Book Review- Determination: What I'm All About by Denise Ghizzone

Book Review: Determination: What I’m All About by Denise Ghizzone

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Cerebral palsy manifests differently per person diagnosed with the condition. This fact makes CP memoirs especially interesting to read. Certain insights resonate with you while others become lessons learned. Exactly my experience reading Determination: What I’m All About by Denise Ghizzone!

As a cerebral palsy advocate, I am eager to learn about my CP peers’ lives. I strongly believe the wisest CP advocates know alone they cannot possess all the answers.  So seeking wisdom I turned to Denise Ghizzone’s Determination: What I’m All About.

Like A Bad WIFI Connection

The front cover for Denise Ghizzone's Determination: What I'm All AboutThe knowledge I sought Determination: What I’m All About encompassed. Ghizzone supplied a glimpse into nonverbal life. She tells in the chapter “My New Voice” how she needed to spell certain words wrong to achieve correct pronunciation. “I had to spell some of the words wrong to get the speech pac to say them right. Such as my name Denise, I had to spell it like this Dennice for the speech pac to say it right.”

Purposely misspelling your name, yikes! What an annoyance! Nevertheless Ghizzone appeared unfazed. Rather she commented towards the chapter’s end, “It was nice hearing my thoughts being expressed by an audible voice.”

Her aforementioned remark left a lasting impression on me. Previously I never consciously contemplated the procedure transforming my internal thoughts to spoken words. Instead I enjoyed the ability to take such sensation for granted. Thanks to Ghizzone I now appreciate the capability to vocalize my opinions and feelings. More importantly, I am increasingly able to empathize alongside those nonverbal.

Although Determination: What I’m All About contained the perspectives I desired, patience stood a must. The book resembled a poor WIFI connection, one which keeps disconnecting and re-connecting. You retain access to the Internet. Yet websites load slowly or require an entire reload. Problems regarding the book’s writing and editing caused the metaphorical disruptions.

First Round

Opposed to a finished product, Denise Ghizzone’s Determination: What I’m All About honestly reads similar to an in-progress manuscript. Multiple factors cement my view. Earlier I discussed the chapter, “My New Voice.” Ghizzone dedicates the whole chapter to her speech pac. Then she starts the next chapter “My Homemade Alphabet” writing “I am unable to talk.”

“Yes. I know that from the previous chapter.” I could not avoid thinking. Some additional editing would enable the chapters to flow together better. Said edits might further solidify the story Ghizzone wished to tell. Perhaps establish the realization the chapter “My Hometown” lacks any real significance. You can eliminate “My Hometown” without hurting the overall book. I will actually argue removing the chapter enhances the read, improving the read’s focus.

These criticisms I raise minus malice. Most I received myself after showing my CP memoir Off Balanced’s first completed draft to beta readers. One even stated “This reads like a written medical history.” Not too complimentary! However the feedback proved vital to my rewrite. Opposing publishing a book aimlessly discussing my first 22 years living with cerebral palsy, I found concentration. I detailed my emotional journey from embarrassment to embrace over CP.

Surely you may deem the above an opportunistic self-promotional plug. Forgive me. I began referencing Off Balanced holding genuine intentions, demonstrating the complexity writing and publishing a book entails. Ghizzone obviously put forth much effort writing Determination: What I’m All About. Still a bit extra remained necessary to make the book feel done.


Considering Determination: What I’m All About’s Amazon sales page credits an editor and designer I wonder where the mishaps occurred. I recall authors at an author event I attended distinguishing different editor types. A copyeditor hunts down items like spelling and grammar errors. Meanwhile a line editor pinpoints the areas I called out. I am guessing Ghizzone used a copyeditor.

Relating to the designer credit, I am curious the work involved. Designing page layout? Cover design? I mention since I purchased and read the Kindle version. Kindle books usually feature an interactive table of contents. An element Determination: What I’m All About misses, furthering the incompleteness highlighted prior.

A visual look showing where the table of contents for Determination: What I'm All About should be.

A side by side comparison between Determination: What I’m All About by Denise Ghizzone and Juana Ortiz’s I Made It shows where the interactive table of contents should sit.

Certainly, the missing interactive table of contents simply represents a small inconvenience. Nonetheless when adding in my other critiques, the situation compounds. Eventually the reader probably loses interest.

Determination: What I’m All About Final Verdict

If you seek to understand life with cerebral palsy from someone nonverbal who uses a wheelchair, Determination: What I’m All About by Denise Ghizzone supplies helpful insights. Unfortunately, obtaining those involves patience. Working through chapters which could better flow together and at least one I argue fails to enhance the read.

My Determination: What I’m All About by Denise Ghizzone Rating: 2.5 stars (out of five)

*Reminder: In fairness to Denise Ghizzone I want to emphasize I am a single reader. At the time I wrote this review Determination: What I’m All About’s Amazon sales page contained four Amazon reader reviews, each five stars. I spoke here giving my honest opinion. Consider reading Determination: What I’m All About and judging yourself.

**Disclaimer: Links to Amazon are affiliated with the Amazon LLC Associate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to 

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