BOOK REVIEW: Breaking Barriers: Working and Loving While Blind

Breaking Barriers: Working and Loving While Blind by Peter Altschul is the inspirational story of how one man, with the aide of guide dogs. Lived a successful life and navigated all the obstacles of life – including the unfamiliar territory of love.

Breaking Barriers starts off by giving us an important insight into Peters early life from being born blind through his high school graduation.  How his mother instilled into him the determination that there is not a single barrier in the world that Peter could not overcome.

Altschul did an excellent job of taking the reader into a world that many do not know about, the world of being blind.  I found his detailed documentation of entering, participating, completing, and leaving guide dog school with a guide dog informative.  Like myself most readers may never have been and probably will never have the need to attend a guide dog school.  Most people do not understand the special relationship between a guide dog and his/her master.  Nor do most people know the basic etiquette that is needed by the public when a disabled person is with their service animal.  Altschul did an excellent job, without lecturing the reader regarding the basics everyone should know about how to interact with a disabled person and his/her companion.

At first glance of the book, one might think this book is going to be the love story of how a blind man with the help of his dog, finds love.  Although this is part of the story, it is not the entire story.  Altschul shares the ups and down of being blind, living in a big city, and wanting to be a productive working member of society.

If you are considering reading this book for a love story, Altschul does not introduce his love interest into about the last third of the book.

The book fell short in two areas:

I was unable to visualize the scene.  I was unable to see what the guide doo school lobby looked like, nor any other location in the book.  I attributed that to the fact that Altschul is completely blind.  Expecting Peter to describe something, or even use descriptive words, when he has never been able to see is like asking someone to explain what life after death is like when that person has never died and returned to life.

Although this is forgivable by most readers, the second area that fell short was more troubling.

It was difficult for this reader to connect with the characters in the book.  Granted, the characters in this book are real people.  However, I did not find myself connecting with any of them.  I did feel sadness as Peter shared the grief he and his family experienced after the passing of his stepmother and father.  Unfortunately, I did not find myself really connecting with anyone in the story and rooting for them.

Despite the book’s shortcomings, the story is still well written.  The story gives any disabled person, who often feels that love is something that they will never find because of their disabilities, there is love for everyone in this world.