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

Piece by Piece: How I Built My Life (No Instructions Required)
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Release Date
October 25, 2022
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David Aguilar was born missing part of one arm, a small detail that seemed to define his life and limit people’s ideas of who he was and who he could be. But in this funny and heartfelt memoir, David proves that he can throw out the rulebook and people’s expectations and maybe even make a difference in the world―and all with a sense of humor. At only nine years old, David built his first prosthesis from LEGO bricks, and since then he hasn’t stopped creating and thinking about how his inventions, born from a passion for building things, could fuel change and help others.

With a voice full of humor and heart, David tells his powerful story, of family and friendship, of heartbreak and loss, and ultimately of triumph and success, as he continues to dream big and build a life and a better world―piece by piece.

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LEGO Toys Save the Day
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David was born in the early 2000s in Andorra. His right arm was not fully formed, ending with truncated digits at elbow level. The family later found out this was Poland syndrome, which also affected his chest muscles. His parents and grandparents were glad that he was healthy, and vowed to support him and make sure he was a successful person. David tells his story about growing up, facing challenges, and makes it very clear that in his mind, he isn't "lacking" anything.

His parents did contact Dr. Doncel, whose daughter had a similarly formed arm, and were helped a lot by her support. His father often adapted things for him, like his bicycle, and the family installed a heated pool at their home so that he could swim. Where David often didn't find support was with his classmates. One girl, with whom he was very good friends, refused to go out with him because his arm freaked her out, and he was repeatedly bullied by a boy named Jordi. Because of his strong background of support, David was able to work through how these tough relationship made him feel. He decided early on to maintain a positive attitude, which shows through strongly in this memoir.
Good Points
At the age of nine, David, who was enthralled with Legos, built himself a prosthetic arm. It was a great accomplishment, but wasn't as useful as he hoped. He continued to work on it, and eventually made himself a prosthetic that worked very well. His father contacted the LEGO company, and David soon acchieved some fame for his work. This led to other opportunities, and as a young man, he has many choices available to him thanks to his ingenuity and work ethic.

The story isn't entirely linear, and we do see some of the same events repeatedly discussed. the chapters often end with a cliff hanger tone.

Readers who found Bowling's Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus interesting will be glad to pick up this nonfiction account of someone dealing with limb differences. Reeve's Born Just Right offers another view of a similar difference. I'm not sure that David himself would like the term "Disability Pride Month", which is celebrated in July, but there are not that many memoirs about teens and young adults who have overcome significant physical challenges, so this would be a great choice for readers who want to explore others' experiences and want something longer than Clark's Zion Unmatched.
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