Book review for Zach Anner's If At Birth You Don't Succeed

Book Review: If At Birth You Don’t Succeed by Zach Anner

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Hilarious yet heartfelt just begins to describe Zach Anner’s memoir If At Birth You Don’t Succeed. The author’s name may sound familiar. Anner did convince many cerebral palsy remains “the sexiest of the palsies.” A triumph achieved back in 2010.   

Said year, 2010, Zach Anner entered the national spotlight. His entry video to win a show on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) went viral. A victorious Anner ended up hosting the travel show Rollin’ with Zach. Although cancelled after a single season, Anner’s adventures only begun.

These aforementioned adventures vary from professional to personal. Regardless categorization, throughout If At Birth You Don’t Succeed Anner details each fairly candidly. Moreover he tells his stories in a fashion exclusively Zach Anner.     


Following the short lived Rollin’ With Zach, Anner maintained his public presence through Youtube videos.  Watch a Zach Anner video and you quickly notice his unique personality. A disposition welcoming to cameras, but I imagine challenging to get across via written format. Nonetheless Anner met the challenge, thriving!

Colorful imagery remained one way Anner achieved this. For example, take the description he uses to describe his cerebral palsy during the introduction “… Well, Why Don’t I Start?,”

“As a result of my untimely birth, I have cerebral palsy, which I guess, if you wanna get technical about it, is a neurological condition that can affect motor skills, speech, and mobility to varying degrees. In my case, it means my movements resemble that of a marionette whose puppeteer is having passionate maritals behind the little red curtain.”

Such imaginative descriptions risk sounding overboard penned by a different author. Anner however displays mastery as a wordsmith. He strikes great balance between creative descriptors and storytelling. A truth reading chapter two “How to Win a Television Show” supports.

The 13-page chapter essentially recounts an occasion when Anner crapped himself while on set. The embarrassing moment becomes an epic saga how he retells the tale. Truly a written masterpiece!   


To clarify, I am calling the particular chapter a masterpiece. In the book’s entirety I found a few imperfections. Nothing ruining the read, still I consider the flaws worth mentioning.

Amidst If At Birth You Don’t Succeed certain jokes fell flat to me. More concerning, these jokes featured self-depreciating humor.  Like in Chapter 4 “Comics Without Relief” Anner highlights humor’s importance writing, “Over the years, I’ve learned that a sense of humor is the only skill that allows you to turn sucking at life into a career.”

Perhaps I am taking Anner’s words too literally. To me though, the joke equates CP to sucking at life. Not exactly a positive correlation! Again, maybe I simply need to take a chill pill.

Elsewhere I wish Anner added further information. Chapter 13, “Have a Little Faith” comes to mind. Anner discusses his religion show, also titled Have A Little Faith, on Rainn Wilson’s SoulPancake Youtube channel. Unfortunately, the book fails to share the story behind the two parties connecting. Origins I am curious to learn.                


Who knows?  Feasibly Anner and his editors cut the SoulPancake backstory to make room for greater lessons. If At Birth You Don’t Succeed does contain multiple valuable takeaways.

Possibly the most valuable takeaway encompasses Anner’s quest to find love. Much inside the book involves this search. In Chapter 12 “With Apologies to Gene Shalit,” Anner even revisits his first experience manscaping.

Some might react, shouting “TMI dude!” Meanwhile, I think Anner handled the subject and similar private issues quite tastefully. Altogether the stories serve a purpose. As he reflects amid chapter 14 “The Most Magical Life On Earth,” “Since I’ve come into the public eye, the most discouraging sentiment I hear echoed from people with disabilities is that they have given up hope on finding love or a partner.”

To those given up hope If At Birth You Don’t Succeed supplies encouragement to rethink your hopelessness. Remaining a chronic single myself, the tales spoke to me. Prior to reading Anner’s memoir, I never deemed love an individual impossibility, I kept faithful, believing I will eventually meet my special someone. Nevertheless I occasionally wondered “What if I am wrong? What if I am just magically wishing?” Reading If At Birth You Don’t Succeed reassured me, silencing my internal doubts.        

If At Birth You Don’t Succeed by Zach Anner Final Verdict

Without a doubt the best way to determine whether you would enjoy If At Birth You Don’t Succeed stands watching Zach Anner’s Youtube videos. He writes in a fashion which echoes his unique personality. So if you enjoy Anner’s videos, you should enjoy his memoir.

With that said, the book possesses a few imperfections. At times I questioned Anner’s self-depreciating humor. Plus certain areas I wanted more details. These flaws prove minor though, outshined by the book’s multiple valuable takeaways. For these reasons I highly recommend If At Birth You Don’t Succeed by Zach Anner.

By chance you too already read If At Birth You Don’t Succeed, add your input. Give your thoughts below via a comment. I look forward to comparing opinions.

Until next time, remember. Do not blend in. Blend out!


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