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Southwest alum Claire Forrest visits to discuss recent book

Southwest alum Claire Forrest visits to discuss recent book

Claire Forrest is a Southwest alumni, competitive swimmer, and author. On March 21, Forrest came to Southwest for an author talk about her first book, Where You See Yourself. 

Where You See Yourself is a book largely about Forrest’s experience living with her disability, through the lens of the character Effie. The protagonist of the novel, like her, also uses a wheelchair. Forrest made it clear in her author talk, she and Effie are not the same person, though the character and novel is inspired by Forrest’s personal experiences. Her purpose in writing the book was to “give [young disabled people] a place to land and explore.”

In the discussion of the novel, the audience members were challenged to consider how their behavior might impact those around them, particularly for those with disabilities. What accommodations have they made and what actions can they take to be more accommodating of those like Forrest, Effie, and others with disabilities?

During her author talk, Forrest mentioned that many people have inaccurately assumed she is intellectually disabled upon a first glance and often treat her condescendingly as a result. Forrest shared about experiencing breaches of her personal space and autonomy, including some going as far as touch her chair and push her without her consent. One can always avoid situations like this by simply asking. Nobody will fault you for asking and it’s always a good thing to garner more knowledge.

The event took place after school in the choir room and was attended by approximately sixty students and staff members.   

“I thought the book was great and it was interesting to speak with the author. Definitely something I would do again,” Ben Loveland (‘27) said.

The author visit was organized by Forrest’s former classmate and current Southwest English teacher Drayton Cousins. 

In response to being asked about the impact of the author-talk and the book, Cousins said, “I think that 

students got an opportunity to [see] the process and thought that goes into making a book, especially one that can be related to their own lives.”

For those interested in reading Forrest’s novel Where You See Yourself, it can be found at stores like Wild Rumpus, Barnes and Noble, and Target or online on Amazon. The Southwest media center also has copies of the book available to check out, thanks to a grant courtesy of The Southwest Foundation. 

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