Keah BrownA book review by Rev. Peter Heide on “The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love with Me” by Keah Brown

Rev. Peter Heide

Rev. Peter Heide

At first, the title of this book seems presumptive, but I have come to realize that this is the courtship of one person learning to love herself amid a world that does not want to love her.

Keah Brown, a journalist, has filled this book with her essays. In each standalone essay, Ms. Brown addresses a particular issue of life as a black woman living with Cerebral Palsy in a mostly able-bodied white America. She discusses the depression that comes from internalizing the “idealized body” of the able-bodied world we live in. She explores the self-loathing that can kill when one allows the able-bodied world to dictate one’s image upon oneself when our bodies can never “measure up”. She considers the challenges of dating, of feeling loved and accepted.

In “You Can’t cure me. I Promise it’s Fine.”, the reader is challenged by how prayer can be an abusive tool that makes claims on the faithfulness of the disabled and that person’s willingness to trust in the power of God to heal. As Ms. Brown illustrates the difference between the able-bodied and the dis-abled, she also spotlights how this kind of faith/prayer isolates, demeans, and dehumanizes the person living with a disability.

Some issues are addressed multiple times which was a little exasperating until I was reminded of the similarity to reading Biblical stories: the more space given to any story raises the importance of the subject. Consider the amount of space that Nebuchadnezzar receives in an encyclopedia and then look at the space he gets in Scripture. Or maybe the story of Peter and Cornelius might be helpful. Outside the Bible no space is given it, but Scripture reports the story of the vision of the sheet coming down from heaven with unclean foods upon it three times. Such is the importance of these repeated themes.

The essay format of this book lends itself to congregation discussion.