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Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite
“Loss and grief and my long and winding road to self-acceptance is the essence of Joy Ride, for it's about the power a mind stuck in denial can wield over a being, the ability of a body to survive years of self-inflicted abuse, and the unwavering tenacity of a spirit that knows it’s lucky to be alive.”
At the beginning of Joy Ride: My One-Legged Journey to Self-Acceptance, Karen Witt Daly tells readers how she had her right leg amputated due to bone cancer in 1962. She depicted how one’s family dealt with difficulties back then－tacit acceptance and moving forward. But her refusal to “acknowledge the reality that I had lost a leg” shows us her fear and vulnerability right away, the coping mechanism of her mind that led to unhealthy behavior patterns. Self-acceptance is something that everyone struggles and empathizes with at different levels. Sympathy from others is contextually good. However, it can also be a burden and evoke shame when one thinks that he or she receives it too often. In Karen’s case, particularly in her teen years, I feel that this is how she saw it at the time.
Through a straightforward and frank narrative, Karen’s journey to her own self-acceptance gives us invaluable life lessons that we can learn and wisdom that we can emulate. Even though I’m ambivalent about analyzing dreams, her time in the dance classes is fascinating, particularly the Authentic Movement classes. The way Karen described the dances is very liberating, and I’m glad that she included some pictures of them. It made me re-evaluate my limited understanding of the dance art form and of who dancers should be physically. Simply put, Joy Ride is a commendable and thought-provoking read in a refreshing way.