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Planet of the Blind
By Stephen Kuusisto
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Review by Allison Martin

Planet of the Blind is the compelling autobiography of Stephen Kuusisto, who is blind as a consequence of his premature birth. Kuusisto was born three months premature in 1955. Like many early preemies of that time he had ROP (retinopathy of prematurity) which eventually resulted in blindness. His parents raised him to "be like everyone else" as much as possible. This approach had tremendous benefits but also a great cost. He was enrolled in mainstream school (with little auxiliary support), to read with the assistance of glasses, and even encouraged to ride a bike. Planet of the Blind is the story of his struggle with the ignorance of those in the sighted world. But it is also his personal struggle of coming to terms with his blindness, so that he could find and use the modifications which would make help place him on more equal footing.

Stephen Kuusisto does an exemplary job of describing what it is like to be blind in a sighted word, as a child and as an adult. He is an accomplished story teller with a fascinating life, which he shares freely in his book. Occasionally bogs down into despair and frustration, which is both realistic and helpful for us to share. He also shares his intense literary interest and spirit of adventure and independence. His account of the acquisition of his first companion guide dog is truly heartwarming. This is the story of a unique and brave man, who has made a difference in the world by opening up his life to others.

A question I often get from parents of preemies and young children with special needs is, "What will life be like for my child?". This book will be of interest to those who would like to hear one person's well documented answer to this question. Professionals, teachers and others who work with children and/or adults with special needs will also find this an insightful and compelling resource.

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