Released October 1, 2019 from UBC Press: A World Without Martha: A Memoir of Sisters, Disability, and Difference is a book-length account of the impact of my sister’s institutionalization for intellectual disability on my sister, my family, and myself, contextualized through more than five decades of policy and social responses to developmental disabilities.
Praise for A World Without Martha
“Victoria Freeman launches her profoundly honest and probing memoir about the cascade of lifelong effects of the institutionalization of her Down Syndrome sister in the early 1960s. Quite simply a jaw-dropping book no one other than Victoria could have written. A World without Martha: A Memoir of Sisters, Disability, and Difference is gripping, gutting, mind-deepening and heart-stretching. Rollercoaster for every reader untangling how to be human.”
MARGARET CHRISTAKOS, Author of Her Paraphernalia, On Motherlines, Sex, Blood, Loss & Selfies
“Victoria and I stayed in touch because my baby brother Robert disappeared to an institution, just like Martha. We ended years of isolation and shared our pain, anger, grief … with other sisters – and brothers. We were all overpowered and harmed by the same poisonous secret. By breaking the silence, we broke its evil spell. I remember feeling so cleansed after a day we talked together. Victoria’s book courageously clears the air – once and for all. First, she told this story to herself – painfully challenging her own past actions and assumptions. And now she has dared to tell the world.”
MARILYN DOLMAGE, Disability Activist and Litigation Guardian for Marie Slark and Pat Seth, Huronia Class Action
“Beautifully written, deeply personal yet equally accessible, this memoir by Victoria Freeman takes us on a journey of discovery. It weaves together the pain, loss, and long road to healing of one family with the powerful social forces that led to the institutionalization of Martha Freeman and so many other children with disabilities, and, finally, the slow movement to return them to a valued place in society. A World without Martha is a painful, powerful, and ultimately hopeful story that will help the reader understand why we segregate some members of society, the terrible impact on them and their families, and what it means to be human.”
JOHN GUIDO, long-time member of L’Arche Daybreak and L’Arche Toronto, and Outreach Coordinator for L’Arche Canada
“Freeman’s candid account illuminates the complex and far-reaching effects of institutionalization in the family and brings insight to essential human concerns including love, abandonment, and acceptance. It makes an important contribution to our understanding of families’ experiences of separation and loss due to designations of ‘difference.’”
MADELINE BURGHARDT, author of Broken: Institutions, Families, and the Construction of Intellectual Disability
“Most memoirs written about people born with Down Syndrome have been authored by family members, often in a reassuring manner intended to destigmatize the condition for the general public. The tone of this book is strikingly different. It is full of regret, ambivalence, and conflict. There is no denying the honesty embedded in the author’s raw, unvarnished reflections of her family’s missed opportunities of acceptance and reconciliation.”
DAVID WRIGHT, author of Downs: The History of a Disability
“This is a raw, honest, and candid account of how institutional and ideological ableism – institutionalization and the separation of siblings as well as stigmatization, shame,
and marginalization – impacts individuals, families, and their relationships in tragic, shattering, and unpredictable ways.”
PATRICIA DOUGLAS, Disability Studies, Faculty of Education, Brandon University
The Next Chapter, CBC Radio, Interviewed by host Shelagh Rogers, broadcast date TBA.
Reviews: This Magazine
Distant Relations: How My Ancestors Colonized North America (McClelland & Stewart, 2000; Steerforth Press (USA), 2002), 535 pages.
Shortlist finalist for the 2000 Writers’ Trust Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing.
One of NOW Magazine’s Top Ten books for 2000.
• American Historical Review
• The Globe and Mail
• The Toronto Star
• The Beaver
• Anishinabek News, etc.
Edited Collections and Proceedings
Co-editor, with Daphne Marlatt, Betsy Warland, and Barbara Pulling, In the Feminine: Women and Words/Les femmes et les mots Conference Proceedings (Edmonton: Longspoon Press, 1986)