Book Review: If At Birth You Don’t Succeed

birthI first found out about Zach Anner when he was in the voting to be on a competition show that Oprah was having for her network to win your “OWN” show.  I remember telling my parents that there was a kid who was trying to get votes and he had cerebral palsy too. (Yes, I also have the sexiest of the palsies.) We rooted for him week after week and were so excited when he won (spoiler?) and watched all the episodes of Rollin’ With Zach when they were on OWN as well.  I hadn’t really kept up too much with what he did after that, although now that the book has mentioned a bunch of things I’ll have to go catch up on his YouTube channel soon.

I guess I have a bit of a different perspective reading this book as someone who also has CP.  I always was amazed by the stuff that I’d see Zach do (like surf!?) when his CP is more severe than mine. He has definitely opened up my eyes about how much more I could be doing and that it is probably more fear holding me back than the actual inability to do something.

There was one quote that I had to write down because I say something similar all the time… I wear a leg brace and always get “What did you do to your leg?” My Mom tells me it is rude to reply “Nothing” or “brain damage” so I usually just say “I have cerebral palsy”…

“At this time of night, I don’t have the heart or energy to tell them that there’s actually nothing wrong with my legs; it’s just a symptom of the brain damage I have.”

Zach also has a great sense of humor so reading this book was a lot of fun and you can totally picture what is going on as he is retelling the stories – although there are probably some things that you really don’t want to picture… but you will anyway.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

“Zach Anner is way more than an inspirational figure for anyone who has ever felt impossibly different: he’s also a great f**king writer. Wise and funny, with unfailing insight into the booby trap known as the human mind, you will hang on every word as you watch him turn his considerable intellectual gifts into a life worth envying. I like that this book has no genre, and neither does this special man.”—Lena Dunham

Comedian Zach Anner opens his frank and devilishly funny book, If at Birth You Don’t Succeed, with an admission: he botched his own birth. Two months early, underweight and under-prepared for life, he entered the world with cerebral palsy and an uncertain future. So how did this hairless mole-rat of a boy blossom into a viral internet sensation who’s hosted two travel shows, impressed Oprah, driven the Mars Rover, and inspired a John Mayer song? (It wasn’t “Your Body is a Wonderland.”)

Zach lives by the mantra: when life gives you wheelchair, make lemonade. Whether recounting a valiant childhood attempt to woo Cindy Crawford, encounters with zealous faith healers, or the time he crapped his pants mere feet from Dr. Phil, Zach shares his fumbles with unflinching honesty and characteristic charm. By his thirtieth birthday, Zach had grown into an adult with a career in entertainment, millions of fans, a loving family, and friends who would literally carry him up mountains.

If at Birth You Don’t Succeed is a hilariously irreverent and heartfelt memoir about finding your passion and your path even when it’s paved with epic misadventure. This is the unlikely but not unlucky story of a man who couldn’t safely open a bag of Skittles, but still became a fitness guru with fans around the world. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll fall in love with the Olive Garden all over again, and learn why cerebral palsy is, definitively, “the sexiest of the palsies.”

Praise for Zach Anner

“Zach makes you want to be a better person, with his humor and his heart and everything he’s had to deal with from the time he was born. I’ve never met anyone like him, and I’ve met a lot of people.” —Oprah Winfrey

“Zach Anner is a truly inspiring and hysterical human being with a warped sense of humor (and body). He’s also an exceptional writer and his memoir is an absolute joy.”—Rainn Wilson

“Zach Anner is the living definition of ‘giving better than he’s gotten.’ Life dealt him a difficult hand but he managed to beat the house with humor, heart, and a fearless punk attitude. Required reading.”—Patton Oswalt

“I love Zach Anner and I love his memoir. If everyone were a little more like Zach, the world may not be a better place, but it would be funnier place, which is a great step forward.”—Alexis Ohanian

“He’s a unique, creative kid with a smart, edgy sense of humor.”—Arsenio Hall

“I think I speak for everybody when I say…I want to see more of Zach.” —John Mayer

“Wonderful. . . Anner’s comedy is the peppy, uplifting sort you’d expect from someone who Oprah says ‘makes [her] want to be a better person,’ such as his elaborate Olive Garden metaphors for the nature of life. . . . Anner remarks wryly that being expected to act as an ambassador for the disabled ‘is a tightrope walk, which is hard on four wheels.’ Maybe so, but with this book, he makes it look easy.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Funny, empowering…An inspirational memoir with a seasoned, infectious sense of humor…[Anner’s book chronicles] his three decades of life (so far) with cerebral palsy, a permanent condition that hasn’t prevented him from living his dream as a comic, a media sensation, and a motivational speaker.”—Kirkus Reviews

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