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Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  1,653 ratings  ·  329 reviews
Born with deaf-blindness, Girma grew up with enough vision to know when someone was in front of her and enough hearing to know when someone close to her was talking. However, she had difficulty reading facial features or distinguishing people in group conversations. Relying on her own problem-solving skills, Girma overcame roadblocks while simultaneously obtaining her unde ...more
Audiobook
Published August 6th 2019 by Twelve
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  • Haben by Haben Girma
    Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law

    Release date: Aug 11, 2020
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    The incredible life story of Haben Girma, the first Deafblind graduate
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    Average rating 4.21  · 
    Rating details
     ·  1,653 ratings  ·  329 reviews


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    Start your review of Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law
    Dave
    "Hagen" is the autobiographical story of Harvard's first deaf blind law school graduate. Her story, told in episodes from her childhood through professional life is one where she consistently proves that she could do what others said she couldn't, be it taking a college hike, learning to salsa dance from a blind instructor, or building a school in rural Mali. Now a disability rights advocate, who began her advocacy with demanding her college cafeteria provide an email menu that her computer coul ...more
    Mariah Roze
    Jun 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
    This book has been on my to-read for a while! There was a long "hold" line at the library for this book, so I was super excited when I received it. The book definitely lived up to its expectations. I really enjoyed the read :)

    "Born with deaf-blindness, Girma grew up with enough vision to know when someone was in front of her and enough hearing to know when someone close to her was talking. However, she had difficulty reading facial features or distinguishing people in group conversations. Relyin
    ...more
    RuthAnn
    Thank you to Libro.fm and Hachette Audio for my free audio copy for review!

    A few notable aspects about this audiobook:

    - Haben reads for this production! I assumed that a deafblind person wouldn't be able to speak, but my assumption got shot to pieces right away. I needed to adjust to her tone of voice, but I'm glad to have heard her story in her voice.
    - I learned A LOT about what being deafblind is like. It reminded me of when I read El Deafo, and the physical, everyday reality was so foreign
    ...more
    Connor
    Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
    I really enjoyed learning a bit about Haben's journey as a deafblind person and about some of the cool accomplishments she's achieved so far. I listened to the audiobook after one of my law school professors said it was a good read.

    Haben's voice is high-pitched, maybe in part because she is/was able to hear high-pitched noises easier than lower ones. I wasn't expecting it when I first started listening, but it takes no time at all before you get sucked in to hearing Haben talk about her loving f
    ...more
    Laura • lauralovestoread
    Haben Girma has such an impactful life story to tell, and I was blown away by her memoir. As the first deafblind woman to graduate from Harvard Law School, Haben shares her experience in a moving way, and uses them to bring awareness and advocate for people with disabilities.

    Thank you to the publisher, and to Libro.fm for the gifted copy and audiobook. All opinions are my own
    emmy
    Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: blog-recs
    Mentioned in a blog post at https://booksbeyondbinaries.blog/2020... ...more
    Leslie
    Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    This is an amazing book to read. Haben interweaves much needed advice on the life of people with disabilities. She gives so many example about how she navigates life while having great adventures.
    Best book I have read in a long time.
    Irene
    Oct 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
    This is the memoir of the first deafblind woman to graduate from Harvard Law School. The daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, she grew up with limited vision and hearing which grew worse over the years. Covering about 2 decades, this had an episodic feel. I wanted more insight into her daily life, how her peers responded to her, her interior life, etc. I was impressed with the support she received from her public high school, her liberal arts college and Harvard Law School. She comes across as a br ...more
    Brittany Baker
    Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Wow. This book was incredible. Haben Girma's life so far is a story worth telling, and it is beautifully told. She has the rare ability to explain key moments in her life so clearly and vividly that one experiences them with her. (It is one thing to tell someone a story, and another thing entirely to help them feel it.) Girma's big heart and wonderful sense of humor as she describes the joys and frustrations of her life made this memoir a genuine pleasure to read. With kindness and patience, she ...more
    Glenda Nelms
    Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Amazing, incredible and worth telling memoir of resilience and love. Haben Girma’s Story teaches us to embrace the unknown, never give up and stand up for yourself. She demonstrates that accessibility for all benefits all. Haben continues to advocates for equal opportunities for people with disabilities. One of my favorite quotes from her memoir “Writing is Advocacy. Writing is strength. Writing is power”Thank you Haben Girma for sharing your story and advocacy.
    Raquel Evans
    I enjoy books that let me see the world through someone else's eyes, though in this case it might be more accurate to say this book let me feel the world through someone else's hands. I didn't always agree with her opinions on what is the most just/ideal outcome for difficult situations, but I did love hearing her life story, and even the places I disagreed were good for making me think through specific situations and how I DO think they should be handled.

    Content concerns would be very low fo
    ...more
    Lisa
    Sep 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: wackynonfiction
    I really enjoyed this quick read. Haben's family history is as interesting as her childhood is as intriguing as her journey to adulthood. Being a deafblind woman, Haben's story guides the reader to understand civil right issues for persons with disabilities. It made me constantly think about my library - how user-friendly is it to persons with disabilities? What if Haben walked in and asked us for assistance - how would we react and provide her with the outstanding customer service we pride ours ...more
    Lindsay Kerr
    Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    It was wonderful to read a little bit more about one of the many influential disability rights advocates after meeting her at an event in Los Angeles.
    Karin
    Haben is pronounced thusly: the Ha is like haha, and the ben as in Benevolent (ie it doesn't rhyme with RobIN).

    If you are shocked that I only gave this three stars, so am I. Haben herself is a 5 star woman. Part of my disappointment is due to the poorly chosen subtitle because I was expecting a lot more about her application to and time at Harvard. Only ONE chapter discusses her time at Harvard Law School! This isn't to say that there was nothing interesting, but I know that Girma is brilliant s
    ...more
    Donna Hines
    Haben Girma had to overcome numerous challenges and did so with grace, dignity, and superb insight.
    Yet through all these challenges she never changed who she was internally and kept her stand to help others in the fight for the same working closely with Americans with Disabilities.
    Her story doesn't have a beginning , middle, or an end as she is busy living it in full fashion for the world to see including but not limited to the Former President and Vice President of the United States of America
    ...more
    Anne Slater
    Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: finished
    This is an amazing depiction of a seriously intelligent woman with a progressively worsening disability who just keeps saying YES to life. Not an ounce of self-pity to be found, and even a love affair hinted at if you follow the names of the people in her life.

    The world is fortunate to have her in it. Her persistence, her intellectual capacity and creativity, her forthrightness make Haben Girma a total winner. Her thoughtful observations of what is available and what is necessary to provide disa
    ...more
    Ren
    Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Amazing book about an accomplished woman with unique life experiences. Loved learning about her life as she grew up and the challenges she has faced when the world around her has been less than accompdating. She is an amazingly hard worker and I love her positive attitude and how much she is willing to try anything, like building a school in Mali or climbing a glacier. Also love that she is a disability rights advocate.
    Lizvette
    Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    The relief you feel when you finished a book that you haven’t enjoyed at all. 🤔🥴 This book should be under young adult genre. I don’t even categorize it an autobiography. They’re short stories, essays. Regardless of Haben's achievements and bravery, the writing is slow, silly and uninteresting. It needs editing!!!
    Lindsey Guevel
    Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    This book was so good. There were so many different quotes I could relate to. I am not one to typically read autobiographies, but this one was worth it. I highly recommend others to read this as it can change your perspectives around deafblind individuals as it did for me.

    I think this individual is someone I can look up to who is bold to change things and pave the way for others.
    Nilsa Pacheco
    Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
    I am sure this young lady has a remarkable story worth telling, however, the way the book is written does not do it justice. The book reads like a poorly written comic book, with inconsequential dialog and lame lines. I didn't like it at all.
    Suzanne
    Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    A lovely and delightful depiction of Haban's persistence, humor and strength. The reader will enjoy her adventures, obstacles and victories.
    Shavawn
    Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Recommended to Shavawn by: Nicole Furst
    What an amazing story told by an incredible human being. We have so much to learn from each other's differences. An excellent read for all.
    Rahul Singh
    Sep 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: audiobook
    This book is funny, interesting, positive and teaches you so much from the experiences of Haben in a world that is mostly not designed for her. My biggest takeaway: Haben doesn’t believe in setting limits.
    Karen
    Aug 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
    I really liked this memoir by Haben Girma who was the first Deafblind woman to attend Harvard (and succeed). Although I have always been fascinated with law school, and I had wished that she had discussed more about her time at Harvard (I have read One L by Scott Turow 3 times), I am so glad she wrote this book about her experiences. ...more
    Becky
    Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: non-fiction
    Haben is Haben Girma’s memoir, she’s a disability rights advocate and the first Deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law School. Girma is such a funny, thoughtful person and this book was a treat to read. I love that she tells her story in present tense, and from her childhood in Oakland, California and Eritrea through college, Harvard, and beyond in disability advocacy, I could not put this book down!⁣

    I learned so much, especially about alternative techniques that Deafblind (and Deaf and
    ...more
    Alicia
    Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    As a teacher of students with hearing loss, and someone who interpreted for several years, I tend to stay away from books regarding those with hearing loss because, so often, it feels like it’s all the good things and how wonderful it is that a disabled person can do a normal thing. (Not denying the amazing ness of technology or legislation....but people with disabilities have many strengths and don’t have to be defined by their lack of hearing, sight, etc.)
    Haben Grima tells a series of life st
    ...more
    Neelam Babul
    Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    This book was incredibly inspiring and captivating. Haben Girma's life is worth reading and understanding. She portrays a unique ability to explain the pivotal moments in her life so vividly that one experiences them with her.

    Girma describes the joys and frustrations of her life as a deafblind woman who perceives herself as capable of accomplishing whatever she desires. Throughout the story, one reads her experiences as she conquers various feats without regarding her disability as a drawback.

    G
    ...more
    Kirsty Mcdougall
    Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    I highly recommend listening to this memoir as an audiobook as well as reading along. The author reads the book and her expression really brought her story to life for me. I felt her successes, frustrations and triumphs in a way I haven’t in other memoirs.

    The authors determination to make sure the system she is operating in allows her to have equal opportunity was very motivating to me as a female lawyer with a chronic illness.

    Societal prejudice needs to progress. We all have a responsibility t
    ...more
    Larisha
    Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Excellent memoir. I was reminded and learned a lot about how ableism still haunts people with disabilities, how very few blind students in the U.S. have consistent access to Braille, and only about 10% receive Braille instruction, sadly exclusion is the norm around the world.

    How true “Disability is part of the human experience: most people will need to seek accessibility solutions at some point - for a family member, a friend, oneself.

    Haben Girma and the countless other pioneers using assistive
    ...more
    Susan
    Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Thank you Sarah for this recommendation! What a journey so far for Haben, her family and the reader. This woman does not accept the words no or impossible. She encourages us to dream, live and astound the "normal folks". Good on her!
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    124 followers
    Haben Girma advocates for equal opportunities for people with disabilities. President Obama named her a White House Champion of Change. She received the Helen Keller Achievement Award, and a spot on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Chancellor Angela Merkel have all honored Haben. Her work has been featured in the Financial Times, BBC, Washingt ...more

    News & Interviews

    Karen M. McManus, the bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying, Two Can Keep a Secret, and One of Us Is Next, doesn’t shy away from secrets and...
    54 likes · 0 comments
    “All of our bodies change over time. We all deserve dignity and access at every stage in our lives. Most people will need to seek accessibility solutions at some point, whether for a family member, a colleague, or for oneself. Disability is part of the human experience. We all need to engage in the work to make our world accessible to everyone. Inclusion is a choice.” 4 likes
    “Society frames people with disabilities as incapable of contributing. And yet, these kids treat me like someone with gifts to share and lessons to teach.” 4 likes
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