Some time ago, I wrote about my thoughts on a review of a teen novel and its portrayal of disability. Well, now I have to take issue with several reviews that expressed similar sentiment about Someday by Alison McGhee, a picture book that follows a mother and daughter throughout the daughter’s life.
Here’s what people said:
These reviews might be right for some kids, but my little one is fascinated by growing up–and by remembering that she was once a baby. She asks for this book again and again. She pores over the illustrations with the eyes of a girl who wants to know what changes lie ahead for her. She probably doesn’t pick up on the ending’s sad note quite yet. For now, this book is the map she seems to be looking for.
“Give this one to those who have moved past One Handed Catch but aren’t quite ready for Accidents of Nature.”
Immediately upon reading this sentence in the review, I put Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted on my reserve list at the library. After all, One Handed Catch and Accidents of Nature are among my favorite kids’ and teens’ novels respectively. Both books explore the special/normal dynamic with a particular astuteness that I related to very strongly as a person who occupies varying degrees of special and normal depending on how you decide to see me. (See Fake Arm 101 for more about me.) I recommend them very, very highly. Pehaps the reviewer was not aware that he or she held Crazy Beautiful up with books that seemed to “get it” beyond the usual.
To be clear, Crazy Beautiful is not a bad book. It’s a romance, in which one character has prosthetic arms as a device. If you like teen romances, read it. It has one of the most romantic kisses I’ve read in teen lit. It has the feel of a “Beauty and the Beast” retelling. Read it for those things. That’s what this book is about. It isn’t about limb deficiency or disability.
If, on the other hand, you are looking for something for the readers who have moved past One Handed Catch but aren’t quite ready for Accidents of Nature, you are looking for Wendelin Van Draanen’s newest: The Running Dream.