Since July is Disability Pride Month and it’s almost over…I need to leave you with some recommendations!
Did I mean to write this post much, much earlier in the month? Why yes. But look 😌😚 it’s here now and I do like to claim that quote on how a wizard is never late, but arrives precisely when they mean to (credits to Gandalf, who makes some good points).
Anyway! I’m really excited to talk about some of my favourite books with disabled characters!! Earlier this month I wrote a post on 5 Things I Want To See More Of In Disabled YA Books, and I poured a lot into that post, so thank you so much to everyone who read and commented! My advocacy posts aren’t perfect and I definitely aim to learn more — being disabled is such a vastly different thing to different people and it’s hard to succinctly talk about it and encompass all angles. Plus I am more knowledgable in neurodiversity and autism. But I am trying to learn more!!!
Before we go on though…a quick list…
Things To Remember (When It Comes to Disabled Books)
- #ownvoices books SHOULD be supported and recommended first and foremost!! Of course abled authors can write good rep 🥰 but the fact that disabled authors are rarer in YA is an issue that needs fixing.
- When I talk about “disability pride” it absolutely does not erase disability suffering and struggles.
- We absolutely need books about disability suffering!! But I want to see #ownvoices authors write these.
- Please don’t recommend me books where the disabled character dies while I’m talking about disabled pride. (Especially if that book is by an abled author. 😑)
- I think it’s fair to point out that the book community doesn’t support disabled YA like they do other diverse books and would love if we all worked on this!!
- Two people can have the same condition and one may consider themselves disabled, one might not. We should respect both!
- We need to be careful about language we use to talk about disabilities in books. Things like “she overcame her disability” and “he was amazing despite being disabled” and “this disabled character really inspired me for still doing cool stuff” ARE all really abled. It’s like you really can’t think of anything worse than being disabled and 🥴 let’s stop with that. Disabilities are not a flaw. Just say: “I loved the epic stuff this disabled character did!”
Other Posts You Might Like
…Sick Kids In Love by Hannah Moskowitz
This was one of my favourite reads of last year just for being SO funny, soft, relatable, aching and lonely and loving — and absolutely crammed full of incredible disability rep. The hard parts. The wonderful parts. (It’s also #Ownvoices and you can just TELL because it really unpacks a lot of everyday ableism too.) Isabel has rheumatoid arthritis and Sasha has Gaucher Disease. They’re also both Jewish! There’s a lot of pain in this book, and it’s not romanticised. 😭💛The whole thing hurts, but it also is full of love.
…A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Bernard
This is narrated by Steffi who has selective mutism and ends up partnered with the Deaf boy at school since they both know BSL (British Sign Language). Their quiet love story just filled my whole heart. As far as I know, it’s not #ownvoices for either, but there’s such care and respect in both characters. I really related to Steffi’s severe anxiety too 😭It’s also nice because it’s full of romantic “firsts” but not conventionally. Steffi and Rhys are flawed, but their disabilities aren’t their flaw.
…A List of Cages by Robin Roe
Okay this one will leave you BROKEN on the floor and as you cry softly into your hands, you will absolutely thank me for recommending this book to you. It’s about two boys who were once foster brothers and find each other again…and how their lives basically unravel. Adam has ADHD and Julian has dyslexia and PTSD. There’s a lot of trauma and darkness here, but also unlikely friendship and just two boys trying to fit into a world that rejects them.
…Brave Enough by Kati Gardner
I’m going to say this one wasn’t totally for me stylistically, buuuut I still want to recommend it because it’s #ownvoices for amputee rep and that’s SO rare in YA and this needs to be celebrated! The story follows Cason as she goes from upcoming amazing ballerina to an amputee. The love interest is a cancer survivor but is now dealing with a drug addiction. It also deeply unpacks what it is to go from living a full able-bodied life to not having that anymore. The pain and loss of it, and how to find yourself again.
…A Taxonomy of Love by Rachael Allen
This one is about Spencer who has Tourette’s! I can’t vouch for the rep and I don’t think it’s #ownvoices, but it did feel really respectful and realistic, showing the highs and lows of managing severe Tourette’s. It starts off when Spencer is pretty young and then grows up with him as he has an on-and-off-again pining romance with the girl next door. It’s been ages since I’ve read it and my brain is a SIEVE but I sit here and remember the part where Spencer tried a new medication and the side effects gave him such bad depression with suicide tendencies and he was just crying as his step-mother held him and held him. 😭That scene will forever stay with me. JAfdklsad read this one.
…The Art Of Not Feeling by Laura Tims
Samantha went through a horrific car accident and now uses crutches to walk and is in excruciating pain all the time. She meets Eliot who is literally her opposite — he can’t feel pain AT ALL. Which you don’t think of as a disability (wouldn’t it be lucky to not feel pain?!) but it is. Pain is a defence against us hurting ourselves to death?! And Eliot doesn’t have that. (I also lowkey headcanon him as autistic 🥰😚because I can.) But this book!! It’s also FUNNY. You know that moment when banter and quips just light up your whole world? Sam and Eliot had that connection. It’s so good and SO underrated.
…Meet Me In Outer Space by Melinda Grace
This is an #ownvoices story about auditory processing disorder and I’ve honestly never read this in any other book! I was falling out of my socks with excitement to read this. It’s also set in college, so sitting in that nice upper-YA pocket that doesn’t get enough attention either. But but anyway!! This one has a lot of learning to self advocate for yourself. Because “invisible disabilities” often get ignored or the person is expected to just deal anyway.
…When My Heart Joins The Thousand by A.J. Steiger
This is #ownvoices for autism rep and the love interest has a severe disability where his bones are so fragile they’ll break all the time. He walks with a cane too. It’s also Upper-YA because they’re both teens but figuring out how to be adults, how to support themselves, how to fit into a world that is too harsh and fast and not understanding. I kind of just 😭love this book and softly want to support these two kids as they do their best.
…Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali
This is such a favourite of mine! It’s full of such incredible diversity rep 😍 It’s #ownvoices for Muslim and POC characters, and Adam has just been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (I don’t believe that part is OV). He’s figuring out treatments, but also how to tell his family, since his mother died from this and he doesn’t want to put his dad and sister through that again. Adam is the most loyal and soft and kind boy you will ever see 😭 Zayneb also narrates half the book and I LOVED HER; her refusal to be quiet and take discrimination, and her love of her family and culture and life. These two. Love them.
…The Boy Who Steals Houses by meeeee
You know I always feel guilty adding my books to lists. What is this selfish self-promo!! I softly yell to myself. But then… look if I spent 10 years trying to get published, I should be able to talk about my book on my blog when it is #ownvoices for autism and severe anxiety rep and 😭 I’m proud it got published when so many times I thought it wouldn’t. So here it is! It features two autistic brothers (in different places on the spectrum) and it’s so deeply about unconditional love and found-family and how abuse can shape you. It is even more, deeply, about waffles. Truly a quality piece of book.
tell me some books you love with disability rep!! I have read so few this year so I really need more recs! 💛