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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.

Poetic tours is hosting a giveaway for this book, you can enter it here:

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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:

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Cait @ Paper Fury
3 years ago

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… Read more »

Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight

This sounds like a fantastic book for spreading more understanding about disability and helping people to see from some new perspectives!

3 years ago

Honestly this book sounds so powerful. We should try to understand disabled people more! I myself would love to learn more about disabilities so this would definitely be on my TBR!!!

3 years ago

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 🙂

Sophie @ Blame Chocolate

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.

Karen Blue
3 years ago

I really want to read this now. Thanks for sharing your honest review of this. I need more of these kinds of books in my reading.

Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium
Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium
3 years ago

what a great review. And yes I should apologize to! Was this the one Amazon wouldn’t let you post??

Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium
Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium
3 years ago

HA! you naughty naughty naughty girl! 🙂 they should ave provided you with a link to the review to edit. If not try entering a new one, it will take you to the one you already have there. Not that EVER said a bad word in a review and that’s why I know all this! [she looks side to side] lol


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Jackie B.
3 years ago

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!… Read more »

Olivia Roach
3 years ago

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.


[…] I can recommend on disability, even though it’s not about blindness – it’s called It’s Just Nerves by Kelly Davio. This is a very good book to learn to understand disability (and ableism!) better. […]