appeal to so, so many readers.
Profile Image for Sarah Kershaw.
118 reviews
November 25, 2018
A must read for everyone!

I was blown away by the stories Shane tells of what it’s like living with spinal muscular atrophy. And honestly not just what it’s like living with SMA but what it means to truly LIVE.

This book zeroes in on many stigmas people with disabilities deal with and Shane brings such amazing, funny and heartfelt storytelling to these true life stories he shares. From what it’s like eating out, strangers approaching you on the street, difficulties using the bathroom, you’ll learn so much and have fun along the way.

Shane helps us see that we are more than what others decide we are.

This is a fun, quick and fabulous book I hope everyone reads! Shane’s voice is one that needs to be heard.

Profile Image for Carly Findlay.
Author 5 books452 followers
July 20, 2019
I have been following Shane Burcaw on Instagram for a few years and was excited to see he has a new book out – Strangers Assume My Girlfriend is my Nurse. I flew through the book on the plane (excuse the pun!) – it was so easily readable, and relateable. I am loving #OwnVoices Books!

Shane has a blog, he and his fiancé Hannah Aylward have a YouTube channel – Squirmy and Grubs – and their respective Instagram accounts are wonderful. This book is a wonderful extension of Shane’s online presence. Strangers Think My Girlfriend is My Nurse is Shane’s third book.

He writes about his body and the barriers he experiences in a self deprecating way, but never with internalised ableism. The book is very, very funny. Shane is a great writer – thoughtful and able to articulate the universal feelings of being disabled well.

Shane’s impairment as well as his access and care needs are vastly different to mine, but I related so much to his experiences of low expectations, curiosity and sheer rudeness of others. He too has experienced exclusion and bullying, prayers from strangers, and the assumption that his life is terrible because of his visible difference.

Shane does a great job of explaining systemic barriers he and other disabled people experience – like the airline industry’s inability to accomodate disabled passengers well, and of course, the low expectations from services such as restaurants (he still gets children’s menus!).

Strangers Assume My Girlfriend is my Nurse extensively covers his relationship with Hannah Aylward, who is non disabled - his carer and his lover.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s activism, but not angry activism. It makes learning about ableism accessible to non disabled people. It models great behaviour. I laughed a lot, admired the writing, and empathised with Shane’s exhaustion at others’ reactions to his body. I think it is especially a great book for young Disabled men to see themselves and know what’s possible for them (travel, a career, romance, pride in self), and also for parents of disabled kids and adults. Thank you, Shane – and Hannah too.

Read the full review on my blog http://carlyfindlay.com.au/2019/07/20...
Profile Image for kayla (kitay’s version).
280 reviews134 followers
December 6, 2019
I absolutely love Shane and Hannah (aka Squirmy and Grubs on YouTube) so I've dying to read this book along with Laughing at My Nightmare. Not only was this book a fast read but it was hilarious and inappropriate which is on par with Shane's dark humor. I highly recommend this book to people who like Squirmy and Grubs or those who want to learn more about SMA. Not only does it take about his experience with it but he also touches on things like everyone can relate to (the awkward teenage years, love, adulthood, etc.) which was nice. Also someone who does have a disability (not SMA) could relate to the things he talked about, which is also nice. Anyways, go check out this book and Squirmy and Grubs on YouTube. Also his nonprofit Laughing at My Own Nightmare!
Profile Image for Tracy.
1,883 reviews32 followers
September 8, 2018
This is WOW insightful. I'm glad Shane included some of his own perceptions/misperceptions. I can certainly see where if I were in his situation, I might not be very open minded myself. Best of luck to you and Hannah, Shane!
Profile Image for Shelley Pearson.
Author 1 book18 followers
September 26, 2019
This was funny and interesting and seemed really honest. I liked the juxtaposition of humor (lots of dick jokes) with really personal, vulnerable writing. I especially liked the points he made about people treating him like he's sad or like his life must be sad, when he didn't think that. This didn't feel like a political book, so I think it's a really accessible introduction to ableism. And the funny stuff makes the deeper stuff kind of sneak in.
Profile Image for Cai Hopkins.
34 reviews
January 30, 2021
3.5 stars. I enjoy Shane and Hannah’s YouTube channel- their discussions on ableism, and their emphasis on educating others about interabled relationships. I knew I needed to read this book, and I finished it in 3 days! Shane’s humor in this book (which at times can feel a little forced) had me chuckling throughout. This book is an easy, fun read, while also discussing important messages about disability and the need for love, acceptance, and access.
Profile Image for Gail Amendt.
639 reviews24 followers
September 28, 2022
I love Shane and his now wife Hannah's YouTube channel under the name Squirmy and Grubs. They are such a wonderful couple, who show that disabled and non-disabled people can have very healthy and normal romantic relationships. Shane, who suffers from Spinal Muscular Atrophy, is hilarious, as he has developed a very dry and sarcastic sense of humor as a way of dealing with his disability. This book is a series of essays that show how he has grown into the person he is today, who doesn't see his disability as an obstacle to leading a very full life. It's only a short book, but by the end you will be very closely acquainted with Shane's bathroom habits, his sex life, his worst fears, and his hopes and dreams. I believe he and Hannah are now writing a book together, and I can't wait to read it. And if you've never watched Squirmy and Grubs, just do it!!
76 reviews
October 14, 2021
My sister recommended this book and I had seen a video of Shane and Hannah online so I was interested to learn more about their relationship and Shane’s life in general. The book was a very quick but thought-provoking read. Shane’s descriptions of how his relationship to his disability has changed over his life course are extremely candid, insightful, and valuable. The examples he uses are thoughtfully chosen for comedic, intellectual, and emotional value. Some of my favorites included the Reddit story about his funny post being labelled as “too sad”, his trip to NYC with a malfunctioning power chair, and his complicated relationship to getting access to a “cure.” I am so glad this book exists- Shane’s openness, humor, and commitment to helping others should receive every possible platform.
Profile Image for Gabie (OwlEyesReviews).
1,024 reviews37 followers
August 4, 2020
4.5/5 stars.

I've really been doing my best to recognize the places in which I have privilege and listen to those who may not have the privileges that I do. I recognized that I really had not read much on people with differing abilities, so I've been looking for stories written by and about people with different abilities than my own. Not because I believe that each person that I read a story about has the responsibility to speak for their whole community, but because I want to hear people's individual stories. I want to listen to the stories that each person shares detailing their own personal story living their life that way that they do, which is different than how I do.

I've watched many youtube videos and small documentaries about Shane Burcaw, so when I was recommended this book, I knew that I was going to enjoy it. I did not expect it to be as hilarious as it was! I constantly found myself cackling at Shanes wit. This book definitely was a window in that window, mirror, or sliding glass door scenario. It was funny while also allowing those who do not live Shane's life into some of the truly unfair things that he has to endure because our world is not created with those who are differently-abled in mind. Shane is an extremely charming person who has graced us with his story. He did not have to let us into his world and explain how things are different for him. However, he did, and I am so grateful. As a person who is learning to use my privilege that I have to benefit those who may not have the privileges that I have. I'm learning and growing every day. Thank you Shane for helping me in my journey, it's not your job to educate me, but I genuinely am grateful to have had a little peek into your story and daily life :)

It's definitely one I will be recommending for a while.
Profile Image for Kaitlyn Curry.
6 reviews
September 30, 2019
I loved this book. I have read Shane's other two books before (Laughing at my Nightmare and Not so Different) and this one was exactly as amazing. Shane has been an idol to my family ever since my cousin got diagnosed with SMA, which is the same disease Shane has. This book touches on almost all aspects of living with SMA. Shane has gotten told before that God had a plan for him and it would be ok, even though Shane never has thought about his disease as being much of a strain on his life. Shane even has a company called Laughing at my Nightmare inc. I have met Shane once before and it was amazing. He came to the school and read Not so Different to the Elementary kids, but me, my sister, and his two brothers got let out of class to come listen. Shane and Maxon hung out and got to race and play soccer and a bunch 0f other cool things. Once they were done playing a lot of the adults had gathered around Shane and were talking, so I went over to them and joined the conversation. I don't think Shane remembers me at all but that was probably the coolest day of my life so far. Overall I love Shane and his book and the overall impact he has made on my family.
Profile Image for Abby Goldsmith.
Author 12 books95 followers
May 12, 2021
Shane Burcaw is awesome. He has a really relatable, minimalist way of getting right to a point, and driving it home, that is instantly engaging.

This book was research for me. I'm finishing up a 7 book sci-fi series where one of the main heroes has an aggressive variant of spinal muscular atrophy. It's ludicrous that I (an able-bodied person) chose to write 7 books involving a character whose lifestyle and social obstacles are way outside my wheelhouse. When I started the Torth series, I never imagined the research rabbit hole I would go into. But I like to challenge myself. There is always more to learn about physical disabilities and the particularities of how everything works.

I highly recommend this book--and Laughing At My Nightmare--especially to *anyone* who wants to research a physically disabled character. Even if you think you know enough, you don't. This book gets right up close and personal with issues that mass media doesn't really touch.
Profile Image for B220.
329 reviews1 follower
February 2, 2019
In a follow up to his initial memoir, Laught at my Nightmare, Shane Burcaw brings readers up to date with where he is now and how his outlook on life has changed over the years. Living with a degenerative muscular disease brings many struggles, but through a dark, sarcastic humor Shane has learned to love life, love living, and he has truly grown into a successful (and inspirational) not-for-profit organizer.

Through a series of essays, readers experience a glimpse of Shane's struggles, successes, embarrassments, and loves. He provides a spectacularly positive outlook on life that will make readers appreciate their own lives more and look at people with disabilities more fairly and empathetically.

I was excited when I saw this book was coming out. Thank you to NetGalley and MacMillan Children's Publishing Group for the ARC!
Profile Image for Alisha Taylor &#x1f48b;.
356 reviews2 followers
May 1, 2019
I feel like Ive been waiting ages for this book it was well worth it. I absolutely loved it! So much so, I read it in one sitting! I first read something by Shane late last year and automatically loved his story telling because I was able to relate to so many of the stories he told living with his disability, and could relate a great deal relating to my own disability soon after I randomly came across Squirmy and Grubs and have loved following Shane and Hannah's journey ever since! Like his other books I was able to relate greatly to so many of shane's stories, interactions, feelings and thoughts. so when I first learned he was releasing SAMGIMN I just knew I had to read it. The way Shane shares his stories about interactions, questions and his undying adoration and love for Hannah was truly a great thing to read and gives me hope that I may find my own Squirmy one day!
Profile Image for May.
300 reviews3 followers
July 9, 2019
I love Shane's sense of humor! This is a quick-paced book filled with anecdotes about his life that are funny, heart-warming, and at times utterly frustrating: if you're able-bodied, you don't know the struggles of flying with a wheelchair, and reading that chapter will (should!) fill you with frustration and indignation on behalf of anyone who does. Shane doesn't sugar-coat things, but he also doesn't focus on the struggles. There's a note of humor and hope in all his stories. And reading the bits about his relationship with Hannah was probably my favorite part. His love for her shines through very clearly in his writing!
Profile Image for Poki.
100 reviews1 follower
June 22, 2022
Absolutely insane how much I relate to most aspects of this book
Profile Image for Danny.
375 reviews3 followers
September 26, 2022
Really enjoyed this one too! I thought there would be a bit more about Shane and Hannah and was kind of hoping that would be the case because I really have enjoyed seeing their relationship. It picks up in a similar fashion as the one prior with some updated stories and clearly a world lense of someone who is no longer 21. I appreciated seeing the growth in how Shane spoke about his experiences verses others and his willingness to talk about the underlying fear/situation that most folks with a disability have which is if there is even a potential for a cure how disappointing folks appear when that doesn't manifest. I appreciated the concept that folks with disabilities are not living sad lives and often times have made awesome adaptations that work out just fine. And it's hard not to pick up on folks hopes that you will be "normal" if/when a treatment of cure becomes available.
Profile Image for Jessie.
265 reviews5 followers
September 12, 2020
Being a big fan of Shane and Hannah's youtube channel meant that I didn't have any excuses to not buy this book when it went on sale on Audible. It was everything I thought it would be: fun and eye-opening. Seeing the other side of the mirror is one of my favorite aspect of this book. I utterly respect Shane for being able to share all these little details -good and bad- of his life. He shows how you can enjoyed life at it fullest and being excited for the future despite everything that gets in your way.

And, if I may add, the choice of narrator was perfect. Maybe is just me, but I find that Kirby Heyborne's voice is similar to Shane's.
Profile Image for Rebecca L..
Author 4 books42 followers
May 8, 2019
I eagerly awaited the release of this book and I wasn’t disappointed. Burcaw has a great message and he has greatly matured since his first book was released. I’m rooting for him and Hannah and I’m so glad they are providing a strong voice within the disability community. Shane’s sometimes crude language and coarse sense of humor can even be a positive thing because his writing style may attract reluctant readers. I read this entire book in two days.
Profile Image for Helen.
438 reviews9 followers
January 19, 2020
I’ve been following Shane on IG when one of his videos popped up on the Popular page. This memoir only reinforces why he has such a following. He’s brutally honest and funny.

Much has been made about his inter-abled relationship - hence the book title. This memoir provides readers with increased insight and empathy without cloying sympathy.
Profile Image for Emilyreadsbooks.
60 reviews1 follower
August 29, 2020
I love Shane and Hannah from watching their YouTube channel. So naturally a deeper dive into Shane’s perspective was a wonderful journey. Plus, honestly, the swearing was refreshing. Anyway, I think it’s be neat for his next book to be half his stories/voice and half Hannah’s.
Profile Image for Carolann.
123 reviews20 followers
January 26, 2023
I'm a huge fan of Shane and Hannah and I've been following them online for years. The short essays felt disjointed and Shane shares so much online that I thought the book would go deeprler. I guess I was just expecting a lot more out of this book since I'm such a huge fan of him.
Profile Image for Jessica Cruz.
3 reviews2 followers
August 1, 2019
This book was so funny. I enjoyed everything about it. I read this book in 2 days. I love Shane sense of humor. You learn a bit more about Shane and Hanna.
February 24, 2020
I read this book before Shane's first book. Loved it so much I subscribed to their channel and went on a "Squirmy and Grub" binge watch. Fan of their relationship and candid sharing.
Profile Image for Kait Vanderlaan.
497 reviews10 followers
June 27, 2019
Shane Burcaw, a young adult with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, shares personal stories about living with a disability. Shane infuses humor into his stories and discusses the importance of laughing at situations that don’t go as planned. Each chapter is brief and there isn’t always a flow to the book as a whole, but it’s a quick read. It offers insights, normalization, and education from personal experience on using a wheelchair and SMA. I found it both funny and eye opening.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 265 reviews

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