NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE is a slender book, but its size does not
matter. A book doesn't have to be weighty to contain a good story
or a powerful idea --- and author Christopher Reeve has both.
The first part of Reeve's story is familiar enough; he experienced
a fall from a horse that rendered him suddenly unable to even
breathe on his own due to a spinal
cord injury. His physical abilities nothing like the Superman we
have come to equate him to. However, Reeve's disability did not
overshadow his abilities. He eventually was able to return to work
and a productive life directing one movie and starring in
The unique part of the story would come later, and that is the
story that is chronicled in NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE.
After undergoing an initial period of rehabilitation for his
injuries, Reeve started on an aggressive regimen of physical
therapy, involving exercise and electrical stimulation. Unlike many
people with spinal cord injuries, Reeve had the financial resources
available to continue physical therapy after the period stipulated
by his health insurance policy.
Generally, people with spinal cord injuries may experience some
improvement shortly after their injuries, but little improvement
years after. By using a stationary bicycle and a specially designed
table allowing his body to tilt to an upright position, Reeve hoped
to regain some level of functionality, and perhaps even walk
The results so far have been extraordinary. Reeve recovered to an
extent that doctors thought would be impossible so long after his
injury; regaining feeling and sensation over a large part of his
body, and moving the index finger on his left hand independently.
These small steps show large amounts of progress for Reeve, and may
result in new thinking about treatments for others with spinal cord
injuries. This is a story that, by now, is almost familiar due to
the concentrated media coverage the media has devoted to Reeve's
However, this story is only a small part of NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE.
Only one chapter in the book is devoted to Reeve's recovery, with
the rest of the book discussing other issues such as the role of
humor in his life, and his experiences parenting his children. As
Reeve has spent considerable time and energy in
advocating for stem-cell research and insurance reform, there are
long stretches of the book that deal with his efforts to work with
members of Congress to reach these goals. And for such a thin book,
there is a surprising amount of information about Reeve and his
evolving religious beliefs --- including his wry retelling of two
visits from purported "faith healers".
There are two very common errors that people make when writing
about disability. The first is to treat people with disabilities as
objects of pity; passive victims in a world they never made. The
second is to treat people with disabilities as heroes; crediting
them for immense amounts of courage and valor for doing things that
others take for granted. Reeve, as you might expect, falls into
neither trap. NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE is written completely without
either corrosive self-pity or false vanity. In many ways, it is a
completely ordinary book --- and that may be its greatest strength.
Its greatest weakness, however, is that the book is perhaps too
small to tell Christopher Reeve's extraordinary story as it
deserves to be told.
Reviewed by Curtis Edmonds (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes movie reviews at http://www.txreviws.com/ on January 22, 2011
Nothing Is Impossible: Reflections on a New Life