Debbie and Judy are twins—but Judy was born with cerebral palsy, and Debbie was not. Despite the severity of Judy’s brain damage, her parents chose to keep her at home with her three siblings, and ultimately Judy lived at home with them well into adulthood. Even after her father died, she continued to stay with her mother, her care augmented by a succession of home attendants—until, that is, her doctor told Debbie that Judy’s care at home was wanting and she would not survive without nursing home care.

In We Used to Dance, Debbie tells of the emotional trauma she experienced when she was forced to place her sister—a sister unable to sit, stand, eat regular food, feed herself, use a bathroom, or make her needs and desires known through speech or other means—in a new and strange environment. Following Judy’s life in her new home as well as her past relationship with Debbie and the rest of their immediate family, this is a raw, personal memoir of love and guilt―and, ultimately, acceptance.

Finalist: Memoirs (Personal Struggle/Health Issues)

Morris’ story of identical twin sisters recounts a lifetime of loving care and hard choices . . . . A tender and skillfully written account of deep joys and difficult challenges. Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

…inspiring — a testament to love, sibling connection and human agency.

The Indypendent
[A] …loving…candid…emotive, empathetic memoir…

Foreward Clarion Reviews

…poignant….brave….without succumbing to sentimentality….[Morris] writes with honesty of what she was faced with….a must read….It will grasp your heart and you will certainly feel the squeeze.— StoryCircle Book Reviews

Paula Schaffer Robertson, StoryCircleNetwork

We used to Dance by Debbie Chein Morris is a touching memoir in which she describes the life she shared with her disabled twin, Judy…. However, everything changed when Judy had to go into a nursing home. Placing a loved one in a care home is never easy and others who have gone through a similar experience will benefit from Debbie’s thought-provoking memoir. – Danielle Peterson, Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews 

Danielle Peterson, Readers' Favorite

Morris… shows her skills as an introspective observer, sensitively communicating her feelings to her readership. Especially emotive are her journal entries encompassing her visits with Judy and consultations with family during crucial episodes that might last days at a time with the outcomes unknown but possibly grim… Readers with family challenges will recognize and empathize with Morris’ frank, tender outpourings and will value her work as freely offered for comfort and deeper comprehension.

Barbara Bamberger Scott, The U.S. Review of Books

A breathtaking tribute to the power of sisterly love. This story will grip your heart and not let go.

Diana Kupershmit, author of Emma’s Laugh: The Gift of Second Chances – A Memoir

A heartfelt memoir about life with a severely disabled twin sister. This is a moving reflection on navigating the physical, emotional, and social challenges of an atypical life at home and in the ‘outside’ world. Full of love and profoundly moving. I laughed and cried; celebrated and grieved.

Teresa Sullivan, author of Mikey and Me: My Life with My Exceptional Sister

I have never read a more honest account of having a sibling with a severe disability than We Used to Dance. Morris not only vividly describes the relationship with her sister but discusses the powerful impact of that relationship on her own life. As the older sibling of a brother who had a significant cognitive disability, I was deeply moved by Morris’s descriptions of the conflicting emotions she experienced and the difficult decisions she had to make. I was in tears when I finished reading. I will remember Judy and Debbie for a long time.

Harriet S. Mosatche, PhD, author of Fingerprints on My Heart: How My Severely Disabled Brother Shaped My Life