Audiobooks open up a whole new world for people with disabilities. I love to learn but have always found the act of reading to be difficult. I have a visual perception deficit; my brain misinterprets what my eyes see. When reading, I need to have texts enlarged or it becomes difficult to keep everything straight. Additionally, my hands and arms do not always cooperate in the page turning process! Audiobooks solves all those problems. Let’s face it, who doesn’t like to be read a story! I just finished the audiobook by Zach Anner called “If at Birth You Don’t Succeed: My Adventures with Disasters and Destiny”.
Zach Anner is a comedian, actor and writer who was born with cerebral palsy. He first gained attention when he competed on the Oprah Winfrey Show for his own TV show. He won the contest and his first show “Rollin with Zach” was created. Unfortunately, the show cancelled after 6 episodes. Zach Anner has continued to write and create. He has also had several YouTube shows. In addition to his YouTube videos, Zach Anner helps to promote the ABC show, “Speechless”. When my mom told me she had purchased his audiobook, “If at Birth You Don’t Succeed: My Adventures With Disasters and Destiny”, I was very excited to dive right in.
I listened to “If at Birth You Don’t Succeed: My Adventures With Disasters and Destiny” every morning while I ate me breakfast on my Amazon Echo. One of the first things I took note of is that unlike most authors, Zach Anner narrated the book himself! I loved the fact that he narrated his biography because as Dr. Seuss said, “There’s no one else who is youer than you.” I also found his attempt at a German accent to be quite hilarious. Zach Anner spoke very naturally, like he was talking to you. Like me, he is very uncensored and very sarcastic. This can be a major disadvantage at times, but other times, it can be great for the entertainment factor. The message throughout this book is to embrace your abilities and disabilities. The fact that Zach Anner opted to narrate his own book makes exactly that statement. He may not have the best of voice control (although great for having cerebral palsy), but he narrated this book 100% Zach Anner, a man with cerebral palsy.
“If at Birth You Don’t Succeed: My Adventures with Disasters and Destiny” really highlights him as a person, Zach Anner, the celebrity and the man with Cerebral Palsy. He discusses his life from birth to the present. Through “If at Birth You Don’t Succeed: My Adventures with Disasters and Destiny”, Zach Anner discusses his experiences on the Oprah Show, his YouTube shows, and his other professions. He does not sugar coat the challenges. He also never loses his humor through those challenges.
Zach Anner also addresses the challenges of life in general, some due to his disability, some due to circumstance and some a mixture of both. In “If at Birth You Don’t Succeed: My Adventures with Disasters and Destiny”, Zach Anner mentions several times about being a high school dropout. He does not explain why he dropped out, but not finishing high school did bring challenges. Zach Anner did eventually complete his GED and entered college. Digestion issues plague him and his physical limitations compound this challenge. Zach Anner boldly and honestly discusses an incident involving those issues that occurred during the taping of The Oprah Winfrey Show. This biography gives insight to how others interact with individuals with disabilities and the impact that can have. There are also stories of travel experiences and mishaps and the incredible people he met along the way.
“If at Birth You Don’t Succeed: My Adventures with Disasters and Destiny” contains a lot of experiences and situations that I can relate to. I relate to the many mishaps that have come from having CP, a lack of common sense or perhaps both. I have gone through 5 Play Stations, fractured both feet, broke several CD’s all from CP related clumsiness. I even broke the remote to my bed after getting stuck! In “If at Birth You Don’t Succeed: My Adventures with Disasters and Destiny”, Zach Anner talked about how difficult it is for him to do tasks that most able bodied people seem to do effortlessly. He talked about how it took him a couple hours to make his bed. He also discussed the frustration of those who help take care of him and the challenges they face as friends and family of an individual with a disability.
“If at Birth You Don’t Succeed: My Adventures with Disasters and Destiny” honestly addresses the issue of dating and sex as a man with a disability. Zach Anner’s discussion of his experiences really struck a chord with me. Despite my charm, good looks and humble nature I have the same difficulty as Zach Anner. Abled bodied women are not always open to dating a man with a disability. It can be difficult to separate the man from the disability. Additionally, many do not want to take on the responsibility that comes being in a relationship with a man with a disability. It has been my experience with young women who I have dated, separating me from my disability was a challenge. Zach Anner does an excellent job discussing this aspect of being a disabled man who is also a sexual being. One of the funniest stories told was an incident with a razor and an intimate body part while preparing for a date. Zach Anner’s humorous honesty is one of the things that really make this book a winner.
Zach Anner has really been an inspiration for me in many ways. He never let his disability get in the way. He always lives life to the fullest. He’s the kind of person that could get hit by a truck, and still be smiling, laughing, and talking your ear off. He lives life for the now, fully embracing who he is. He always set his sights high. He does not allow others to confine him or set limitations. He also embraces all the pros and cons of having cerebral palsy. He has the wonderful ability to laugh at himself. Those are some of the many ways that he inspires me.
I highly recommend “If at Birth You Don’t Succeed: My Adventures with Disasters and Destiny” to everyone, except for children as the language and the adult nature of some topics discussed are not appropriate. Individuals with disabilities will find inspiration. Zach Anner’s motivation and drive tosses away stereo types and plows through barriers. Caregivers and parents definitely need to read this book to have a heightened awareness of the desire of individuals with disabilities to live full and independent lives. Heartache and challenges are a part of live and loved ones need to allow individuals with disabilities to experience the good with the bad. My mom listened to the book with me and said she really found it to be enlightening. “If at Birth You Don’t Succeed: My Adventures with Disasters and Destiny” is a book every abled-bodied individual should read. It gives great insight to the lives of others who have physical challenges and how to interact with individuals with disabilities. Readers of this book will laugh as they learn.
“If at Birth You Don’t Succeed: My Adventures with Disasters and Destiny” is available in print and as an audiobook. I recommend the audiobook, having Zach Anner tell his story really adds to the message and the enjoyment. With Christmas around the corner, this would make an excellent gift for any adult on your list!
Until next time, Keep Rollin’ and Keep Smilin’
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