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The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, Disability, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love With Me

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  411 ratings  ·  101 reviews
From the disability rights advocate and creator of the #DisabledAndCute viral campaign, a thoughtful, inspiring, and charming collection of essays exploring what it means to be black and disabled in a mostly able-bodied white America.

Keah Brown loves herself, but that hadn’t always been the case. Born with cerebral palsy, her greatest desire used to be normalcy and refuge
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 6th 2019 by Atria Books
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 ·  411 ratings  ·  101 reviews

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May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
What does it mean to live at the intersections of blackness, womanhood, and disability? In her admirable debut, The Pretty One, Keah Brown answers this question with heart, charm, and humor. Across twelve finely crafted essays, Brown explores the matter of representation in popular culture, the vulnerability of facing self-loathing and learning to love herself, the challenge of repairing fractured relationships with family, the yearning for romantic love. Through her words we see that Brown is n ...more
In disability and race activism there is a very important place for rage. Keah Brown shows us that there is also a place for youth and playfulness. Brown is as clear-eyed about the nuances of many-fronted discrimination as any disability/race/gender intersectional activist. She is also aware of the injuries her life has inflicted on herself and her relationships. But she makes the political choice to tackle this pain and ugliness with cuteness. With her smile, her youth, her #disabledandcute has ...more
A really powerful and moving essay collection about being disabled, about being black and disabled and being invisible in and to the world around you, and about learning to fall in love with yourself. Keah's voice is really great and she's wildly vulnerable. She also invites you, as reader, to be vulnerable with her.

Finding essay collections about disability -- and writing about it more broadly -- from the voice of a person of color is so rare. This book is a necessary one, as much as it's a tr
Lemme just...
This is going to be a life-changing book for some people. There are those who need to hear what Keah Brown has to say. I imagine those people are or have recently been young, unsure of themselves, and they don't like their bodies and/or skins. They may also be hopeless romantics.
I want the audience that needs this book to find this book and I hope it is their everything.

I knew of Keah Brown from her #disabledandcute. She is not wrong in that hashtag; this lady is totes adorbs. S
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a great read! She writes honestly - and hilariously - about being a black woman with cerebral palsy. It was refreshing to have a different point of view, but also relatable in the things she shared that she has struggled with. She is a delightful writer, I hope she writes more!
Kelly Hager
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I initially accepted the pitch for this because I am obsessed with all things pop culture and because this is a voice that I don't really hear that often. (I read books about and by Black authors, but I don't know off the top of my head how many books by disabled authors I've read. Which means I don't read enough of them. I would like recommendations.)

I'm so glad I did. Keah Brown and I have a lot of pop culture in common and I got almost all of her references. I had that sort of giddy "ME TOO!"
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Keah Brown changed my life. Well, that may be a bit dramatic, but her memoir The Pretty One completely transformed my perspective on disability from a narrative of brokenness in need of fixing to a theology of a purposeful state of being. “Disability is not monolithic...we should be seen as human beings with our own autonomy.”

The Pretty One held the mirror up to my own biases and introduced me to ableist discrimination, a distorted sense of perfection of the human body and discomfort caused by
Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, dnf
This is a tough book to rate.

On one hand, this is such an important topic that it should be explored by everyone. If I could, I’d give this book to entire communities of people for free. I’d translate it in every language. I’d make it a mandatory reading in schools.

The author is a beautiful person not only on the inside but also on the outside. We definitely need more role models like her in this inhospitable and judgmental world.

There are some chapters in this book that will stay with me for
I think I understand what happened here... This is one of several books I've read recently where the blurb mentions that the author started a popular social media hashtag and the subtext is that perhaps that's the origin of the book deal... I mean I get it. As a publisher, even if you think a small percentage of a person's followers might buy their book, you're still looking at a certain number of guaranteed sales. It's a safe bet. However, the books that come out of these types of deals tend to ...more
Katie Tamola
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I can’t say enough good things about this memoir and about Keah Brown. I was so excited to read this and she did not disappoint. Heartfelt and funny, this is one of those books that feels like a best friend. I’m excited to be sharing this one with my friends!
Never Without a Book
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Born with cerebral palsy and the creator of the viral hashtag #DisabledAndCute, Keah Brown is not one to let her disability slow her down. In her debut collection of essays, The Pretty One, Brown tells her story of what’s it like to be Black and disabled. This read was truly an experience outside of my own. I laughed, cried and couldn’t get enough of Brown’s positivity and determination. I am so happy this book exists. This is a must read!

Thank you, Atria Books & Netgalley, for gifting me a cop
Undoubtedly helpful and necessary to many, but this didn't do much for me. The topics were mostly interesting and important, but the writing was repetitive and often very long-winded and drifted away from the point a lot. I enjoy my essays a little tighter and less blog-ish, so this got quite boring and distracting at times. I respect and enjoy Keah's perspective on disability and the many issues faced by the disabled and POC communities, but honestly I just really can't stand taking this kind o ...more
Morgan Schulman
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reader-s-copy
I received an advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review.

This is exactly the book we need right now. Not only does it inform and challenge stigma against people with disabilities, it is a meaningful story of the author’s journey to see herself as cute AND disabled. In a world that does not always love us, we need to love ourselves. We need to celebrate our own beauty in order to have the strength to fight the world’s ugly
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
These essays were a joy to read. You can feel the author's authenticity and spirit on every page. Ms. Brown does not shy away from showing us her inner most thoughts and experiences as a black, disabled woman who does not let her disability define her as a person. She takes us through the experiences that have had the most impact on her life, and have helped her develop her most authentic self.
I especially loved her use of literary devices such as metaphors, to talk about certain things; like ho
Nov 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Keah Brown is a black female writer, an identical twin, a sister, a daughter, and a friend, who also happens to have cerebral palsy that affects the right side of her body. She is the creator of the hashtag #disabledandcute. The Pretty One is a collection of essays on disability, friendship, unrequited love, pop culture, music, and seeking representation in a world where people only see you if you're white, beautiful, and able-bodied. I thought her best essay was "I Like Me Now, Too," the final ...more
There’s nothing wrong with being different, but that’s not how the world made Keah Brown feel. She spent her childhood believing she was the same as everyone else, but she has cerebral palsy.

The Pretty One (Atria Books) by Keah Brown is a collection of essays not only about living but living with a disability. Brown acknowledges she is different, and though it took a long time, she knows she is beautiful because of it. This book is a journey of self-discovery that would inspire anyone.

Brown’s wo
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
In essays about topics ranging from her relationship to her sister, to her love of music, to embracing herself as she is, Brown speaks passionately about her life and our world. Her words are a call to action for greater representation for disabled people, which she’s actively embodying with her writing, advocacy, and visibility. She’s honest about her struggles, both past and ongoing, and gives the reader a look into her journey for self love and peace with her body. She doesn’t shy away from t ...more
Shelley M.
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read a few memoirs during the #DisabilityReadathon, and this was definitely the most radical. I liked Keah's attention to intersectionality, and how she talked about her identities as a black disabled woman. She seemed very vulnerable and open in this book, especially in her writing about friendships that fell apart and her relationships with her siblings. It seemed like she was actually being really hard on herself for her role in the problems in those relationships, but I wasn't there, so I ...more
I wrote a long, rambling review of my thoughts while reading The Pretty One by Keah Brown, and then I realized I was just paraphrasing content that the author had already eloquently stated in a much more poignant, honest, and firsthand way. So I’m keeping those rambling thoughts for myself as a reminder that I still have so much to learn from others, and using this space to tell everyone in the world that you really need to go out and pick this book up and read it for yourself.

The Pretty One to
Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)
Thank you to NetGalley, Atria Books and Keah Brown for an ARC ebook copy. As always, an honest review from me.

- fun, quick, entertaining read
- Love her personality
- Discusses that she doesn't want people using her life as a disabled person as their inspiration (instead of being inspired by her personality, achievements and general awesomeness!)
- Her discussion about learning to do her own ponytail
- The author's personality --> it really shows through her writing style and keeps the boo
Bonnie Cline
Sep 25, 2019 rated it liked it
At first, I just really didn't get the writing style of this book. It helped to remind myself more than several times that it's a collection of essays...really more like a compilation of separate personal blog posts -- and, Keah Brown may be onto something here.

Through this style, we get to know her -- her challenges, her joys and yearnings. Other writers may have presented their story differently; Brown is a young disabled black woman. Yet, weaving the tale of her life, so far, by linking m
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

Excellent array of essays, a little redundant - at times, that has given me so much to think about. I love it, when something I read expands my awareness. This collection of essays certainly has, from thinking about the minutia (to me - an able bodied person) of seating and the comfort or lack there of, to a disabled person; to the lack of romantic love that some disabled people will never experience; to one that most minority groups seek, better representation in the media - rather tha
Apr 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
There are not many books about disability written by a disabled person and Brown's book has the added aspect of intersectionality as she is a black and disabled woman. There are a lot of important topics frequently discussed among those with disability, but that do not often get much of a voice in the mainstream, such as: ableism, inspiration porn, representation of person's with disabilities in media, suicidal ideation, and even friendships and dating. Each topic is covered through Brown's thou ...more
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very well-written essay collection about living as a disabled woman of color - how these intersections affect personal relationships, self-worth, internalized ableism, seeing one’s self (or not, as is the case) in books, film, and TV, and mental health. She writes so bravely about self-destructive thoughts and the plan to end her own life in a way that I think we don’t often “allow” in disability literature and she credits books by Sarah Dessen and Toni Morrison to helping her. Brown has a ref ...more
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When I come across I book I love, one of two things happen: I either tear through it in an effort to devour the words and let them fill my skin, or I take my time because everything said is so genius and so impactful. Keah Brown's debut collection definitely falls into the latter group. As a fellow disabled writer, this book was such a joy to read. Never have a read something so truthful and vulnerable about disability, self love, and one's life in general.

Very excited to see where Keah goes fro
Isabelle Leventhal
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Keah Brown does and excellent job of the personal as political essay, exploring the way her belonging to multiple marginalized communities has been highlighted by the thing she loves most: pop culture. Writing about love and beauty and self awareness/acceptance, Brown discusses her experience as a black woman with cerebral palsy but also touches upon some universal experiences.
I’m giving it a 3 stars even though I didn’t finish the last two essays.

The first half of the book was very strong but towards the end it felt long winded, repetitive and a bit too preachy (the last I don’t usually mind.) I think it should have been a tad bit shorter and I would have loved more personal stories thrown in rather than her just listing things she likes or does. A very enlightening read though.
Megan Sanks
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a great read! Brown also inspired me to listen to Demi Lovato's second album for the first time in years and it still holds up.
Oct 25, 2019 rated it liked it
A vulnerable set of essays that both describe a very specific experience as well as a universal struggle with self-love.
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminism
3.5 for writing, 5 for content. Specifically enjoyed her analysis of religion, beauty, and pain.
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Keah Brown is a journalist and freelance writer from Western New York. Her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Essence, Catapult, Harper’s Bazaar, and Lenny Letter among other publications. She is currently writing her debut essay collection “The Pretty One” slated for 2019 release via Atria Books.

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“It is my belief that sometimes we keep secrets and our deepest insecurities because we believe that if other people found them out they would agree and believe them to be true, too.” 3 likes
“There is an extra bit of sting when you remember how people you love and who love you can hurt you in ways neither of you can recognize until after the fact.” 1 likes
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