Piece by Piece: How I Built My Life (No Instructions Required)

Amazon Crossing. Oct. 2022. 304p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781662504273.
Gr 5-8–David Aguilar made headlines as the kid who constructed his own prosthetic arm out of LEGO, but his story begins long before that. He writes of his birth; his family was surprised that he was born without a right forearm. Aguilar shares stories of growing up different from his peers, of bullying, and finding ways to fit in and live a normal life. The question of what is normal runs throughout the book. He asks readers at the outset to count their fingers. “What do you feel when you’re missing the eleventh finger?” Aguilar insists that he isn’t missing anything more than that eleventh finger; he is different, not disabled. He also writes of how he created his first prosthesis as a way of feeling more normal, more symmetrical, perhaps illustrating just how complicated and personal questions of identity can be. Readers will cheer for Aguilar and relate to him as he shares conversational stories about growing up, playing sports, and struggling with school. Family is at the heart of his story, and the endless support and advocacy of his parents, in particular, make this a sweet and uplifting story.
VERDICT Young readers will identify with this creative young person and will question society’s definition of “normal.” A strong choice for most collections.

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