Top Five Wednesday, which right now is taken over by the author Laura A Grace. Top Five Wednesday is a weekly book prompt that might help you pick your next read.
July 27th: Disability Pride
A few months ago, we talked about books centering around mental health and the importance of mental health. In honor of National Disability Independence Day being yesterday, let’s feature books with disability pride! What are some books that focus or have positive representation of disabilities in fiction?
Okay, I can easily pick out my favourite characters with Cerebral Palsy, but they are the ones that got a lot of spotlight in my blog. So, I’m cheating and doing memoirs instead. At least you can’t get more close to own voices than this.
A memoir-in-essays from disability advocate and creator of the Instagram account @sitting_pretty Rebekah Taussig, processing a lifetime of memories to paint a beautiful, nuanced portrait of a body that looks and moves differently than most.
Growing up as a paralyzed girl during the 90s and early 2000s, Rebekah Taussig only saw disability depicted as something monstrous (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), inspirational (Helen Keller), or angelic (Forrest Gump). None of this felt right; and as she got older, she longed for more stories that allowed disability to be complex and ordinary, uncomfortable and fine, painful and fulfilling.
Writing about the rhythms and textures of what it means to live in a body that doesn’t fit, Rebekah reflects on everything from the complications of kindness and charity, living both independently and dependently, experiencing intimacy, and how the pervasiveness of ableism in our everyday media directly translates to everyday life.
Disability affects all of us, directly or indirectly, at one point or another. By exploring this truth in poignant and lyrical essays, Taussig illustrates the need for more stories and more voices to understand the diversity of humanity. Sitting Pretty challenges us as a society to be patient and vigilant, practical and imaginative, kind and relentless, as we set to work to write an entirely different story.
With acerbic wit and a hilarious voice, Shane Burcaw’s Laughing at My Nightmare describes the challenges he faces as a twenty-one-year-old with spinal muscular atrophy. From awkward handshakes to having a girlfriend and everything in between, Shane handles his situation with humor and a “you-only-live-once” perspective on life. While he does talk about everyday issues that are relatable to teens, he also offers an eye-opening perspective on what it is like to have a life threatening disease.
This book is for you if you are looking for education mixed with humour. I won’t lie; I’m disappointed that I haven’t read Shane’s latest book, Strangers Assume My Girlfriend Is My Nurse.
Life Without Limits is an inspiring book by an extraordinary man. Born without arms or legs, Nick Vujicic overcame his disability to live not just independently but a rich, fulfilling life, becoming a model for anyone seeking true happiness. Now an internationally successful motivational speaker, his central message is that the most important goal for anyone is to find their life’s purpose despite whatever difficulties or seemingly impossible odds stand in their way.
Nick tells the story of his physical disabilities and the emotional battle he endured trying to deal with them as a child, a teen, and a young adult. “For the longest, loneliest time, I wondered if there was anyone on earth like me, and whether there was any purpose to my life other than pain and humiliation.” He shares how his faith in God has been his central source of strength and explains that once he found his own sense of purpose—inspiring others to make their lives and the world better—he found the confidence to build a rewarding and productive life without limits.
Nick offers practical advice for realizing a life of fulfillment and happiness by building trust in others, developing supportive relationships, and gaining strength for the journey. He encourages the reader by showing how he learned to accept what he could not control and focus instead on what he could.
Prize-winning journalist and the co-author of smash New York Times bestseller I Am Malala, Christina Lamb, now tells the inspiring true story of another remarkable young hero: Nujeen Mustafa, a teenager born with cerebral palsy, whose harrowing journey from war-ravaged Syria to Germany in a wheelchair is a breathtaking tale of fortitude, grit, and hope that lends a face to the greatest humanitarian issue of our time, the Syrian refugee crisis.
For millions around the globe, sixteen-year-old Nujeen Mustafa embodies the best of the human spirit. Confined to a wheelchair because of her cerebral palsy and denied formal schooling in Syria because of her illness, Nujeen taught herself English by watching American soap operas. When her small town became the epicenter of the brutal fight between ISIS militants and US-backed Kurdish troops in 2014, she and her family were forced to flee.
Despite her physical limitations, Nujeen embarked on the arduous trek to safety and a new life. The grueling sixteen-month odyssey by foot, boat, and bus took her across Turkey and the Mediterranean to Greece, through Macedonia to Serbia and Hungary, and finally, to Germany. Yet, in spite of the tremendous physical hardship she endured, Nujeen’s extraordinary optimism never wavered. Refusing to give in to despair or see herself as a passive victim, she kept her head high. As she told a BBC reporter, “You should fight to get what you want in this world.”
Nujeen’s positivity and resolve infuses this unforgettable story of one young woman determined to make a better life for herself. Told by acclaimed British foreign correspondent Christina Lamb, Nujeen is a unique and powerful memoir that gives voice to the Syrian refugee crisis, helping us to understand that the world must change—and offering the inspiration to make that change reality.
Jeannie grew up with autism, but no one around her knew it. Twirling Naked in the Streets will take you on a journey into the mind of a child on the autism spectrum; a child who grows into an adolescent, an adult, and becomes a wife, mother, student, and writer with autism.
This is a gripping memoir of a quirky, weird, but gifted child who grows up never quite finding her niche. It took 38 years to discover that all the issues, problems, and weirdness she experienced were because she had Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), a form of high-functioning autism.
The tale begins at age three and takes us all the way through her diagnosis. Along the way she explains autism in a way that will have fellow “Aspies” crying tears of joy at being understood, and “neuro-typical” people really starting to grasp the challenges that autistic people face every moment of every day.
Again here I cheated a bit, too, because Twirling Naked in the Streets and No One Noticed: Growing Up With Undiagnosed Autism is my next read. However, rest assured that I will have read it by the time this post is out. From the blurb, it sounds beautifully written.