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Hello Hello! How are you all?

Today I’m bringing you a bit of a different post in order to tell you all what I’ve been reading for my thesis, in the form of a wrap-up. In case I haven’t mentioned it before, the subject for my thesis is “Disability in anglophone literature,” a subject very close to my heart that I’m passionate about!

I will admit to having put the bar quite high for my thesis and did originally start with 38 books on the TBR, but I pushed it down to 17 (I think) and I’m quite happy with the wide variety of genres and representations.

Without further ado, here’s what I read for my thesis in no particular order!

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

This was a re-read for me that I really enjoyed. I liked it a lot the first time round in 2019, but this time I enjoyed it even more. The MC, Harper, has cerebral palsy and there is a LOT of internalised ableism at the start of the book, but I loved the message of this one – it’s not because someone is disabled that they can’t be just an “ordinary” hero. I believe this had really good rep and it was a great read overall!

I gave it 4 stars.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I really wanted to find good rep in science fiction and I thought I would find it in this book but it was really somewhat lacking. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very enjoyable read, but it just didn’t have what I was looking for in terms of disability rep. It does include a form of disability with the science fiction answer of cyborgs, mutations and technology, but that’s not the road I was going down, so I don’t think I’ll end up using it!

I gave it 3.5 stars.

Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability and Making Space by Amanda Leduc

This was such an interesting book that was also really useful for me and gave me another vision of fairy tales and stereotypes concerning disability and difference. The author also included sections about her own disability (mild cerebral palsy and spastic hemiplegia) in between these about different fairy tales which made the whole book even more compelling. For a nonfiction, it was riveting and I was able to finish it very quickly; I think it’s going to be an amazing help for my thesis!

I gave it 5 stars.

Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott

I read this one ages ago and it must have been the first one I read for the thesis. In terms of the story, it was very predictable with the plot and the characters, but it taught me a lot about cystic fibrosis and the medical system in the United States. I did enjoy it but more on the disability rep side and not necessarily where the story went as it is not usually my kind of read.

I gave it 3.5 stars.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Out of all the books I read for my thesis, this was the hardest for me because the MC, Chloe, suffers from fibromyalgia, as I do. I was so worried about starting it because I wasn’t sure if it was going to be good rep or not, but it turned out to be great and I felt myself in every single word which was both uplifting and emotional. It was a cute sort of slow-burn romance and I just sped through it. I was also abe to talk to the author, which was a fantastic experience. Overall, a great book!

I gave it 4 stars.

Laughing at my Nightmare by Shane Burcaw

The next nonfiction on my list is about Shane Burcaw who has SMA, also known as spinal muscular atrophy. This was an eye-opening book about the hard times and the good times, and how the life of a disabled person is made up of both. Shane explains through sarcasm and dark humour that he gets through his days by remembering to laugh and be cheerful about his life which was a very big contrast to some of the fiction I read where the disabled character was only ever depressed or wanted to end their lives which just doesn’t reflect reality. A lot of people with disabilities are very happy and fulfilled and I feel like this book tries to break harmful stereotypes about what it’s like living with a disability. I read it very quickly and enjoyed my time reading it.

I gave it 5 stars.

Love from A to Z by S. K. Ali

This was another contemporary novel, so again, not really my thing, but I was pleasantly surprised by this story! The main character, Adam has just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and he goes home for the holidays to be with his friends and family. He also lost his mother to MS, so along with him coming to terms with his diagnosis, he is faced with having to tell his father and little sister that he might have the same outcome as hs mother. This all happens to the backdrop of Adam finding love, which was very cute! I found the rep in this to be really good and the way it is written to be sensitive and thoughtful. It was pretty good!

I gave it 4.5 stars.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

I had a REALLY hard time reading this book and I knew it was pegged as harmful and just really bad rep, I didn’t think it would make me so angry ad confused. I agree that there is a very bad and harmful rep for the majority of the book, but there are also some things that I can understand, just not in the way it was written or what the author’s intention was, which I just don’t know about. Needless to say, it’s staying in the bad rep category, I’m just still very undecided about my overall thoughts. That will probably be a very long and ranting chapter in the thesis…

I gave it 1 star.

One for All by Lillie Lainoff

I absolutely loved this book and it is probably my favourite from this wrap-up! It was a new release from this year and a really unique historical fiction in which Tania, the MC living with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) wants to become a musketeer like her father. I was swept up in this story and really enjoyed how much I was able to learn about this disability through Tania’s eyes as it’s a fairly rare disease. I also got to talk to the author about her book, and I loved every minute of both the interview and the story.

I gave it 5 stars!

Please Read This Leaflet Carefully by Karen Havelin

This was another book I had a really hard time reading because it deals with endometriosis, which I also suffer from. This book was really unique as it went back in time and back through all the struggles and pain of the main character. I haven’t wrapped my brain around it yet fully, but I really enjoyed the writing style and it (from my point of view) was a very accurate representation of this disease. I felt like I could identify with the MC here again, which only happens very, very rarely for me and my conditions, so definitely really liked it!

I gave it 4.5 stars.

Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz

I read this one a long time ago as well (well, I mean last year, lol!) and I can’t remember that much other than the MC has rheumatoid arthritis and that it’s an #OwnVoices narrative. Again, YA contemporaries are just not my thing anymore, but I enjoyed it and thought it had good chronic pain representation and especially portrayed the everyday life of someone in constant suffering and fatigue.

I gave it 4 stars.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Now… This one surprised me A LOT! I had read this book as a child and watched the 70s film so many times and I remembered that Colin was a sicky kid in a wheelchair and then he sort of miraculously got better. What I didn’t count on was how sexist, racist and ableist this was… Like okay it’s a thing of it’s time and there is nothing we can do about that, but I think it was good rep ONLY in the case of it showing how mentalities of the time were towards people with disabilities or health issues. A.k.a., if you go out in the fresh air and dig in the soil you’ll be cured of everything and anything… Another book going in the negative part of the thesis, but despite these elements, I did enjoy the story overall for its nostalgic feel it had on me. So another confusing one!!

I gave it 3.5 stars.

The True History of the Elephant Man: The Definitive Account of the Tragic and Extraordinary Life of Joseph Carey Merrick by Michael Howell and Peter Ford

Now this book was fascinating but it also made me feel icky. I didn’t like the way it was written to start with but as it went on, I realised that the authors had probably chosen to write in a way that reflected Victorian England and the mentalities surrounding disability, difference and disfigurement of the time; instead of themselves being inherently ableist, but still… Despite that, I actually loved reading about this well-known figure and learning about his life. I’ve got the film from my library to watch also and if you want to learn more about The Elephant Man, I highly recommend this book as I did really enjoy it (once I got over the icky feeling!)

I gave it 5 stars. I realised by the end that it was written to reflect the time and not necessarily the authors’ POV, so decided to give it full stars as the book itself was wonderful in bringing to light all that was and is known about this man. It also finally portrays Joseph Carey Merrick as a human and not a monster, so the ending was actually very clever and well done.

The Wolf and the Water by Josie Jaffrey

This as anothr re-read and I loved it even more on the second go. I also got to talk to Josie about her book and it made it even more special. From the first page, I loved Kala, the MC who has a deformed foot as a consequence of polio. This is an indie historical fiction mystery and the first in a series I believe. The rep in here is really good and I just loved this book fo what it was. Even though I haven’t used Oedipus Rex in my thesis, I’m using this story as a contrast to all those negative and harmful stereotypes of the past!

I gave it 4,5 stars.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

This was the second classic on my list and just as I had been surprised with The Secret Garden, I was surprised with this one too as I actually quite enjoyed it. I mean, it is also really sexist, ableist and racist, but I’m choosing to use these elements as portrayals and reflections of society to fit into my subjet. It is negative rep, but it contributes to showing just how far we have come from mentalities such as these. And if you take those icky bits out, it’s actually quite a fun adventure!

I gave it 4 stars.

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

I have to admit that I didn’t get what I was expecting from this book. It does have a few disabled charaacters, mainly some characters with vision impairments, but it’s hardly ever spoken about. I was kind of surprised about this but I feel like these disabilities were just, unfortunately, used as extra plot points, which is a shame because it could have been used really well. I won’t be using it for my thesis but I thought I would mention it anyway, as I did enjoy the story.

I gave it 3.5 stars but I think I would round it up to 4 stars after having thought on it for a few months.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

This is the last book on my thesis reading list and one I didn’t really have any expectations for, but that I ended up enjoying. I am aware of some controversy surrounding this book that I need to look into more, but on a first read, I liked this book. August, the MC, has a face deformity which is never actually named (one reason for the controversy) and there is a lot of internalised ableism in this book, but I do believe that it has some good intentions especially around showing people that everyone deserves friendship and happiness. As you can probably tell, I’m still in two minds about this one!

I gave it 4.5 stars for the story and the plot, not necessarily for the disability rep as I am still undecided on this point and will need to reread it after doing more research.

And there you have my thesis reading list and wrap-up! I’m quite happy with the books I read for my thesis and have a lot to write about, so I have to get on with that part, lol!

That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed reading this post & let me know if you’ve read any of these books too!

See you soon, stay safe,

Ellie xx

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