Carly Findlay’s first book ‘Say Hello’ is in Carly’s words, “A memoir and manifesto on difference, acceptance, self-love and belief“.
Carly writes about her experiences growing into a proud disabled woman, foodie, and fashionista in Australia. While she doesn’t speak for all disabled people, she doesn’t pretend to, and this memoir is a powerful and overdue addition to the Australian dialogue.
Before the book came out, I wrote the following:
I am, as a rule, not the type of person who gets overly excited about many things. In the past few years I haven’t bought many books, as I rarely have the space or the funds where my local library can fill the gap. It is even more unusual for me to pre-order a book (except, of course, from my library).
This year has brought me an important exception: I am excited beyond words to read Carly Findlay’s “Say Hello”. Carly says it is “How I became my own fangirl: a memoir and manifesto on difference, acceptance, self-love and belief”.
I grew up with an undiagnosed genetic disorder that grew as I did. I didn’t know any adults who used the word “disabled” to describe themselves, or really any adults who knew how to explain why some people look different than others, can’t do all the same things, or can’t do them the same way. I pretended to be “normal” until it nearly killed me, quite literally.
I haven’t even read the book yet, and I already know that I wish the adults in my life had read it while I was a child. I know that I hope the people in my life will read it now that I am an adult.
I think you should read it. I think you should set it as your bookclub book. I think you should give it as a gift. I think you should request your library orders it.
As Janet Mock said, “When marginalised people gain voice and centre their own experiences, things begin changing.” This book is one of those things, and you have the chance to support it, and by extension, this conversation and progress.
I stand by those words. I loved it, and I am so glad that Carly wrote it. I don’t agree with everything that Carly says in ‘Say Hello’, but you know what? That’s the point. Disabled people are just as diverse as any other group of humans! And you know, I’m willing to bet that Carly will be right there at the front of the room cheering while the full range of disabled people step up and share their stories, while our allies use their power to amplify those voices.
My Bookclub’s book for February is ‘Say Hello’, so I thought I would share the discussion questions I drafted to kick of our discussion in case they would be useful to anyone else.
What was your first impression when you started reading ‘Say Hello’?
What was your favourite quote or section?
Did Carly change your opinion or perspective about anything?
What is the most exciting, interesting, or surprising thing you learnt from ‘Say Hello’?
Have you ever avoided a disabled person, or talked to them when you wouldn’t have otherwise talked to a stranger? After reading this book, how will you approach similar situations?
Carly talks about the value of fandom and finding your tribe in establishing confidence and self-love. Have you found those to be useful tools in your own life?
The internet has had a profound impact on the way that we communicate. How do you think this has impacted the way minority groups socialise and form community?
One of the final chapters of the book explains how exhausting the emotional labour expected of minorities is. Have you experienced this yourself?
Carly talks about the way unconscious bias limits employment opportunities for disabled people, and former Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes often talked about the “soft bigotry of low expectations”. What do you think non-disabled allies should be doing to reduce and remove these barriers from education systems and workplaces?
Where do you see microaggressions against visibly different individuals in your daily life?