I Need Book Recs! #disability #bookrecs

Hi, everyone! Thanks so much for the fantastic conversation that’s developed around reviewing, liking posts, leaving comments, and why you blog. I’ve learned a lot about the blogging community through our conversations.

Today, however, something new happened: I got a question from a reader!

I could really use your help and expertise, so here is what what she asked:

I read a lot about the Disability March in relation to the Women’s March on my social media this weekend. However, when I try to find fiction books starring people with disabilities, I’m not finding much…

Can you recommend any good books about people with physical disabilities?


Erin Lynn Jeffreys Hodges

To be honest, the only book I can think of is Joni, a non-fiction book about a girl who dives off a dock into water that is too shallow. She is paralyzed from the neck down and later learns to live well and differently after suffering abuse from a nurse and feeling hopeless. It’s by Joni Eareckson Tada, and while it really stuck with me, it’s the only book I can think of!thinking


  1. The most famous in Australia is the autobiography of Alan Marshall who was confined to a wheelchair by polio – I Can Jump Puddles (1955) – which ‘everyone’ my age read.
    The Ben Elton novel Gridlock has a central character with cerebral palsy.
    I’ve also so seen a sexy Australian movie starring a woman with cerebral palsy, try Dance Me to my Song (1998)

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  2. Can’t think of any contemporary fiction examples off the top of my head, but the classics are full of them. Heidi – girl in a wheelchair. Moby Dick – Ahab has an artificial leg. Ditto Long John Silver in Treasure Island. Lady Chatterley took her Lover because of her husband’s disabilities following his war injuries. The Sun Also Rises – the narrator also is disabled after receiving war injuries. Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol can’t walk. The thing is that in the classics people with disabilities were just there – the books were rarely *about* their disability. Which I guess is the ideal scenario, really…

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  3. Hmmm there is a book called The Boy on the Moon by Ian Brown. It’s all about how Ian deals with his son’s disabilities, his evolution as a father, etc.

    This is a really good question to think about, because there certainly aren’t a lot of fiction books that star people with disabilities, that don’t FOCUS on the fact that they have a disability. I keep thinking of television shows that showcase this, but I can’t think of any books…

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  4. Growing up, I remember reading two books about young people with visual impairments. Follow My Leader by James B. Garfield is a story about a boy who is blinded when another boy throws a firecracker at him. He has to relearn how to live with help from a German Shepherd guide dog. One Step at a Time by Deborah Kent is the story of a young lady who wants to show dogs, but discovers that her poor and worsening vision is due to a condition called retinitis pigmentosa, which will cause the tissues of her eye to gradually become entirely opaque. They are both children’s books, but I remember them as being good reads as a kid.

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    • Thank you! I do believe I read a book about a young woman who was deaf and she could lip read super well…. Except she had a professor with a big beard and he wouldn’t sympathize in the least. That was a nonfiction book too, though.


  5. Sun Dragon’s Song by Joyce Chng and illustrated by Kim Miranda is a (teen?) comic book series about a disabled boy wanting to become a dragon rider. The second issue just dropped on Net Galley.

    I have limited knowledge of books featuring MCs with physical disabilities, I second Wendy with Disability in Kidlit blog and seeking out #OwnVoices books.

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  6. Deafening by Francis Itani is about a woman who is hearing disabled. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper is about a girl with CP (I think). This one is YA, but I also liked it. I was also going to mention Wonder, but I see Cathy already did. I have a book out form the library that I haven’t read yet called Still Life with June by Darren Greer, which I think has a character in it that is mentally challenged in some way, but none of the blurbs are telling me what it is that she has, so I’l have to get back to you. Or maybe you’re just looking for physical disabilities?

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  7. I’ve not read it (yet) but I keep reading such good things about El Deafo by Cece Bell – a graphic novel aimed at middle-grade/YA but equally appealing to adults from what I can tell. But other than that, I’m drawing a blank. Very good question!

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  8. I don’t know any off the top of my head but I just heard of one Time To Dance about a dancer who gets into an accident and loses a leg. Read about it on another blog.

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  9. Hi, maybe check the #DisabilityDiaries2017 posts? The blog event is over now, but everyone came up with excellent posts!

    Oh, and if you like graphic novels, Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda features an MC kick-a*s Asian girl with a prosthetic. And the Hawkeye series is supposed to have excellent deaf representation for Clint Barton (whose disability is erased in the films.)

    Hope that helps!

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  10. Here’s what I came up with: there’s Me Before You, which has a paralyzed character and is pretty controversial, but I did like the book. There’s also the YA duology Six of Crows & Crooked Kingdom. The main character, Kaz, has an injured leg and he has to use a cane. There’s Moloka’i, historical fiction in which the main character has leprosy. In All the Light We Cannot See one of the main characters is blind. In Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose, which won the Pulitzer, the narrator of the story is in a wheelchair. Also, George R.R. Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) has several characters with disabilities.
    I need to read more diverse books of people with disabilities! The ones I’ve listed here are all fiction, but I’d like to read some non-fiction. I like your recommendation of Joni. I’m familiar with her story, but haven’t ever read her book. Thanks for the reminder!

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  11. Mostly, I was reading the comments to get recommendations.
    The ones I had in mind were El Deafo, A Time To Dance, and this weekend I’m reading Girl Out Of Water by Laura Silverman, which I believe has a skate boarding teen with one arm. These are all YA, though. The only adult fiction book I can think of is Me Before You, but I hear that the disability rep on that book isn’t very good.

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    • It’s tough to find such books. I’m wondering how The Theory of Everything holds up. It’s written by Stephen Hawking’s ex-wife and it’s nonfiction. I believe the two remained good friends.


  12. Napoleon Xylophone by Frank Lambert (self published) is a middle grade book about a superhero in a wheelchair. It’s pretty cool because the author has a son with a disability and noticed the lack of fiction starring a disabled main character/superhero.

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  13. I tried to comment on this post some time back but I was using my phone and the comment wouldn’t go through. The books that I would recommend are Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, Blindness by Jose Saramago. I haven’t yet read All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr but I have heard so many wonderful things about it.

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    • I’ve heard about the Doerr book so many times myself, but I get into this funny place where I don’t want to read the same book that EVERYONE else is reading. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve heard too much about the book, or if I’m some kind of blogging hipster 🙂


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