Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law, by Haben Girma

Featured in The Wall Street Journal, People, and on The TODAY Show. A New York Times “New & Noteworthy” Pick, and an O Magazine “Book of the Month” favorite.

The book cover shows Haben Girma in profile, confidently facing forward in a blue dress. The background is a warm red, and white text over the bottom half of the image says, ‘Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law. Haben Girma.’

The incredible life story of Haben Girma, the first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School, and her amazing journey from isolation to the world stage.

Haben grew up spending summers with her family in the enchanting Eritrean city of Asmara. There, she discovered courage as she faced off against a bull she couldn’t see, and found in herself an abiding strength as she absorbed her parents’ harrowing experiences during Eritrea’s thirty-year war with Ethiopia. Their refugee story inspired her to embark on a quest for knowledge, traveling the world in search of the secret to belonging. She explored numerous fascinating places, including Mali, where she helped build a school under the scorching Saharan sun. Her many adventures over the years range from the hair-raising to the hilarious.

Haben defines disability as an opportunity for innovation. She learned non-visual techniques for everything from dancing salsa to handling an electric saw. She developed a text-to-braille communication system that created an exciting new way to connect with people. Haben pioneered her way through obstacles, graduated from Harvard Law, and now uses her talents to advocate for people with disabilities.

Haben takes readers through a thrilling game of blind hide-and-seek in Louisiana, a treacherous climb up an iceberg in Alaska, and a magical moment with President Obama at The White House. Warm, funny, thoughtful, and uplifting, this captivating memoir is a testament to one woman’s determination to find the keys to connection.

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Praise

“A stirring memoir of love and resilience. Haben proves there are no limits for living joyously in the world. A fierce, glorious advocate for equal opportunity, she demonstrates that accessibility for all benefits all. Her memoir is a soul-inspiring gift.”

– Jewell Parker Rhodes, New York Times bestselling author of Ghost Boys

“Reading Haben’s story moved me in a way I didn’t think was possible. She’s a gifted writer, and her story will teach you about strength, perseverance, and determination. This is a strong reminder to embrace the unknown, to stand up for yourself, and to never give up.”

– Mashal Waqar, co-founder and COO, The Tempest

“Extraordinary…Haben’s is a story of inspiration-and new American patriotism. She gives all of us fresh strength and hope.”

– Lorene Cary, author of Black Ice and founder of Art Sanctuary

“With wit and passion, Haben, a disability rights lawyer, public speaker, and the first Deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law, takes readers through her often unaccommodating world…This is a heartwarming memoir of a woman who champions access and dignity for all.”

– Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“Warmhearted and optimistic, [HABEN] celebrates personal courage and triumph as well as the unlimited potential of those whose real disability is living in a society that too often does not make accommodations for their physical impairments. An inspiring and illuminating memoir.”

– Kirkus

This autobiography by a millennial Helen Keller teems with grace and grit.

– O Magazine

Riveting…[an] often hilarious and utterly inspiring memoir.

– BookPage (starred review)

Girma…is a talented narrator who captures defining moments in her life in a series of lyrical cameos. She writes with remarkable assurance and yet with a lightness of touch when tackling difficult issues. [A] profoundly important memoir.

– The Times

The first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law, Girma looks back on an Eritrean-American childhood that taught her to overcome obstacles and recounts her subsequent career fighting for people with disabilities.

– The New York Times

While Haben is undeniably funny, positive, and driven, Haben is a serious book that deals with serious issues. Yes, she brings humor to many interactions, but her mission in life is not an easy one: Her work and her book both center on her fundamental goal in life: Inclusion.

– Bustle

Haben Girma doesn’t believe in setting limits.

– People

Ms. Girma has devoted her life to subverting the presumption that disability is a tragedy.

– Wall Street Journal

Gently powerful…vivid…This really is just the beginning of what is likely to be a long and fascinating story.

– Forbes

Excerpt

Read an excerpt from the book