How often have you read a book with a disabled character, let alone a protagonist? Bookworm Raya runs-down about eight books with a disabled character as the lead or where they are the focus, many of which have since been made into popular films. They cover a wide range of disabilities, from paralysis and cerebral palsy to depression and learning difficulties, and make for interesting reading…
As an introvert, I have always enjoyed my own company. Most of my hobbies are of a solitary nature, such as reading. In addition, unlike other hobbies, I have also found them to be more inclusive, especially as I grew older.
I read a lot as a child. But I don’t recall having come across any books that had disabled characters. It made me wonder whether we, disabled people, were rare creatures.
Things have slowly begun to change and, nowadays, you more are likely to find a number of books, for various age groups, that deal with or include disability.
Here are eight books I have read that represent disability in different ways, both in narrative and tone, and are mostly positive.
My Left Foot
by Christy Brown
I read this book at a young age and I don’t think I fully appreciated the impact it had on the disabled community. Back then, I treated it as a feel-good story. It made me realise that, no matter what the nature of your disability, you can overcome negative attitudes and limiting barriers to pursue your dreams and passion.
The author of the book, Christy Brown, was born with cerebral palsy. He could only paint and write using his left foot. The book is his personal memoir, recounting how he struggled with people’s attitudes as he grew up in Ireland. Back then, it was eye-opening for readers, and still could be today. It was also made into a film in 1989, starring Daniel Day-Lewis.
I can’t say that this is one of my favourite books, but it has certainly made the biggest impression. Its message resonated with me and it was the first book I found that both focuses on disability and was written by a disabled author.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon
I read The Curious Incident a few years ago and I was so captivated by it that I could not let it go. I recall finishing it within 10 days, mainly because of its intriguing plot. But it was also because, prior to reading it, I had very limited knowledge of autism and what living with the condition entails.
The book is essentially a murder mystery with a twist that will keep you gripped. The protagonist, Christopher, is a 15-year-old teenager with autism when his neighbours’ dog is killed. Written from his perspective, he becomes the main suspect and so takes it upon himself to solve the mystery.
The Curious Incident is one of the books I was keen to pass onto friends to read. I felt that, at the time, autism was a condition that society knew little about. Unfortunately, it is still a disability that is misunderstood and carries many wrong assumptions and stigma. As such, I was thrilled to hear that it has also now been made into a show in the West End.
Find out more about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the National Theatre.
Behind Closed Doors
by B A Paris
Behind Closed Doors is a mix of psychological thriller and domestic fiction that tells the story of Grace and Jack. To the outside world, they appear to be the perfect couple. But behind their closed-door lies an entirely different tale.
The book would not necessarily flag up in a search for disability-related titles because, ultimately, it’s not the focus of the plot. But the inclusion of Millie – Grace’s young sister who has Down’s Syndrome – means the plot, in my opinion, is dictated by the character of Millie. She triggers all of the events that shape the entire book.
The bond between the two sisters, and the sense of responsibility that siblings of disabled people often have, is part of what I like about the book. I was also pleased to see the subtle exploration of disability hate crime, plus parent rejection and the inability to care for Millie and accept her condition. All of these themes made the book memorable.
Click here to read full article https://disabilityhorizons.com/2019/09/8-books-with-a-disabled-character-as-the-lead-or-focus-of-the-story/