Monday, April 27, 2015

Top Ten Books That Feature Characters Who Have Disabilities

I'm linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for another Top Ten Tuesday.

I'm still busy KonMari-ing, which has made blogging and reading a lower priority for the moment. But I'm back this week to share some great books that feature characters who have physical or intellectual disabilities.

1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Marie-Laure's father doesn't believe that her blindness should limit where she can go and what she can do, so he builds her a miniature model of their town so she can learn her way around. When he's taken away during World War II, Marie-Laure has the courage not only to survive but also to do her part for France in the war.

2. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker
Tin Win is blind and Mi Mi cannot use her legs, but once they find each other, they are unstoppable. The plot construction isn't the best, but I loved the writing so much I would still recommend the book.

3. The Cuckoo's Calling and The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (pseudonym)
Detective Cormoran Strike lost a leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, which we're reminded of approximately a hundred times in each book. Still, I appreciate that Rowling doesn't shy away from the realistic descriptions of what running after suspects does to Strike's stump in his prosthetic, and the books are great mysteries.

4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Cancer hits each character in this book in a different way: For main character Hazel, it hinders her breathing, while Gus lost a leg and Isaac loses his second eye in the course of the book. They navigate these challenges in a realistic way that manages to neither inspire pity nor serve as inspiration porn.

5. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Charlie is an intellectually challenged man who has the opportunity to take part in an experiment to increase his IQ. As his intelligence accelerates, he finds that being smart isn't the most important thing in life and may actually leave him worse off.

6. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
The parents and circus owners in this book took matters into their own hands when it came to creating the "freaks" for their sideshow, by conceiving and birthing them themselves after taking various combinations of chemicals. But Arty, whose flipper-like appendages require him to get around in a wheelchair, is no object of pity, particularly after he becomes the leader of a cult of people who get parts of their body amputated in hopes of becoming more like him.

7. The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
When a doctor delivers his own twins and sees that the girl has Down's Syndrome, he hands her off to the nurse and tells his wife the baby died. We see not only the repercussions this "death" has on his own family, but also how the nurse raises the girl as her own daughter in this character-driven novel.

8. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
This book follows the story of two migrant workers, one of whom is a large, intellectually challenged man who doesn't know his own strength, something that eventually gets him into trouble.

9. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
My favorite character in this book of a minister who takes his family to live in the Congo is Adah, who was born with a condition (hemiplegia) that makes one side of her body weaker than the other, so she has to drag one leg as she walks. She's the most clever and least irritating of the sisters in the family, who all struggle in their own way to adapt to their new life in Africa.

10. Rules by Cynthia Lord
Although Catherine loves her autistic brother and tries to help him navigate the world, he's also an embarrassment to her because of his lack of understanding of social rules. Then she meets Jason, a paraplegic boy her own age who communicates by pointing at cards. As she gets to know him better, she fears that she'll be judged for being friends with him, especially by Kristi, the cool girl who's moved in next door. This is a good middle-grade novel for discussing how society views people with disabilities.

What are some of your favorite books that feature characters with disabilities?

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  1. So many great books here!

    Check out my TTT.

  2. Really great subject idea!

  3. I haven't read any of these, but I want to read several of them! And what a good choice of topic! You might enjoy A Snicker of Magic, a middle-grade novel by Natalie Lloyd, which has as a major secondary character a boy in a wheelchair who is very matter-of-fact about his disability. It's part of who he is, but it definitely doesn't define him. (Besides, the writing is really wonderful!)

  4. I love your very varied slection of titles. Way to go.

    My TTT

  5. It's nice to see The Art of Hearing Heartbeats on your list. I absolutely love that book and don't often see it on lists! Fantastic choices.

  6. Really great choice of topic and books. I also loved 'The Last Leaves Falling' by Sarah Benwell, well worth checking out if you haven't come across it yet.
    My TTT

  7. I haven't read nearly ANY of these and your descriptions have totally completely sold me. The Poisonwood Bible sounds AMAZING and I've always wanted to read Flowers for Algernon. TFIOS is a big favourite. ^-^ Here's my TTT!

  8. Bloggin' 'bout BooksApril 28, 2015 at 7:55 AM

    Great list! I think books about people with disabilities open our minds and help us see them as people who are just as capable as those of us without disabilities.

    Happy TTT!

  9. Great list. I’ve read a lot of these. I really want to read All The Light We Cannot See. I’ve heard amazing things about it.

  10. Of these, I've only read The Fault In Our Stars. I have thought about checking out the Comoran Strike books but I love the Harry Potter books so much that I can't bring myself to read any of her other books in case I hate them. Interesting list.
    Here's mine:

  11. When I was growing up, I read Izzy Willy Nilly by Cynthia Voigt countless times!

  12. I thought The Casual Vacancy was just OK, but I feel like she got all the dark stuff out of her system (after editing it all out for Harry Potter), and the Strike books are their own genre. If you like mysteries, I'd recommend them.

  13. The Poisonwood Bible is one of my favorites! Definitely recommended!

  14. It looks great! Thanks for the rec!