My Left Foot, excerpt from

Brown, Christy

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Autobiography

Annotated by:
Squier, Harriet
  • Date of entry: Jan-11-1999
  • Last revised: Aug-21-2006


In this short excerpt [from the early section of the book, describing his birth, family, and early childhood], Brown eloquently describes his difficult birth, the hopelessness of his doctors, and the persistent love of his family, especially of his mother. He relates in detail that profound moment when, at age five, he inexplicably grabbed a piece of chalk from his sister’s hand with his left foot and, with great difficulty and incredulity, traced the letter A on a piece of slate. For the first time, his family knew for sure that his intellect was intact. And for the first time, he could start to communicate with them.


Many people approach profound disfigurement and disability with great trepidation. This short excerpt, with its fine writing and very human and engaging narrator, quickly engages the reader. Suddenly we have access to the person inside the disfigured body and are eager to know this person better. While this short excerpt is immensely moving and effective, especially in settings where reading longer works isn’t possible, the entire book should serve well in contexts where more in-depth reading is desired.


Primary Source

Ordinary Lives: Voices of Disability and Disease



Place Published

Cambridge, Mass.




Irving Kenneth Zola

Page Count