This past Sunday, the Americans with Disabilities Act turned thirty. Although there is still work to be done on inclusion and accessibility, this was a landmark law that opened doors for many disabled people in our county. To celebrate, I would like to recommend some books by authors with disabilities of their own.
The Pretty One by Keah Brown (2019, 242 pages). Keah Brown, a disability rights activist with cerebral palsy, first came to national attention when she started the #DisabledAndCute viral campaign on social media. This collection of personal essays explores self-love, race, having an able-bodied identical twin, and more. With the charming insight of a lifetime in her body and experience, Brown shares with readers a celebration of herself that just may empower an entire community.
Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz (2019, 317 pages). Moskowitz, herself with a chronic illness, has written a heartwarming romance between protagonist Isabel, a teenage girl with rheumatoid arthritis, and Sasha, another chronically ill teen she meets at the hospital. Isabel’s single father and all her friends are healthy, and her growing relationship with Sasha teaches her what it’s like to have someone who understands her experience and limitations, and has fun at her own pace. Available as an ebook here, and on hoopla, where there’s also a digital audiobook available.
Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw (2014, 250 pages). Burcaw, now twenty-six, was only twenty-one when he wrote this humorous memoir of living with a life-threatening illness. Burcaw has spinal muscular atrophy, a disability that is visible to all who see him and provokes a lot of awkwardness in an able-bodied world. He’s a keen observer and witty writer who uses his viewpoint to write very accessible (pun intended) prose about his life. He released another collection in 2019, Strangers Assume My Girlfriend is My Nurse.
Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories From the Twenty-First Century, edited by Alice Wong (2020, 240 pages). This brand new book released only last month, which contains thirty-eight essays from disabled people about their experience of the world, including our friend Keah Brown from the first entry. Taken together, this anthology gives a glimpse of the vast richness and complexity of the disabled experience, highlighting the passions, talents, and everyday lives of this community. It invites readers to question their own assumptions and understandings. It celebrates and documents disability culture in the now. It looks to the future and past with hope and love.
I hope that gets you started on a journey of including these voices in your reading life!