A boy born without arms or legs tells his own amazing story!
Oto came home from school one day and told his parents he had signed up to play basketball. Most parents would be delighted; his were shocked. After all, Oto was born with no arms and no legs. But as this extraordinary young man has proven again and again, hard work, humor, versatility, and an upbeat approach to life are as valuable as limbs. No One's Perfect is his true account of how he slam-dunked one challenge after another, including basketball.
In a style purposefully meant to reach all ages, Oto writes about his unique childhood in Japan, a country that traditionally has shielded the disabled from the public eye. But hide Oto? Try hiding the sun! From his earliest days, he brought such a winning optimism into the crowds around him-curious kindergartners, skeptical members of the public school board, gaping passersby-that it was hard to resist him.
Now, as a young adult, Oto has taken on the work of establishing a "barrier-free" environment for others, in the government, in the media, in the eyes of all he meets. His book has sold over four million copies in Japan, where he has utterly changed the way people view the disabled.
Unsentimental and understated (you know the day-to-day routine can't have been as easy as he makes it sound), Oto's message nonetheless hits the heart. And though you need bravery and constant energy to overcome disabilities, you also need the understanding of those around you. Strong parents and unconventional teachers bucked the rigid status quo to give Oto a chance at a normal life, and he took it from there. Running races, learning to swim, even getting into fights, he made his classmates feel "He's one of us," so they were willing to join forces with him to help break down the barriers he faced.
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Prologue to the Book
April 6, 1976. Cherry trees in full blossom, soft sunlight. A gentle day.
A baby came squalling into the world. A bouncing baby boy. It was an ordinary birth to an ordinary couple. Except for one thing: the boy had no arms or legs.
Congenital tetra-amelia: the condition of being born without arms or legs. It wasn't due to a difficult birth, or the drug thalidomide, whose harmful effects were in the news at the time. The cause in my case is still unknown. For whatever reason, I arrived with an ultra-individual appearance that startled people. How many people get a shocked reaction just by being born? Probably only Momotaro, the fairytale boy who was found inside a peach, and me.
A birth is supposed to be followed by the joyful moment when mother and child first see each other's faces. But my father thought over what might happen. If my mother found out right after the delivery, before she'd had any chance to recover her strength, wouldn't the shock be too much for her? As she lay in bed, he said to her, "I'm afraid you can't see the baby right away--he's a little weak."
Two or three days passed. My father resolved to keep the facts hidden until my mother was fully recovered. It must have been a lonely struggle. It took strength.
"They say you can't see him for a little while longer because he has severe jaundice," he told her.
It's only very recently that concepts like "informed consent" have begun to be taken up in Japan. The situation back then, in 1976, was that a doctor's word was final. Even though it was their own health and happiness at stake, patients had no choice but to leave everything to their physician. And so my father took the stance that he was simply following the doctors' orders.
Although she hadn't wondered what was going on at first, naturally my mother was worried and perplexed when she still wasn't allowed to see her own child after a week. She realized something serious must have happened, but at the same time there was an atmosphere that made it hard for her to come right out and ask anything. Of course she wanted to see her son, but she sensed this "something." She put her trust in my father.
The day of our first meeting arrived at last. Three weeks had gone by since I was born. On the day before she came to see me, my mother had been told that the reason she hadn't been allowed to see her son was not because of jaundice, but because of a disability. My father couldn't bring himself to tell her the exact nature of the disability, but what he did tell her was enough for my mother. And she prepared herself.
The hospital, too, had done what it could to get ready. An empty bed had been made available in case she fainted on the spot. The tension grew, for my father and the staff, and for my mother.
The big moment arrived, but not in the way people had expected. The words that burst from my mother's lips were "He's adorable." All the fears that she might get hysterical or keel over turned out to be unnecessary. For nearly a month, she hadn't been able to see the baby she'd given birth to. The joy of seeing her child at last was greater than the shock of his missing arms and legs.
I think the success of this first encounter was especially meaningful. First impressions tend to stick. Sometimes you're still carrying them as baggage years later. And when it's a parent and child, that meeting is a profoundly important one.
The first emotion my mother felt toward me was not shock or sadness, it was joy.
At the age of three weeks, I was born at last.From the Author:
Quotes from Reader-Response Cards
"A wonderfully honest story and a terrific guy. Thanks!"--American, 61
"Bless him for being so brave."--Italian, 43
"A great book. I read it all in three hours. It made me cry."--Canadian, 29
"Hats off to Ototake-san!"--Indian, 25
"I'm recommending it to everyone."--American, 49
"Honest, witty, and intelligent."--Singaporean, 45
"Aroused in me compassion, amazement, laughter and tears."--American, 42
"Incredible book."--American, 48
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Book Description Kodansha USA, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P114770027648