Review: Dwarf by Tiffanie DiDonato with Rennie Dyball

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Title: Dwarf
Subtitle: How One Woman Fought for a Body--And a Life--She Was Never Supposed to Have
Author: Tiffanie DiDonato with Rennie Dyball
Pages: 272
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Plume (Penguin)
Pub. Date: November 27, 2012

I first saw this book while perusing the local Barnes & Noble and was instantly drawn to it. There's often a lot of inspiration to be found in learning about how someone has overcome struggles in their lives. I didn't realize it, but the author was on Good Morning America in 2008 discussing her experiences. (Not sure how I missed it since I have been a GMA aficionado for years). But anyway, here is the video if you're interested.

What is discussed in the video is the controversial bone lengthening procedures Tiffanie went through multiple times to add inches to her height. Her experiences with those surgeries were the meat of her memoir as she discusses why she chose that route, others' reactions, and how she endured it despite experiencing excruciating pain. This woman is brave, courageous, and independent -- that is for sure! While I completely relate to the desire for as much independence as possible, I could never have made the decisions she did medically because I would have been too terrified!

Now, her decisions also come with a high degree of skepticism and controversy because of a belief that she has rejected her dwarfism and sent the message that even very risky surgery is worth changing who she was born as. I can certainly understand this position as well, because the surgery comes with the risk of many complications and is not medically necessary, though I don't fault Tiffanie in her decision making either. I did find this memoir interesting, and I did find it inspirational, but I could also see where for some it might not be because it was about overcoming through drastic measures rather than learning to accept oneself just as is.

As for the writing itself, I did feel like certain parts seemed a little lengthy. In the first half of the book I also felt a couple messages became repetitive such as Tiffanie's never having realized that she was labeled a dwarf or that there was really anything different about her. I understood after the first couple examples. I also thought it delved in to the cheesy a couple times.

That being said, I also cried or became very teary eyed multiple times while reading this - once in public which I never do. One of the most powerful parts of this memoir were the relationships presented. Tiffanie's parents had starkly different reactions and responses to supporting their daughter. One side of the family completely rejected her, even, while the other supported her wholeheartedly. She talks a lot about a best friend she had throughout her adolescence who meant a lot to her. It was the dynamics of these interactions that I think got to me the most.

Dwarf  was an interesting read about how one person dealt with their struggles, but it also has a lot of controversy surrounding it and will make you question your own beliefs.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

If you go to and click on videos, you will find a few different clips from when Tiffanie appeared on his show to discuss this issue as well as another person who went through the same procedure and regrets it.


Meg @ A Bookish Affair said...

I think I saw this story on 20/20 or Good Morning America or some show like that as well. I can't believe how much she went through! Those procedures actually sound pretty horrible!

Zibilee said...

I know those procedures can be dangerous and painful, so I am amazed that she elected to do them so many times. This sounds like a really interesting book but the repetition might wear on me a little bit. It's interesting to me that Rennie could not learn to accept herself as she was. Amazing review today, Jenny!

Carin Siegfried said...

I so want to read this book! It occurs to me that the "rejection" of her dwarfism sounds similar to criticism from the deaf community towards people who get cochlear implants.

softdrink said...

I didn't even know there was such a thing as a bone lengthening procedure! It does sound awfully painful.

Juju at Tales of said...

This sounds totalllly fascinating. Fantastic review.

Jenners said...

I could see this being an interesting and fascinating story. I don't think I've ever read about this subject before.

Jennifer @ Mrs Q Book Addict said...

I haven't heard about this one but it does sound like an interesting memoir. Great review!

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