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Everything We Don’t Know About Ableism It's Just Nerves by Kelly Davio

When I was offered the chance to review this nonfiction collection about disability, I just couldn’t say no. Bring on these topics. I gotta make dialogue about this.

And I was not wrong to accept. It’s Just Nerves is a very short and sobering experience. It’s not my first time reading #ownvoices disability texts, but as every time, there is always something new. So why should you read this?

I think It’s Just Nerves should be read by all – healthy or disabled, #spoonie or not. And especially if you’re just a regular person who pretty much goes to the clinic only for sprained ankles or a bad cold. Because there’s this sad thing that happens to regular people like us – to people who have never experienced being incapacitated, frail, exhausted – and that thing is called ableism.

Most of the time, we don’t know ableism even exists. This is true for most of us. We have our own problems. And surely enough, our problems are always misjudged, always disregarded. We are the center of our world. Which is why we often do, excuse my language, bad shit, for example, make a disabled person move over to we could sit down with our kid (actual quoted occurrence from the book.) Or we call out a person who ‘looked at us weird’ although they literally can’t move their face into a different configuration cause they are partly paralyzed. We judge someone as being lazy for wearing ‘sloppy clothes’, not considering that maybe it costs them so much to even put those on. And these are just small examples – ableism manifests in little things, such as even thinking ‘oh, that person should just go on a diet already’ or even ‘I can also pretend I have a headache’. All you who have never done this, raise your hand? Point made.

I want to personally apologize to all those people who have suffered slander, pain or even mere inconvenience on our part – from us as the society of healthy people (although I sometimes lean towards a spoonie myself, but that’s beside the point). I will always try to help and understand, and yet, I will not hesitate to apologize for the rest of us who don’t. Because if I started a conversation about what’s wrong with this society, I could go on for days – it’s not even about the lack of comfort, understanding or convenient facilities we’re talking about. It’s the fact that our society views a disabled or chronically ill person as a lesser being – denying the fact that it might be their identity. That they might want to be accepted for who they are – without having to be ‘exorcised’ first. That our ‘mindfulness’ will never become true soulfulness until we start looking outwards instead of inwards.

And this is why you read this book. It’s shocking. It’s tough. It might be political. It will be rough. But it’s time to stop shielding yourself from your comfortable reality – come out and face the facts. Stop the hate. Learn more about your neighbour.

One more thing – I apologize if I have used language anyone who’s ill or disabled might find offensive. If you feel like I did, please notify me. Anything like that would be coming from ignorance rather than a wish to discriminate or hurt you.

Content warnings: sickness, pain, hospital experience, trauma, religious fanaticism, political intricacies, human pettiness. Yes, you need to read about all of this.

About the Author:

Kelly Davio is the author of Burn This House and the forthcoming The Book of the Unreal Woman. She is the founding editor of Tahoma Literary Review and the former Managing Editor of The Los Angeles Review. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Verse Daily, The Rumpus, and many others. She earned her MFA in poetry from Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. Today, she works as a medical editor in New Jersey.

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* I am not the host of this giveaway and I am in no way associated with it, merely sharing the link.

I have received this book in exchange for my honest review through Poetic Book Tours. Thank you! For more info, click the Poetic Book Tours Button:

I’m Evelina and I try to blog about books that matter, with a bit of fun there too! Disability and equality will be topics you see a lot, but there’s also a lot of scifi, fantasy and… GIFs. I’m also the proud founder of #ARCsAnonymous.

21 thoughts on “Everything We Don’t Know About Ableism It's Just Nerves by Kelly Davio

  1. Oh this was such a great review and I’m REALLY interested in the book!! It’s really sad how people don’t even realise how ableist they can be. Like even the language we use (ex: “oh that’s crazy” and “you’re insane” and “are you deaf” when someone doesn’t hear us the first time) is really rooted in ableism. I’m really aware of it (having an invisible disability myself) but I slip up all the time too. I think books like these are really really important and honestly the world would be a better place if we were all more educated and cared.

    So enjoyed reading your thoughts!!
    Cait @ Paper Fury recently posted…10 Reasons YA Books Should Mention Food (And Not JUST Because I’m Hungry…But Mostly)My Profile

    1. Yay! I’m glad you enjoyed it. You even visited when I’ve been such a delinquent and totally not visited your blog! Got some total catching up to do. You’ll probably get a comment dump from me again 😀
      But yes. You are so right. It’s very easy to slip up, there are things we don’t really know we’re being ableist about. I didn’t even know what ableism WAS before I started blogging. And I’m sad that it’s only the books, you know? They reach a relatively small amount or the population. It needs to go out to shows, movies. Something that your average Jane and Joe watch…

  2. It never ceases to amaze me how ignorant people can be and the lack of tolerance for things they don’t understand. I know I have my moments, but I try to take them on as learning experiences.

    Wonderful review for what sounds like a great book that everyone should read 🙂
    Wattle recently posted…Sunday Post #5My Profile

    1. Thank you, I’m glad you liked it 🙂 I’m sure we all have those moments. Especially when we don’t even know… disability should be accentuated more in the media, especially mass media. What with all our ‘mindfulness’ trends, we should really rather try to be more mindful of others and not ourselves 🙂

  3. Very thoughtful book and review. I’m glad it was such an insightful and interesting read for you, and I absolutely agree that we as “healthy” individuals (health is subjective, but let’s go with that term) need to revise our places in the world as privileged individuals, our attitude towards others who aren’t as fortunate, and make room for some compassion in our busy/troubled hearts. Everyone has problems, after all.

    1. Thanks for reading! I think it would be easier for everyone to understand if mass media gave it more attention. But I don’t know when that is going to even start happening…

  4. What a *wonderful* review, Evelina!!! I am so impressed. It’s obvious not only that you are passionate about this topic, but you are well-informed and practical as well. I am in a place where I constantly feel uninformed and ignorant about all sorts of topics (for example, I constantly see warnings/problematic content identified as ableist– what does that mean? I mean, I know what it means, but I can never recognize it! I am always so embarrassed… Ugh) — so I keep trying to read more and more and more, but alas. Rarely do I feel like I’m gaining ground!

    This is a collection of essays, yes? Do you have a favorite? And if so, why is it your favorite?

    I can’t find much detail about Davio’s #ownvoices experiences online. Can you elaborate a bit to help give some context to this collection?
    Jackie B. recently posted…RingworldMy Profile

    1. Thank you! Actually, before I read this book, I was also always wondering about what ableist even meant. But I read this and it just became completely clear! So I suggest you read this essay collection because it’s a great exercise for your empathy and humanity, and you’ll also finally be aware of what ableism is. Ableism can’t be understood with the mind. It’s the heart that understands it. Which is why this book helped me figure it out 🙂
      Also, it’s a short read, only like 100+ pages. So it’s definitely worth it.
      Actually, I can’t say which is my favorite because I was listening to this book! I put it on my PocketBook app and cleaned the house from top to bottom while it read the book back to me 😀 so I can’t tell where the beginnings and ends of chapters were. To me, it was just like a stream of consciousness by the writer. Which is perhaps why it worked so well. I didn’t even notice how I cleaned EVERYTHING in the house, including the floors and even behind the bed :DD the book was over much too soon. I didn’t expect it to be so short.
      As for her #ownvoices experience, she has a rare disease that I can’t name right now, but part of the struggle is that it’s so rare, nobody knows what it is, medicine is hard to come by, especially being compensated for it, because… well, nobody knows. Procedures generally work for people who come and come again, and she’s like one of a kind. That disease has made it nearly impossible for her to move for a couple of years at least, as much as I know. To the point of not being able to focus her eyes to read because they kept wobbling (which is a particular kind of nightmare to talk about to a bookworm!) That’s as much as I can remember from the essay connection, anyway. I hope I’m not getting something wrong, I might not be 100% accurate.

  5. This was a really well done post, and very well written! I have a younger sister who is physically disabled and although she must be the one who feels the worse affects of ableism, sometimes even navigating the wheelchair or the way some people treat us (me trying to help her do something/go places/experience something) is kind of really disappointing? But at the same time, I know we all fall victim of ableism too – myself included – because we just don’t know. And we can be ignorant and judgey despite that. What’s important is to be aware.
    Olivia Roach recently posted…Last Chance [Book Review & Giveaway!]My Profile

    1. Aw, thank you, Olivia 🙂 yeah, it baffles you how much you actually don’t know about this stuff, huh? I mean, probably not you – because you have dealt with/seen a lot of this stuff because of your sister and her situation. But I sure haven’t. Half of these things I wouldn’t even dream of. Which is why I was sooooo baffled by that book. All I can say is “eye-opening”. So I feel like this book taught me a lot 🙂
      Thanks for reading!

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