Title: Live the Impossible: How a wheelchair has taken me places I never dared to imagine
Author: Jenny Smith
Major Themes: Disabilities, Wheelchairs, Quadriplegia
Synopsis: After an accident when she was 16, Jenny Smith became a quadriplegic—but her life was not ruined!
Approximately 35 years ago, we heard the startling news that a friend from another state, the father of eight young children, had been in a car accident, had broken his back, and would never walk again. We often crossed paths with him and his family, and it was always inspiring to see his smile and hear his cheerful laugh. I remember one day, probably 5-10 years after the accident, when a very old lady in our church was commiserating with this man about how terrible it was that he was now confined to a wheelchair. I’ll never forget his response. He exclaimed, “It was the best thing that ever happened to me!” That was the feeling I got from Jenny Smith throughout her story in Live the Impossible. She didn’t feel that way at first, and I’m not sure she would actually say that now, but she certainly sees what she has gained through her disability.
Jenny was only 16, and an accomplished gymnast, when she slipped one day while doing a flip and broke her neck. Her life changed completely. She had to accept that she would never feel her body below the waist again, she needed help with the most intimate functions of life, and she had to relearn how to do the simplest things with her hands. She also had to learn how to trust that God still loved her and was in control of her life and what happened.
Through the next 30 years, Jenny found herself doing things she never imagined doing. She made up her mind to try anything—once, at least. Some of her new activities became lifelong sports. She also found herself going to other countries and distributing wheelchairs to those who needed them. She also learned how to live by herself and do almost everything for herself—I was astounded at what she was able to do, with very limited mobility in her arms and nothing below her chest!
Live the Impossible is a very inspiring story. I really appreciated Jenny’s attitude about counting her blessings and praising God for everything possible. Her acceptance of what God was doing in her life, though she allowed herself to grieve her losses, is something we can all learn from and put into practice in our own lives. I also learned a lot from this book about life as a quadriplegic. Jenny is very frank about the challenges she faces, and how she copes.
I received a review copy of this book from CelebrateLit, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
WARNING: Chapter 8: my gosh; Chapter 21 contains a discussion about sexuality; Chapter 29: scares the heck
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults