Let’s be honest. I am a middle-class white girl from Indiana. Nothing about me screams diverse. At least “diverse” in the usual sense. If you look past my whiteness, you’d see a girl who is shy at first but bursting to get out. Seriously, if you let me talk, I have a hard time stopping. You’d see a type-1 diabetic who struggles everyday to keep her body healthy. And you’d see someone just trying to find herself in this big world. And, to me, that’s awesome. There are so many unique things to each person, no matter the race, the sexuality, the religion. And that’s what celebrating diversity is all about. It’s not about emphasizing the differences. It’s about let different voices speak. Letting them stand up and say what they have to say. Which is probably something completely different than what you have to say. Because we’re all different. No one is the same, and that’s amazing. It’s what makes the world go ’round.
There are many different ways I could approach this Top Ten Tuesday Prompt: Books that celebrate diversity. Like, seriously, you could go in a million different directions. So let’s narrow it down. Since I’m diabetic, and that kind of makes me somewhat diverse, let’s talk about six books where the character has a disease. And this isn’t as morbid as it sounds. These types of books are awesome because they spread awareness. And people need to be aware (*cough Where’s the YA book with a t1 diabetic? cough*). So here we go: Six books that feature disease and disability.
House Rules by Jodi Picoult
I think Jodi Picoult does a really good job about tackling some of the harder or not-so-often discussed topics. In this book, the main character’s son, Jacob, has Asperger’s, a disease commonly misunderstood or not understood at all.
I read this years ago, but still remember it for its raw portrayal of Jacob and his disease, showing that though his brain works differently, it doesn’t make him any lesser than anyone else.
Like I said, Picoult knows how to approach and deliver these topics. In this one, Willow is born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a disease that causes her bones to be extremely brittle and easily breakable. Like basically whenever anything touches her, she’ll probably have broken bones. I can’t even imagine living with something like this. And though it’s not common, people do live with this disease or ones just as hard…and this book does a great job of helping us understand to some extent.
This one is a pretty recent release about a girl who has been suffering from an eating disorder. I haven’t read this one yet (but I’m hoping to soon) but from reviews I’ve seen, this book accurately displays the thoughts and hopes and actions of someone with an eating disorder. And it’s not afraid to hold back and sugarcoat the experience. Because it’s not easy and it’s real and it’s happening to people every day, and it’s important for us to see it.
The two main characters both struggle with diseases in their lives–cerebral palsy and OCD–and those disabilities are what makes them stronger and what brings them together. Cerebral palsy is something that is rarely seen in YA books…in fact, this is the only YA book I’ve seen with it portrayed so directly. And, again I say, it’s necessary. We need to know about things like this. It would be so hard to be limited to a walker and a voice-machine when your brain is going at normal levels. And it would be so hard to be restricted by compulsions to do things you know aren’t rational…but you still have to do them anyway because that’s how your brain works. And this book, you journey through both of these disabilities and come to a better knowledge of the two.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
I read this book for the first time I think in junior high. And it struck me so hard. Melinda is suffering from depression View Spoiler »due to being raped. « Hide Spoiler She struggles while the entire school makes fun of her and hates on her. And she just sits inside of her own head, not talking to anyone about what happened, and it’s just so sad to read. Sad and powerful.
It honestly really touched my heart when I read it. And now I’m wanting to re-read it even though I know it’s going to break my heart all over again.
This book explores the mind of Audrey, a girl suffering from severe anxiety. Now this one is a great book if you want to grow awareness, if you want to learn about anxiety or understand it better…and if you don’t want to just feel sad the entire time. Because it’s funny. Kinsella is queen of humor so she brings awareness to this mental illness in a very real while…while still being able to keep a smile on your face. And that’s awesome.
I know I missed many great books and illnesses and disabilities! Let me know what ones you think I should read or what your opinion is on diversity in books.