What do you like and/ or dislike about (the novel) The Story of My Life by Helen Keller?  

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The Story of My Life by Helen Keller is an autobiographical account of Helen's early years. It includes descriptions by and letters from her teachers, mentors and friends in order to give a full account of those years without detracting from or deliberating on the very emotional turmoil that filled some of those years.

The Story of My Life is NOT a novel as it is a true-life account whereas a novel is a fictitious account but with many realistic elements - thus making it believable.

Whilst The Story of My Life is motivational and inspiring some have criticized it for the formal language that would normally not accompany a life story. Helen's style is a result of her access to language being mainly through the written word as conversation and thus the ability to use a conversational tone would obviously have escaped her understanding.

Helen has also been criticized for her recounting in her book of her efforts to be "normal" rather than how she manages her disabilities. Her life is spent striving to be just like a sighted, hearing and speaking person which of course she is not. This however is the whole point:

 I try to make the light in others’ eyes my sun, the music in others’ ears my symphony, the smile on others’ lips my happiness.

Every person is "normal" within the context of  his or her own life and "normal" is a relative word. Helen strived for  a means to communicate, a better education, success, achievement and to help others who face the same - or even a fraction of  her - difficulties. It highlights the ignorance of those who do not suffer any disabilities to suggest that her life story should be one about her differences from others rather than her similarities and her desires for exactly the same things as everyone else.

From a personal perspective, I cannot fault the book. It is not meant to be a piece of literature that is to be studied for its artistic merit or contribution to literary styles nor is it meant to make the reader feel sorry for someone so afflicted that we would have understood if she had disappeared into oblivion, the task too much to expect!  The amazing thing about The Story of My Life is that it has the capacity to appeal to everyone. It is not motivational only for those who have disabilities but for those who have the "gift" and yet do not make the most of it.

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