I picked them up from the library because I saw them on a list of books about disability. Alvin is "scared of everything" and he can't talk in school (he has selective mutism). The books take this problem seriously without heaping pity on him, indeed they find the humor in the situation. They are from Alvin's perspective, and he talks about his everyday challenges trying to make friends at school, getting into trouble with his siblings, etc. He has a PDK (personal disaster kit) made from an old tackle box and filled with band-aid, a compass, and hand-written instructions for surviving difficult situations. He has a good family including his dog and grandparents. (See the glossary in the back for definitions of gunggung, etc.) Alvin is American-born Chinese and his culture is also part of the story.
I have been recommending these books to everyone! They are super great! So far these are the first books I've read with a character who has selective mutism and they exceed my expectations.
x-posted to my own journal
Great Characters With Disabilities In YA and MG : Guest Post by Sarah Heacox
Hello! I was asked to write a guest post on something I'm passionate about: great YA (and MG) novels with characters with disabilities (CWD). It's so important for those characters to exist, for the same reason it's vital to have characters of color, characters with terrible parents, LGBTQ characters, characters with mental illness, characters who are poor, characters who are immigrants, characters who are hopelessly dorky, and just generally the whole wide range of kid and teenager humanity. If a kid reads her way through the library and there's no book about any kid that resembles her, then what is she to think? Books bring us together and let us know we're not alone, that people just like us are good and have good adventures and ultimately triumph. If we never see ourselves in the stories we read, how do we learn that we can shine?
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.
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.
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.
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.
The planet he lives on, Barrayar, is a pretty backwards monarchy supported by a military-aristocratic class of which Miles is a member, which causes no end of political issues for him and his family, especially considering that Barrayar is the kind of place where families often kill their infant children for being "muties." Miles is the worst person at keeping a low profile ever, so he's a constant headache for the Emperor (who is also his foster-brother of sorts) and his father, who is a military hero and a high-ranking politician-aristocrat. The earlier books in the series deal more with the social and political aspects of his disabilities and Barrayaran society. And also Miles's Awesome Adventures in Space. By the time of Cryoburn, Miles is pushing forty and he's pretty comfortable with himself and his position. Cryoburn takes place off Barrayar, on a planet called Kibou-Daini where cryogenics his taken on sinister aspects as corporations hoard the proxy votes of their frozen employees, and Miles inevitably gets involved in the intrigue. It's an interesting book, and Bujold is awesome at speculating about the social aspects of technological advances (one of my favorite things about her writing) and I really liked some of the new characters, but it's sort of removed from the familiar milieu of the series and I missed my old favorites (Cordelia! Ivan! ILU!). It wasn't exactly slow, but it lacked much of the drama I'm used to in the Vorkosigan novels--right up until the end, at which point Bujold delivered an incredibly spoilery gut-punch that has me dying for the next novel.
Bottom line: I enjoyed the book very much, but if you're interested in the series I wouldn't recommend jumping in with Cryoburn; it's worth it to find an earlier book or omnibus collection.
The Blood Books, or Vicki Nelson mysteries by Tanya Huff: Blood Price, Blood Trail (my favorite--it had werewolves, and werewolf society was fascinating), Blood Lines, Blood Pact, Blood Debt, and Blood Bank (a short story collection).
These are urban dark fantasy-mysteries set in Toronto (with werewolves, mummies, vampires, ghosts--that sort of thing). Vicki Nelson, the protagonist, is a PI (ex-cop, but she had to quit because of her eyesight failing due to Retinitis Pigmentosa.) It was cool to have a protagonist with a disability; she can be touchy about it, but she's utterly competent and she adapts. She investigates (gets dragged into) paranormal mysteries with the help of her vampire-turned-romance-writer sidekick, Henry Fitzroy (who's bisexual), and her ex-partner on the force, Mike Celluci. The three of them have a love triangle thing going on that I find obnoxious (I really hate the whole male-rivals-for-woman's-affection thing), but I quite like Vicki. She can be frustrating, as she is obstinate and independent to a fault, but she's strong and competent and human. I like Celluci as well, though Henry rubs me the wrong way a lot of the time. I also like that Vicki gets to sleep with them both (not cheating, they're just not exclusive) without being slut-shamed. As I mentioned in my review of the Smoke trilogy, a spin-off of this series, I have issues with the sexualized, non-consensual feeding by vampires on mortals; it's kind of rape-y and I feel like the problematic ethics of it get glossed over. But that's an issue with a lot of vampire novels, and the books were quite enjoyable other than that. The novels are fast-paced and fun, and if you like vampire novels, urban fantasy, and/or mysteries I think these are quite a bit better than most books in those genres.
These were the books that got adapted into the TV series Blood Ties, though I haven't seen the show and can't comment on its quality or say how closely it resembles the novels.
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.
( Cut for general plot & character discussion, no specific spoilers )
And I'm going to start right off with a teensy book list of romances featuring a disabled main character that I've read already:
Wolf Signs [link to page about book on author's website], by Vivian Arend, is a heterosexual paranormal romance. One might guess - correctly - from the title that it is about werewolves. The main female character in Wolf Signs is deaf.
One Dance With a Duke [link to page about book on author's website], by Tessa Dare, is a heterosexual historical romance (approximately Regency period). The titular duke pretty clearly has an anxiety disorder.
Three Nights With a Scoundrel [link to page about book on author's website], also by Tessa Dare, is the third book in the trilogy of which One Dance With a Duke is the first. The heroine in this heterosexual historical romance is deaf. There are some really interesting setting details related to that (for example, servants in her household use mirrors to make flashing lights to catch her attention, since she wouldn't be able to hear them knocking or speaking to her), though I have no idea how historically accurate they are.
I think an argument could be made that the male lead in the other book in the Stud Club trilogy, Twice Tempted by a Rogue [link to page about book on author's website], has PTSD, which might also be of interest to readers here.
ETA: I don't seem to be able to add new tags. I would suggest: romance, book lists, anxiety disorder
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
If you are seeking a good introductory text to US Deaf Cultural History, this is an excellent book to start with.
Burch divides the topic into five sections: Deaf Residential Schools (and the fight against the Oralist movement), The Preservation of Sign Language, Deaf Associations (which included Deaf sports stars), Deaf people in the working world, and Legal Challenges, which focuses both on eugenics and Deaf people's rights to citizenship.
Burch manages to lay out discussions of citizenship, Americanization, and cultural conflict in a way that I found engaging as an historian familiar with the literature, and that I think the average reader of US history will also find easy to follow and interesting.
One of the things I really like about what Burch has done here is that she draws primarily on sources written by Deaf people, such as the Deaf press (primarily The Silent Worker and The Frat) and annual reports from Deaf societies, rather than the work of hearing educators.
Burch also makes a point of highlighting fractures in the Deaf community. She brings up issues of sexism, racism, and class conflict between university educated "elites" and "working men". She also discusses the divide between people who became deaf later in life, and people who were either born deaf or became deaf quiet young. These are all especially highlighted during her discussion of eugenics, as deaf elites approved of "discouraging" congenitally deaf couples from marrying and having children, since this was less likely to affect members of their own group, who were primarily deafened later in childhood.
Overall, I really liked this book. Part of Burch's conclusion left me irritated - I would like to move to the world where every Deaf university student actually *gets* a 'terp rather than having to wait forever, even with the ADA - but other than that I think her research is spot-on, her prose is very engaging, and her work is awesome. I recommend this to everyone.