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In 1958, amongst the children born with spina bifida is Riva Lehrer. Her parents and doctors are determined to “fix” her, sending the message over and over again that she is broken, that she will never have a job, a romantic relationship, or an independent life. Enduring countless medical interventions, Riva tries her best to be a good girl and a good patient in the quest to be cured. Everything changes when, as an adult, Riva is invited to join a group of artists, writers, and performers who are building Disability Culture. They insist that disability is an opportunity for creativity and resistance. Emboldened, Riva asks if she can paint their portraits‚ inventing an intimate and collaborative process that will transform the way she sees herself, others, and the world. Each portrait story begins to transform the myths she’s been told her whole life about her body, her sexuality, and other measures of normal. Written with the vivid, cinematic prose of a visual artist and the author’s magnificent portraits featured throughout, Golem Girl is an extraordinary story of tenacity and creativity.
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