Read to Me!

Feb 04, 2011
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I love to read, fiction especially. I love the smell of new books. Heck, I love the smell of the old books. I love it, but I don’t do it anymore. I mean, I’ll certainly pick up a People Magazine in the waiting room at my dentist’s office and read all about the new child that Brad and Angelina just adopted, but I rarely ever pick up an actual, legitimate book anymore. Part of it is that I know myself too well. If I like a book, I tend to get so wrapped up in it that I can’t do anything else until I finish it, and then everything around me suffers (including beauty sleep and even my poor children’s meals).

But I was recently inspired by a local announcement of an author coming to town to preview her new book. Rachel Simon is the author of the critically acclaimed Riding the Bus with My Sister which is a memoir about her taking public transportation with her sister who has a developmental disability. Her new book is called The Story of Beautiful Girl and is set in 1968. The premise is the relationship between a young white woman with a developmental disability, and an African American deaf man who are both locked away in an institution but are deeply in love and manage to escape and find refuge in the farmhouse of a retired schoolteacher and widow.

I’m really excited to check out both of her books actually, and decided to check out other popular disability-related books out there, specifically in fiction. What caught me by surprise though was how many classics and other very familiar titles were listed when I searched for keyword disability. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Secret Garden (a childhood favorite of mine), Of Mice and Men, and then some very familiar authors like John Grisham and Dean Koontz. But here’s what else I found from fiction of more recent years, using the descriptors from Barnes and Noble, but please share your favorites with me too!

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

“Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life on his family’s farm in remote northern Wisconsin where they raise and train an extraordinary breed of dog. But when tragedy strikes, Edgar is forced to flee into the vast neighboring wilderness, accompanied by only three yearling pups. Struggling for survival, Edgar comes of age in the wild, and must face the choice of leaving forever or revealing the terrible truth behind what has happened. A riveting family saga as well as a brilliant exploration of the limits of language, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is destined to become a modern classic.”

Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick

“Meet Maxwell Kane, narrator of Freak the Mighty. He’s a timid soul stuck in the body of a teenage giant with size 14 shoes. Haunted by a dark secret in his past, he hides out in his basement room, avoiding the world. But when a new kid moves in next door Max’s life changes forever. The two outcasts form the ‘normal’ world team up to become “Freak the Mighty.”

Like knights of old they defend the weak, right every wrong–and solve the mystery of Max’s past. Proving once and for all that courage comes in all sizes.”

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

“Kira, an orphan with a twisted leg, lives in a world where the weak are cast aside. She fears for her future until she is spared by the all-powerful Council of Guardians. Kira is a gifted weaver and is given a task that no other community member can do. While her talent keeps her alive and brings certain privileges, Kira soon realizes she is surrounded by many mysteries and secrets. No one must know of her plans to uncover the truth about her world and see what places exist beyond.”

Tangerine by Edward Bloor

“When he was little, Paul stared at an eclipse too long. Or so his parents tell him. Now 12, he is legally blind. When his family moves to Florida’s Tangerine County, where lightning strikes every day and toxic smoke billows through the air, Paul begins to remember something else. As buried memories surface, he uncovers the ugly truth of what his football hero brother did to him years ago. The element of suburban ecological horror here is both frightening and surreal, but it gives way in the second half of the novel to an onslaught of soccer and football games. The playing fields are symbolic arenas in which Paul’s anger at his brother and his tentative friendships with a group of poor minority kids get worked out. The horrific elements, however, remain largely unresolved. The zombie Paul mentions never appears. Lightning continues to strike. A swarm of mosquitoes hovers over the housing development. Problems crop up, too, in this book’s pacing, but first-novelist Bloor pulls it off, wedding athletic heroics to American gothic with a fluid touch and flair for dialogue. A sports novel that breaks the mold.”

Author: Blythe



  • Jenna Feldman

    I love to read too, and this list is great! I recently read a Young Adult book about a boy with Cerebral Palsy, called Stuck In Neutral by Terry Trueman. I recommend it.

  • Sbonne2

    Great, thanks for the recommendation!

  • Rachelsimon

    Thanks for mentioning my book, Blythe. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get to Chicago due to the snowstorm, but I’m dearly hoping to get back there before long, and when I do, maybe I’ll get a chance to meet you. I was so glad to see you mentioned these other titles, several of which I’ve read and liked. Another one I’d like to add is “The Speed of Dark”, by Elizabeth Moon.

  • Sbonne2

    Would certainly love to meet you when (if!) you do get to Chicago and thanks for the other book recommendation. I’ll have to check that one out too!