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[personal profile] paradox_dragon
Young adult romance/supernatural murder mystery. Protagonist Emerson has depression. Also can see people from the past which makes people think she's hallucinating. Got committed. Out now, unraveling supernatural murder conspiracies and falling in love. I loved her; she was kickass, and felt quite emotionally real. Good book. Short review, sorry, no time! Just wanted to post this before I forget.
trouble: Meg from Disney's Hercules.  "You'd think a girl would learn." (You'd think a girl would learn)
[personal profile] trouble
I started reading Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books at exactly the right time in my life. I was a pretty angsty teen who, as I tell people, sat at the side of the lake in my town and threw rocks into it, thinking about life was just like rocks being thrown into a lake. Reading "Ha ha, unaccepting family/peers! I'm an Important Person with a horse that talks in my head, but I'm so good and awesome I'll never wield my powers against you for evil, even though I could!" was rather cathartic at that age.

I've noticed I haven't really enjoyed anything she's written that I've read since I grew out of that phase, which may just mean that the books are exactly the same, but I am very very different. (Now my "ha ha revenge!" self-told stories are all about getting Published in an important academic journal, because that way lies fame and fortune, obviously.)

And, of course, Lackey woke up one morning and decided that trans* people were subjects of mockery and ridicule and-- yeah.

The short form of the above is: I'm not Lackey's target audience anymore, and haven't been for some time.

Lackey has three stories that I'm aware of that explicitly include people with what would now be called cognitive impairments, but who she describes as "simple", "child-like", and "slow". In addition, she has a second-tier character in another series who is a Gryphon who is equally child-like, considered "misborn", and is a Very Special Lesson In Love to the main characters.

Below the cut I start talking about sexual abuse of people with disabilities.

'Simple' Human Girls/Women )

Gryphon )

I feel a bit weird talking about these books in this way. For one thing, the inclusion of people with cognitive impairments isn't exactly common in books, so on some level I feel I should praise - or at least acknowledge - that Lackey has included characters with cognitive impairments as the background of her world. As well, I generally think basically good things about some of the depictions of disability I've read in Lackey's work: I found her description of King Randall's degenerative and unknown pain condition to be realistic, although a bit of tragedy pr0n. I found her depiction of the disabled Herald that sang to Talia in the first Arrows books pretty simplistic (he just needed someone to love him!), but that whole series is pretty simplistic. I feel, perhaps unwarranted, that Lackey at least makes an effort to include disability in her stories.

I just find the way she goes about it to be difficult to deal with, because it seems to both brush up against reality and then act like reality isn't important. I don't know, your mileage may vary.
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[personal profile] paradox_dragon
Translated from Japanese.

This is not the most dynamic book ever, but although I can't say it's entertaining, it's oddly compelling in its examination of the minutiae of everyday life. After Akiko's mother-in-law dies, she is left to balance her full-time job and disproportionately heavy domestic responsibilities with the care of her elderly, senile father-in-law, with whom she has never gotten along (mostly because he's a total asshole).

The framing of Shigezo's condition is really problematic--he's presented as a burden, and his behavior is often pretty grotesque, he's blamed for his condition because he was self-indulgent and didn't stay active, and there's a lot of talk about how old people should just die off already. Definitely centered on caregiver experiences. But there are also a lot of elderly characters (many with illnesses and disabilities) who negotiate and occasionally challenge that framework. And a lot of the conflict isn't Shigezo's fault, but originates from a system which, rather than making a place for him or others in similar situations, leverages gender inequality to force women into caregiving roles.

The writing gets a bit repetitive at times--over and over again Akiko and her husband talk about their own fear of aging, and Akiko's daily routine is pretty, well, routine. However, the characterization is deft, and the novel's examination of the social problems of an increasingly aged population is interesting. I can't really recommend it, but it's still an intriguing look at Japanese society in the recent past.
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[personal profile] paradox_dragon
This is one of the most haunting books I've read in a long time. [personal profile] zahrawithaz's review is what made me pick it up in the first place, and she says it all better than I can, but I definitely recommend the book. I'll be reading Oyeyemi's other work as soon as possible.

Miranda, the protagonist, has pica, a condition which causes her to eat chalk and other non-food substances in lieu of actual food (Just a warning: I can definitely see this book being triggering for people with ED). She also exhibits signs of mental illness and is institutionalized for a number of months. It's hard to critique the treatment of disability in the book, since it's all tied up in the horror story; Miranda's conditions, as well as her personality, are supernaturally influenced, and there's a certain monstrousness and otherness and victimization to her that would trouble me more in other circumstances. As it stands, I found the novel very compelling, and would recommend it.

On Oyeyemi:

Her back-story runs thus: born to teacher parents in Nigeria, her family moved to London when she was 4. Living on a council estate and discouraged from socialising with local kids, she read precociously and played with Chimmy, her imaginary friend, who “died” — hit by a car on Lewisham High Street while out buying a sausage roll — when Oyeyemi was 9. (“It was traumatic at the time, but seemed sort of suicidal on his part.”) School was difficult — disruptive behaviour and suspension dovetailed with bouts of clinical depression, culminating in an attempted overdose on pills at 15. After time spent with relatives in Nigeria, she began The Icarus Girl (involving a young British-Nigerian girl who encounters a secret companion), and earned a book deal with her first few pages, writing it on the sly while her parents assumed she was wrestling with A-level coursework.

And a quote from her:

“Female craziness is something I’m very interested in,” Oyeyemi says, “how it can manifest itself, what it means, what pressures force someone into these behaviours. I’m pretty much obsessed with madness.”

From The Times interview.

So, in conclusion: not unproblematic, but really fascinating; will read again.
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[personal profile] sasha_feather
Izzy, Willy-Nilly by Cynthia Voigt
280 pages
Teen/Young Adult

This story begins as Izzy wakes up in the hospital after an accident. She learns that her leg is going to be amputated. Izzy is a popular 16-year-old Minnesota high school student, mediocre at academics, concerned with boys and her friends. She has caring middle-class parents and three siblings. This detailed, character-driven book is an excellent exploration of the internal changes Izzy experiences after losing her leg.
slight spoilers )
As with other books by Voigt, the characters are very well-drawn, and the beauty of this book is in the intricate details of the relationships between the characters and the way the people change over time. I really enjoyed it.


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