A World without Martha: A Memoir of Sisters, Disability, and Difference


Victoria Freeman

A World without Martha
Editions:Kindle: $ 23.31
ISBN: 0774880406
Pages: 327
Paperback: $ 29.95
ISBN: 0774880406
Pages: 328

Victoria Freeman was only four when her parents followed medical advice and sent her sister away to a distant, overcrowded institution. Martha was not yet two, but in 1960s Ontario there was little community acceptance or support for raising children with intellectual disabilities at home. In this frank and moving memoir, Victoria describes growing up in a world that excluded and dehumanized her sister, and how society’s insistence that only a “normal” life was worth living affected her sister, her family, and herself, until changing attitudes to disability and difference offered both sisters new possibilities for healing and self-discovery.

Reviews:Clare on Goodreads wrote:

This book was profoundly moving for me. It was difficult to read at times, and certainly when the author was recounting the early years and the prevailing attitudes of the day, I had to put it down and come back to it later. Her deep love and respect for her parents despite the impact of their decisions was evident, and I appreciated her unflinching look at her own prejudices. This is a compelling story of what can happen to a family when society decides one of them doesn't fit the mold, the choices they are willing to make to correct that, and the consequences of those decisions. Shout out to my colleagues at UBC Press for publishing this important book. (less)

Kathy on Goodreads wrote:

A good read. Very moving and heart wrenching regarding Down Syndrome. I learned a lot. Author was very forthright, about her relationship with her sister. I appreciated her honesty.

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