Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Favorite Character with a Disability

There are a lot of awesome characters in books that end up being awesome despite their disadvantages.  Rochester in Jane Eyre went blind, Mad-Eye Moody was missing an eye the entire time that we knew him, and Captain Ahab may have been a bit obsessive, but to be fair, he was missing a leg.

Christopher John Francis Boone is 15, has Asperger's (or high functioning Autism), and is very, VERY good at math.  He wakes up one morning to find his neighbor's dog dead on the lawn, thus starting him on a quest to find out what happened.

I like Christopher because despite his disability, he's a smart kid, who learns a lot about his family and himself and even though it scares him, he still does a TON of stuff that puts him outside his comfort zone.  He doesn't lie, and can't stand it when other people lie to him.  You really can't help but love him, and his honest personality brings out the best in everyone.

This is another one of those books I read when I was in that undergraduate young adult literature class that Cassy and I talk about so much.

Shawn suffers from severe cerebral palsy; he has no control over his body whatsoever. The story of Stuck in Neutral is told from his perspective. Shawn is upset about people talking down to him like he's a child, ignoring him like he isn't in the room, and on top of all that, he's pretty sure his dad wants to euthanize him.

Terry Trueman wrote this book because his son has cerebral palsy. The book serves to educate young adults about the condition and how to deal with it (from the perspectives of the person who has it, their friends and family, and total strangers). But Trueman isn't didactic about it. He doesn't say "people with cerebral palsy are just like you and me and this is how we should treat them." He shows the reader. You know, like Cassy tells me: show, don't tell. So much more effective.

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