What Nobody Sees


Written by Anne-Pia Nygård, translated by Tracy and Tim Rishton, illustrations by Harald Nygård

An inspiring story of one girl’s struggle against disability.

“The last thing she had thought was that she would have a future that was about illness, abnormality, being different.”

What Nobody Sees, page 122

ISBN: 978-1-908060-04-4 Categories: , , ,

Anne-Pia was born with curvature of the spine and spent most of her childhood in and out of hospital. She underwent numerous operations, but various accidents, unforeseen problems and, yes, medical mistakes, meant that she lost the use of her legs. By the age of ten she was in a wheelchair. What Nobody Sees is her account of her life so far.

What makes the book so special is Anne-Pia's unsparing ability to draw her readers inside her own experiences. Many are the embarrassments and confusions of childhood which we all remember, but these are exacerbated by Anne-Pia's unique challenges.

It would perhaps have been easier for Anne-Pia to bemoan her fate and resign herself to doing without many of the experiences which make life fun. But shes a fighter. She wanted a career, an independent life, a home, a partner. Never sentimental, she writes in the third person which allows her the objectivity to comment even on her own sufferings:

"On the outside she manages to be the smiling and always-positive, brave girl, but gathering inside there is a lot of pain that won't let go and, at the same time, won't let her tell anyone. She has always managed to cope with these thoughts before, hasn't she? She will manage now too."

What Nobody Sees is Anne-Pia's comment not only on the pain and humiliation of her medical condition, but also on her efforts and determination to discount it wherever possible:

"I know what it is like to use legs.  Once upon a time I could walk.  I am not just a statistic.  A stigmatized and categorized person.  ‘The disabled…’ That’s me.  ‘The disabled feel discriminated against…’  That’s me.  ‘The disabled have a lesser quality of life than others…’  That’s me… But first and foremost I am Anne-Pia."

This is an astonishing book. Unlike anything Loaghtan Books has published before, as soon as we read it we knew we had to bring it to as wide an audience as possible.

A talented family

The illustrations for Anne-Pia’s book were drawn by her uncle Harald Nygård. He features in the book on page 18:

"Aunt Grete is married to Dad’s older brother Harald. They have three children: Christine, Heidi and Linda. At home with Grete and Harald’s family in Oslo, Mum and her two-year-old can relax. No need to think about needles and pain, all the waiting or what is going to happen next. Aunt Grete and Uncle Harald’s house is full of animals. Budgies, dogs and rabbits. The perfect distraction."

Harald Nygård is a portrait artist of some distinction who works with witnesses to produce portraits of unidentified people for police use, either constructing them from scratch or altering known portraits to produce changes in their appearance such as growing a beard or aging. In addition Harald undertakes commissions for various newspapers and is a court illustrator, drawing the protagonists in courtrooms where photography is not permitted.

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