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Recommended Reads: People with Disabilities in Fiction

Man is harder than rock and more fragile than an egg. – Yugoslav Proverb

Success is not measured by the heights one attains, but by the obstacles one overcomes in its attainment. - Booker T. Washington

In the past, many books that featured persons with disabilities have presented them in stereotypical or unflattering ways. At times, especially in romances, a blind character would get their sight back by the end of the story, as if that was the only way there could be a happy ending.

However, in recent years, persons with disabilities have been shown as people going through life with challenges and hardships but with the ability to persevere and even come out ahead. They are treated in a more multi-dimensional light. Reading these books helps others to learn about disabilities in a more realistic way, or if the person reading has a disability themselves, gives them the ability to talk to others about their own experiences.

Below is a list of titles you might be interested in reading which portray people with disabilities in a more realistic way.

Recorded cassette (RC), digital book (DB), braille (BR), and large print (LT) copies of these books are available from the Perkins Braille & Talking Book Library. Please contact the library to order any of these books.

Prepared by Vicki Vogt, Reader’s Advisor
Perkins Braille & Talking Book Library

A Cousin's Challenge by Wanda Brunstetter.
DB 71213, LT 10553 (Available as a BARD Download)
Amish schoolteacher Jolene Yoder, who lost her hearing two years ago, returns home to Indiana after learning sign language and lip reading in Pennsylvania. Jolene teaches two nonhearing children and assists newly deaf bachelor Lonnie Hershberger. Meanwhile Jake Beechy falls in love with Jolene's cousin Ella Miller. 2010.

A Version of the Truth by Jennifer Kaufman.
BR 17476, DB/RC 65811 (Available as a BARD Download)
Topanga Canyon, California. Widowed, dyslexic, high school dropout Cassie lies on her resumé to obtain a local university job assisting animal behavior professor Conner. Cassie, already a wildlife expert, discovers a different world of education, refinement, and love. Strong language and some descriptions of sex. Bestseller. 2008.

Adam's Fall by Sandra Brown.
BR 9428, DB/RC 37640, LT 101
Lilah Mason would do almost anything for her sister Elizabeth. But what Elizabeth is asking her to do now is impossible. Lilah cannot stand Adam Cavanaugh, her sister's boss. Although Adam has a serious spinal cord injury, Lilah, an excellent physical therapist, refuses to help him. But Elizabeth convinces her to try, and when Lilah arrives in Hawaii to work with Adam, the sparks fly! Some strong language and explicit descriptions of sex. Bestseller. 1993.

Addition by Toni Jordan.
DB 70507 (Available as a BARD Download)
Melbourne, Australia. Thirty-five-year-old former teacher Grace Lisa Vandenburg has lived on medical disability ever since her obsessive-compulsive disorder interfered with her duties. Grace seeks treatment after she falls for Seamus Joseph O'Reilly, but chemical side effects erase her sense of self. Strong language and some explicit descriptions of sex. 2008.

Alive Day by Tom Sullivan.
BR18545, DB/RC 69912, LT 9983 (Available as a BARD Download)
Blind psychiatrist Brenden McCarthy treats marine corporal Antwone Carver, an Iraq War veteran who is paralyzed from the waist down. Antwone struggles with his disability but finds inspiration with the help of therapy, medication, and Brenden's lovable guide dog, Nelson. Sequel to Together (BR 17900). 2009.

Chasing Fireflies: A Novel of Discovery by Charles Martin.
DB/RC 68173 (Available as a BARD Download)
Glynn County, Georgia. A suicidal woman ousts a boy from her car before fatally colliding with a train. Reporter Chase Walker follows up with the orphan--"Snoot"--whose history of abuse and neglect echoes Chase's childhood. Snoot, an artistic prodigy who does not speak, soon captures the reporter's heart. Christy Award. 2007.

Diminished Capacity by Sherwood Kiraly.
DB/RC 68559 (Available as a BARD Download)
Chicago journalist Cooper Zerbs, coping with a brain injury, goes back to his hometown in Missouri to help his Uncle Rollie, who is slipping into dementia. Rollie hopes to sell a valuable Cubs baseball card in Chicago to raise enough money to stay in his house. Strong language. 1995.

House Rules by Jodi Picoult.
BR 18863, DB 71010, LT 10548 (Available as a BARD Download)
Eighteen-year-old Jacob Hunt, who has Asperger's syndrome, lives with his mother and younger brother and has a social-skills tutor. Jacob is obsessed with forensic science. When a murder occurs in Jacob's small world, both his hobby and his condition make him a suspect. Strong language. Bestseller. 2010.

Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio.
DB/RC 49152, LT 2571
Growing up in the 1950s in a small Kentucky town, Icy realizes that she is different from the other kids. She endures alienation at school and a stay in the state hospital while gradually coming to terms with her Tourette Syndrome. Some strong language. 1998.

Intent to Kill by James Grippando.
DB/RC 68029, LT 8702 (Available as a BARD Download)
Boston. After his wife Chelsea died in a car crash, Ryan James quit baseball and became a radio talk-show host. Now, three years later, prosecutor Emma Carlisle receives a cryptic letter linking the accident to Chelsea's brother, Babes, who has Asperger's syndrome. Then Babes disappears. Violence and strong language. 2008.

Into the Fire by Suzanne Brockmann.
DB/RC 67553, LT 8735 (Available as a BARD Download)
Ex-marine Vinh Murphy is implicated in the assassination of Tim Ebersole, head of the neo-Nazi Freedom Network that Vinh blames for his wife Angelina's murder. Vinh turns to his former associates at Troubleshooters Inc.--and Angelina's hearing-impaired friend Hannah Whitfield--for help. Strong language, explicit descriptions of sex, and some violence. 2008.

Island of Bones by P. J. Parrish.
DB/RC 70419 (Available as a BARD Download)
South Florida. Diane Woods hires African American cop-turned-PI Louis Kincaid to investigate her father, whom she believes is involved in the death of a woman whose bullet-ridden body washed ashore after a hurricane. Louis works with officer Mel Landeta, who is losing his eyesight. Strong language and some violence. 2004.

Jerk, California by Jonathan Friesen.
BR 18379, DB/RC 68141 (Available as a BARD Download)
Isolated at school and tormented by his stepdad, Minnesota high school senior Sam Carrier feels defined by his Tourette syndrome. But long-distance running, his deceased father's friend George, a girl named Naomi, and a road trip to Jerk, California, change his perspective. Some strong language. For senior high readers. 2008.

Jimmy by Robert Whitlow.
DB 70679 (Available as a BARD Download)
Twelve-year-old adoptee Jimmy Mitchell is developmentally disabled, but his faith, inherent goodness, and belief in spirits he calls "watchers" see him through many challenges. Jimmy testifies at a trial, endures a custody battle, and manages a football team--but real trouble comes from one of his lawyer dad's former clients. 2005.

Lost Girls by George Shuman.
DB/RC 68334 (Available as a BARD Download)
When a mountain climber is found dead in Alaska, blind psychic Sherry Moore uses her gift of seeing a corpse's last thoughts in hopes of finding the victim's fellow climbers. Instead, visions lead Moore to a Caribbean slave-trafficking ring and a missing girl's mother. Strong language and some violence. 2008.

Paradise Valley: A Virgin River Novel by Robyn Carr.
DB 71138, LT 10689 (Available as a BARD Download)
Marine Rick Sudder returns home to Virgin River after losing his leg in Iraq. Rick despairs about his future, but his girlfriend Liz and others offer their encouragement. Meanwhile stranger Dan Brady lands in town looking to begin anew. Strong language and explicit descriptions of sex. 2009.

Sisters by Danielle Steel.
BR 16876, DB/RC 63495, LT 7183
Four siblings pull together during a family crisis. After their mother is tragically killed and sister Annie, an artist, is blinded, supermodel Candy, television producer Tammy, and lawyer Sabrina move into a New York townhouse to grieve and cope. Some descriptions of sex and some strong language. Bestseller. Commercial audiobook. 2007.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova.
DB/RC 68429 (Available as a BARD Download)
As she turns fifty and begins experiencing odd lapses of memory, Harvard psychology professor Alice Howland gets the life-altering diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Her lecturing and traveling for work, and her relationships with her scientist husband and grown children, morph along with the disease. Some strong language. Bestseller. 2007.

Thaw by Monica Roe.
DB/RC 68804 (Available as a BARD Download)
Paralyzed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, eighteen-year-old champion skier Dane Rafferty is sent from New York State to a rehabilitation center in Florida. Dane's arrogance gradually fades as he contends with his physical limitations. Meanwhile, Carissa visits her comatose father across the hall. Strong language. For senior high readers. 2008.

The Blind Contessa's New Machine by Carey Wallace.
DB 71568, LT 11402 (Available as a BARD Download)
Early nineteenth-century Italy. Contessa Carolina tells her parents and fiancé she is going blind, but they won't listen. Only local eccentric Turri believes her. He invents a machine--a typewriter--for her, and the two fall in love. Based on a true story. Commercial audiobook. 2010.

The Broken Window by Jeffery Deaver.
DB/RC 68762, LT 8714 (Available as a BARD Download)
When his cousin Arthur is accused of murder, quadriplegic criminalist Lincoln Rhyme suspects Arthur was framed. As Lincoln and New York detective Amelia Sachs investigate, they connect the crime to a killer who uses computer data-mining software to pick his victims. Violence and strong language. Bestseller. 2008.

The Fault Tree by Louise Ure.
DB/RC 66478 (Available as a BARD Download)
By the vehicle's unique sound, blind Tucson auto mechanic Cadence Moran can identify the getaway car used after a neighbor's murder. When the killers come for her too, Cadence tries to convince the police she's a reliable witness. Violence and strong language. 2007.

The Gift by Richard Paul Evans.
DB/RC 67253, LT 7755 (Available as a BARD Download)
Snowed in at the Denver airport, Nate Hurst--a retail store detective with Tourette's Syndrome--shares lodgings with divorcée Addison Park and her children, Lizzy and Collin. Collin cures Nate's symptoms, and soon the public discovers Collin's healing gift. But as demand for his services grows, Collin himself becomes more sickly. 2007.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski.
BR 17799, DB/RC 66656, LT 8972 (Available as a BARD Download)
Wisconsin, 1970s. Gar and Trudy Sawtelle raise an intuitive and intelligent dog breed on their farm. One dog, Almondine, can communicate with the Sawtelle's mute son Edgar. After Gar's brother arrives, Gar dies and fourteen-year-old Edgar flees into the forest with three of the dogs. Some strong language. Bestseller. 2008.

Together: A Novel of Shared Vision by Tom Sullivan.
BR 17980, DB/RC 67040, LT 8760 (Available as a BARD Download)
Colorado. Twenty-five-year-old Brenden McCarthy is a first-year medical resident and an avid mountain climber until a climbing accident blinds him. Now Brenden's widowed mother wants to care for him and his fiancée considers leaving him, while Brenden enters rehabilitation and gets a guide dog--thrice-rejected black Labrador Nelson. 2008.

Twenty Wishes by Debbie Macomber.
BR 17790, DB/RC 66637, LT 8920 (Available as a BARD Download)
Four widows--Anne Marie, Lillie, Barbie, and Elise--meet at Anne Marie's bookstore, and each makes twenty wishes to improve her life. Anne Marie assists Ellen, an at-risk child; Barbie meets Mark, who uses a wheelchair; Elise starts a foundation in memory of her husband; and Lillie falls in love. Bestseller. 2008.

Visibility by Boris Starling.
DB/RC 67417 (Available as a BARD Download)
London, 1952. The body of a murdered young scientist who claimed to hold a world-changing secret is discovered amid a thick, noxious smog. Scotland Yard detective Herbert Smith, formerly of MI5, and blind police diver Hannah Mortimer uncover an international conspiracy. Some descriptions of sex and some strong language. 2006.

Wake by Robert Sawyer.
BR 18658, DB/RC 69237 (Available as a BARD Download)
When a Japanese researcher proposes another eye operation to the tech-savvy, mathematical genius and blind fifteen-year-old Caitlin, she jumps at the chance to have an experimental signal-processing implant inserted behind her eye. But instead of sight, Caitlin's mind visualizes the Internet and detects an enigmatic entity within. 2009.