Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law” as Want to Read:
Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  447 ratings  ·  103 reviews
The incredible life story of the first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School and her amazing journey from isolation to the world stage.

Haben Girma faced impossible odds the moment she was born.

The daughter of an Eritrean refugee who fled her home country at the age of sixteen, Haben was born deaf-blind. She cannot see, and can only hear at the highest frequency. S
Kindle Edition, 289 pages
Published August 6th 2019 by Twelve
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  447 ratings  ·  103 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law
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 for the gifted copy and audiobook. All opinions are my own
Thank you to 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
Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
I will definitely be advocating for this book with our educator and school board customers in particular, but also just for general readers. We will be including it in the Politics of Disability section of our bookshop. It's a great title, and much needed.
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Brittany Baker
Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Lindsay Kerr
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
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.
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
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 that is available and what is necessary to
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Neelam Babul
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.<
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Haben Girma shares her story about navigating life as a deafblind woman who ends up going to Harvard Law. The Harvard Law part was actually only a small portion of the book. Her work has motivated me to continue with the (small amount of) work I do for disability rights and advocacy through various organizations. She has reminded me of all the work done by disability advocates over the years, and how there is more work to be done. Haben herself has done a tremendous amount of work to making it a ...more
Judy Frey
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I spent 35 years working with those with disabilities so I’m very attracted to stories like these. But this woman is especially impressive. She is Eritrean and grew up on stories of her refugees parents’ struggles in the thirty years of war with Ethiopia. She has a little residual hearing and vision but certainly not much. Others in her family are similarly affected. But what she does have is a huge hunger for independence and for learning. From a young age, she hated being told she couldn’t do ...more
Catherine Wojtkun
Haben grew up spending summers with her family in the enchanting Eritrean city of Asmara. There, she discovered courage as she faced off against a bull she couldn't see, and found in herself an abiding strength as she absorbed her parents' harrowing experiences during Eritrea's thirty-year war with Ethiopia. Their refugee story inspired her to embark on a quest for knowledge, traveling the world in search of the secret to belonging. She explored numerous fascinating places, including Mali, where ...more
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 bl
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Initially, I had no interest in reading this book. I thought it was going to be about law school & I went to law school - I had no need to read about it for an entire book. But it’s not at all that. Instead it’s a series of anecdotes from Haben Girma’s life - from childhood through adulthood (well, up till 2017 or so). It was a very entertaining read, the kind where you feel like you’re in the living room with the author, listening to them chat about their life. Her perspective on disability ...more
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an incredibly insightful biography that I would recommend to EVERYONE. I think my kids would even find the story interesting. Among other notable accomplishments, Haben Girma is the first Deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law. Her book is a collection of stories from childhood to 2015 as a disability rights lawyer and advocate. She now focuses much of her work on advising for ADA compliance. Haben is a remarkable woman and I adored reading her story. I honestly couldn't put it d ...more
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 usi
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book really opened my eyes to disability discrimination and disability politics. As a non disabled person, I rarely think about the challenges that disabled people face. Going forward, I will be more open/aware to the challenges that others face.
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2019, nonfiction
i don't really have great words to describe this memoir - it's a look at life as a deafblind person in america. it blows my mind that she is only 3 years older than me, and i haven't heard of her before. i'm going to be following her career with great interest!!
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don’t read nonfiction. ...but I’m glad I read this one. A great story about an inspirational woman, told in a voice that captivated me. I really liked it. Two thumbs up!
Shavawn Ellsbury
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.
Nilsa Pacheco
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.
Haben Girma is an amazing person and her story is incredible and inspiring. The book itself feels like it was written for a younger audience.
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommendation from O Magazine - a bit disjointed like some autobiography, but with a powerful thread/ message of strength and activism.

Don’t call someone blind - say they have a disability. They can do anything anyone else can do - including slide on a glacier slide.

P224 Hellen [Keller’s] disability didn’t hold her back, nor did her gender [women weren’t allowed at Harvard in those days]; it was the community at Harvard that chose to create barriers for women.

Neither Ha
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!
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!!!
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »