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Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  1,476 ratings  ·  294 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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Average rating 4.20  · 
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 ·  1,476 ratings  ·  294 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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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!!!
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!
Jennifer
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
After seeing her speak at PLA this year, I knew I had to read her book, and yes, it was just as witty and charming as she was in person. She makes you think about accessibility in new ways and I love how she highlights that everyone benefits from it, disabled or not. Highly recommended!
Ely
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished this one days ago and yet, I still haven't been able to find the right words to talk about this. Just know that I think this book is incredible and should be required reading!
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
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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

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