Falling for Myself
Wolsak & Wynn Publishers Ltd.
320 pages | ISBN 978-1-989496-03-9
**Finalist for the 2021 Hamilton Literary Award for Non-fiction**
In this searing and seriously funny memoir Dorothy Ellen Palmer falls down, a lot, and spends a lifetime learning to appreciate it. Born with congenital anomalies in both feet, then called birth defects, she was adopted as a toddler by a wounded 1950s family who had no idea how to handle the tangled complexities of adoption and disability. From repeated childhood surgeries to an activist awakening at university to decades as a feminist teacher, mom, improv coach and unionist, she tried to hide being different. But now, in this book, she's standing proud with her walker and sharing her journey. With savvy comic timing that spares no one, not even herself, Palmer takes on Tiny Tim, shoe shopping, adult diapers, childhood sexual abuse, finding her birth parents, ableism and ageism. In Falling for Myself, she reckons with her past and with everyone's future, and allows herself to fall and get up and fall again, knees bloody, but determined to seek Disability Justice, to insist we all be seen, heard, included and valued for who we are.
"Dorothy Ellen Palmer writes to 'channel shame into solidarity, anger into analysis, denial into delight and loss into love,' and this book – full of insight and wild humour, fierce activism and vital intersectional analysis – marks her stellar success. She calls all of us to imagine a world beyond the limits of ableism and a movement where all of us have room to move." – Sonya Huber, author of Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Essays from a Nervous System
Falling For Myself: A Memoir (Monica Miller, SubTerrain, Summer 2020)
"A highly readable, sharp memoir that will hopefully clear a wide trail for more disabled voices to shine."
REVIEWS: vol 7, issue 2 (Neil Price, Humber Literary Review, 28/12/2019)
"While memoirs that present stories of overcoming odds often slip into maudlin predictability, Falling for Myself never feels contrived or set up to induce what Palmer calls 'inspiration porn.' Instead, her story is really about a personal journey of learning and never becomes overly preachy or didactic."
Dorothy Ellen Palmer’s new extraordinary memoir, Falling for Myself, is a tale of an ordinary girl (K. J. Aiello, The Globe and Mail, 17/12/2019)
A review of Dorothy's memoir.
Episode 3 | Dorothy Palmer (Claire Tacon, "Parallel Careers," The New Quarterly, 29/03/2021)
"I think the idea of an emerging writer only being someone barely emerged from puberty is a problem. Some 25% of Canada is over 65. Where are our first time senior writers?"
Managing Spoons in 2020, featuring Dorothy Ellen Palmer (Spoonie Authors Network blog, 08/10/2020)
Dorothy discusses how she manages her time and energy in 2020.
How Dorothy Ellen Palmer wrote a memoir about being in love with herself and her abilities (The Next Chapter, 13/03/2020)
"I wasn't the problem, ableism was the problem, inaccessibility was the problem and that I didn't have to be ashamed anymore."
E169 with DOROTHY ELLEN PALMER (Jamie Tennant, Get Lit, 13/02/2020)
An extremely passionate and eye-opening interview with Dorothy.
Dorothy Ellen Palmer is disabled, but don’t call her new book inspiration porn (Sue Carter, the Toronto Star, 28/11/2019)
A wonderful interview with Dorothy Palmer.
"Setting the Secrets Free, Set Me Free of Them" Dorothy Ellen Palmer Finds Liberation Through Humour in Her New Memoir (Open Book, 12/11/2019)
"In the end, I came to the conclusion that what has hurt me the most is secrets."
Books for International Women's Day (All Lit Up, 08/03/2021)
Dorothy's book makes All Lit Up's list of Books for International Women's Day
What my scooter taught me about barriers (Dorothy Ellen Palmer, Broadview Magazine, 10/07/2020)
Dorothy pens another thoughtful, funny and challenging article about how social justice for disabled people is tied to their ability to move through the world.
The CBC Books summer reading list: 40 Canadian books to read this season (CBC Books, 30/06/2020)
Dorothy's memoir makes the list of 40 Canadian books to read this summer.
20 moving Canadian memoirs to read right now (CBC Books, 30/04/2020)
Dorothy's book is listed on 20 moving Canadian memoirs to read right now.
Amid COVID-19, making end-of-life decisions lessened my fears (Dorothy Ellen Palmer, Broadview Magazine, 21/04/2020)
Another wise and deeply thoughtful column from Dorothy Ellen Palmer on making end-of-life decisions during COVID-19.
How I’m practicing community care in isolation (Dorothy Ellen Palmer, Broadview Magazine, 02/04/2020)
"To save the most lives, we will need to replace self-reliance with relying on each other."
Kept Out is Kept Down: Writing Retreats and the Indefensible Retreat of Canlit (Dorothy Ellen Palmer, All Lit Up, 04/03/2020)
Dorothy shares some fierce truths in this piece on the inaccessibility of writing retreats.
There is no excuse for taking the life of a disabled person (Dorothy Ellen Palmer, Broadview, 02/03/2020)
Dorothy pens an article raising awareness about filicide.
Memoirs of love: Six-Minute Memoir features nine speakers riffing on subject of love (Jeff Mahoney, the Hamilton Spectator, 21/02/2020)
Dorothy participates in the six-minute memoir.
Alumna explores life’s journey in 'Falling' (Kathryn Kinahan, Western News, 21/01/2020)
"Once I had set myself free of the secrets, they couldn’t hurt me any longer."
New titles from Hamilton authors (Jeff Mahoney, The Hamilton Spectator, 21/01/2020)
"An enormously powerful, often harrowing, just as often hilarious, odyssey through the experiences of remarkable woman and her adaptation to and coming to terms with a congenital anomaly in her both her feet."
A Grateful, Pay-it-Forward Diverse Booklist (Dorothy Ellen Palmer, 49th Shelf, 12/12/2019)
Dorothy puts together a pay-it-forward list of diverse books and authors.
Pro bookworms share their favourite biographies and memoirs of 2019 (Truc Nguyen, CBC Books, 12/12/2019)
"Everyone should read this book and get inspired to help make space for vulnerable communities so that each of us is treated with dignity and respect."
Other Dives into Other Lives (Kerry Clare, Pickle Me This, 11/12/2019)
"Palmer is fierce, and she is furious, justifiably so, but she is also witty, generous, a born storyteller, and she has created a fascinating and most compelling book."
Dorothy Ellen Palmer is disabled, but don’t call her new book inspiration porn (Sue Carter, The Toronto Star, 28/11/2019)
"[The title] serve[s] a double purpose. It refers to a succession of skinned, bloody knees and constant tumbles, but also to a woman finding her place in the world"
Another Story Bookshop 2019 Holiday Gift List (Another Story Bookshop newsletter, November 2019)
Dorothy's memoir makes Another Story's holiday gift guide list!
Great Companions: Because Two Books Are Better than One (Kerry Clare, 49th Shelf, 05/09/2019)
Dorothy's book is chosen as a great companion read for In My Own Moccasins by Helen Knott.
Most Anticipated: 2019 Fall Nonfiction Preview (49th Shelf, 29/08/2019)
Dorothy's memoir makes the list of most anticipated fall titles.
About the Author
Dorothy Ellen Palmer is a disabled senior writer, accessibility consultant, and retired high school drama teacher and union activist. She grew up in suburban Toronto, and spent childhood summers at a three-generation cottage near Fenelon Falls.
For three decades, she worked in three provinces as a high school English/Drama teacher, teaching on a Mennonite Colony, a four-room schoolhouse, an adult learning centre attached to a prison, and a highly diverse new high school in Pickering. Elected to her union executive each year for fifteen years, she created staff and student workshops to fight bullying, racism, sexism, sexual harassment, and homophobia.
Dorothy sits on the Accessibility Advisory Board of the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD) and is an executive board member for the Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs (CCWWP) where she writes a monthly column on disability in CanLit for the newsletter.
Her work has appeared in: REFUSE, Wordgathering, Alt-Minds, All Lit Up, Don't Talk to Me About Love, Little Fiction Big Truths, 49th Shelf and Open Book. Her first novel, When Fenelon Falls, features a disabled teen protagonist in the Woodstock-Moonwalk summer of 1969. She lives in Burlington, Ontario, and can always be found tweeting @depalm.