Friday, January 16, 2015

Disabled Characters in YA

I've recently written on this blog about my commitment to reading and supporting diversity within young adult books and one of the things I was quite keen to read and see more of in YA are differently abled characters.  I really don't read very much about people in wheelchairs or that have chronic illness or characters with vision/hearing impairment and so on.  But I'd like to.

The books I've listed below deal with disability in different ways. Blindside by Aidan Chambers looks at the way being involved in an accident that leads to a loss of mobility would be a challenge to deal with and The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell is the story of a teenager who has a neurodegenerative disease and what that means for his quality of life as well for his friends and family.  There's also There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake and an anthology called Love Hurts edited by Malorie Blackman that features at least two stories/extracts that features differently abled characters.

And while I have managed to come across four books published this month that I feel discusses disability in YA fiction, I'm afraid that I haven't found anything else throughout the rest of the year. If anyone knows of any books with prominently disabled/differently abled characters being published in 2015, I would love to know about them!

Blindside by Aidan Chambers (15 January, Barrington Stoke)

An emotionally challenging and beautifully written drama that confronts the messiness of life head-on. Pete's a brilliant runner and dreams of athletic stardom - but fate intervenes. Pete is blindsided when he is involved in a horrific bike collision and his whole life is knocked off course. Stuck in a hospital bed and lamenting the loss of his mobility as well as his shattered dreams, the other people on his ward help Pete see that giving up on life is not the answer. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 12+

The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell (29 January, Random House) 

And these are they. My final moments. They say a warrior must always be mindful of death, but I never imagined that it would find me like this . . .

Japanese teenager, Sora, is diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). Lonely and isolated, Sora turns to the ancient wisdom of the samurai for guidance and comfort. But he also finds hope in the present; through the internet he finds friends that see him, not just his illness. This is a story of friendship and acceptance, and testing strength in an uncertain future.

Love Hurts by Malorie Blackman (29th January, Random House)

Malorie Blackman brings together the best teen writers of today in a stunningly romantic collection about love against the odds. Featuring short stories and extracts about modern star-crossed lovers from stars such as Gayle Forman, Markus Zusak and Patrick Ness, and with a brand-new story from Malorie Blackman herself, Love Hurts looks at every kind of relationship, from first kiss to final heartbreak.

There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake (1st January, Bloomsbury)

In four hours, Shelby Jane Cooper will be struck by a car.

Shortly after, she and her mother will leave the hospital and set out on a winding journey toward the Grand Canyon.

All Shelby knows is that they’re running from dangers only her mother understands. And the further they travel, the more Shelby questions everything about her past—and her current reality. Forced to take advantage of the kindness of unsuspecting travelers, Shelby grapples with what’s real, what isn’t, and who she can trust . . . if anybody.

Award-winning author Nick Lake proves his skills as a master storyteller in this heart-pounding new novel. This emotionally charged thrill ride leads to a shocking ending that will have readers flipping back to the beginning.

Do you have any recommendations for YA books that feature a disabled character?


  1. Ooh, good rec's! I don't think I've read any books with disabled characters and that saddens me greatly because we need that type of diversity.

    1. Thanks Anya! I think they are out there, we just have to look a lot harder for them!

  2. Great post Michelle! I recently read She Is Not Invisable by Marcus Sedgwick ... Main character has a disability and for personal reasons the character and book touched my heart deeply. It was released 2014 not 2015 but still a fab read x

    1. Thanks Michelle! I started this book awhile back but forgot to finish it. Will definitely give it another go sometime soon :)

  3. I was going to suggest She is Not Invisible as well. Sedgwick's books are always great, but Laureth is a particularly fantastic character.

    1. Thanks Darren! I was thrilled when I learned Laureth had a disability. More of this, I say! :)


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