Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law

Written by:
Haben Girma
Narrated by:
Haben Girma

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
August 2019
7 hours 31 minutes
The incredible life story of Haben Girma, the first Deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School, and her amazing journey from isolation to the world stage.
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 she helped build a school under the scorching Saharan sun. Her many adventures over the years range from the hair-raising to the hilarious.

Haben defines disability as an opportunity for innovation. She learned non-visual techniques for everything from dancing salsa to handling an electric saw. She developed a text-to-braille communication system that created an exciting new way to connect with people. Haben pioneered her way through obstacles, graduated from Harvard Law, and now uses her talents to advocate for people with disabilities.

Haben takes readers through a thrilling game of blind hide-and-seek in Louisiana, a treacherous climb up an iceberg in Alaska, and a magical moment with President Obama at The White House. Warm, funny, thoughtful, and uplifting, this captivating memoir is a testament to one woman's determination to find the keys to connection.
'This autobiography by a millennial Helen Keller teems with grace and grit.' -- O Magazine
'A profoundly important memoir.' -- The Times
** As featured in The Wall Street Journal, People, and on The TODAY Show ** A New York Times 'New & Noteworthy' Pick ** An O Magazine 'Book of the Month' Pick ** A Publishers Weekly Bestseller **
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I enjoyed this listen! Sure, Haben's vocal pitch is in a higher register than I'm used to, but after settling into it I could fully hear her very important messages. Like the last reviewer mentioned, she didn't "finish" telling stories, but the story resolutions weren't her purpose. The reason why she faced specific hurdles and how to overcome them on a societal level was the purpose. Completing each story would have been extraneous. I'm grateful for her vulnerability in telling about the many blind spots that I had regarding ableism before I listened to this book. Haben has opened my eyes to how I can provide a more equitable foundation for others via my work and in daily interactions.

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Therese D.

This review is really difficult to write. I was really looking forward to this book, chosen as one of my read’s for Deaf History Month. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy it. What Haben accomplished and continues to do is amazing and important work. I just didn’t enjoy how the book was written. Although some of the stories started out interesting, they were often left unresolved. The book felt a bit disorganized and the telling of the stories lacked enough vulnerability to connect enough emotionally to be drawn in. It was almost tedious to get through after about halfway, and felt a sense of relief when it was over. I am absolutely certain that Haben’s stories would be compelling if told in a different manner, and I would still be interested to read further books of hers to see if the storytelling ability improves. For comparison, I also read Marlee Matlin’s autobiography “I’ll Scream Later,” which had some of the same lack of vulnerability issues, although she did go deeper than Haben, was better organized, and resolved her stories so I was able to enjoy that one. I also knew who Marlee was beforehand, but this was my first introduction to Haben. Haben narrated this book herself, which is great! However, due to her type of hearing loss where she can only hear higher frequencies, her voice is also at a higher frequency. I am sensitive to noises so I had to listen at a lower volume than normal and for shorter periods of time. Regardless, it felt more appropriate to listen to it in her own voice.

Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law
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