The silent world of blackness that Helen Keller knew in her youth was forever changed with with her introduction to Annie Sullivan. Thanks to this gifted teacher who found the right student at the right time, Helen Keller’s continued well past the events presented so memorably in the play and subsequent film adaptations of The Miracle Worker. For the reader whose knowledge of Helen Keller ends with the closing credits of that work, The Story of My Life will be the equivalent of Helen’s own learning to see beyond the limited, insulated world of her childhood before Annie Sullivan arrived.
The reader of The Story of My Life will be familiar with the immature child given to demonstrations of rage and expressions of open hostility who is at the center of The Miracle Worker. What those readers may be less familiar with is the inspiration woman who graduated from college, was a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union and wound up on J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI list of suspected communist agents during the Red Scare. While this autobiography is less about such highlights of a lifetime than it is about revealing the power of acquiring the ambition to learn and become a positive agent for change in the world, the careful reader cannot but gain insight into the development of the type of mind that those in power and those with authority might fear in such a pathetic way.
The Story of My Life presents that life lived with gusto and purpose by Helen Keller with a conversational, informal and intimate tone that successfully seeks to inform readers of the details of her struggle with the myriad physical disabilities that could easily have left her gifted mind to rot in some horrific institution somewhere. By the end, it is Keller’s deep-seated and boundless optimism that is revealed as the true power behind her ability to overcome such obstacles and go on to lead a fascinating life.