disability

Review: A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

A Quiet Kind of Thunder
A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a proof of this book from My Kinda Book in exchange for an honest review.

Last year, I read a great debut novel that became the biggest selling debut YA novel of 2016. That book didn’t have a romance in it, which was (and still is) unusual for YA. Beautiful Broken Things focused on the friendship between two best friends and how that changed when a new friend entered the mix.

Sara Barnard is back in 2017 with a brand new novel, but this one *is* a romance. A Quiet Kind of Thunder is the story of Steffi, a teenage girl with selective mutism embarking on sixth form, and Rhys, a deaf boy who transfers to Steffi’s sixth form.

I’m always wary with books that tackle disability about how realistic and lifelike they are – there’s a really tendency for characters with a disability to be miraculously cured, but AQKOT feels like it has been well-researched and is sensitive. I learnt a lot about mutism and British Sign Language in this book, and it made me more aware and conscious about interacting with deaf people (for example, making sure they can read your lips if they are lip-reading).

This is a really special romance because Barnard gets awkward teenage flirting. The texts between Steffi and Rhys feel so real, and I fell in love with this book so quickly. I can’t really explain how much I loved the romance between these two, but it was cute and adorable and perfect.

I also really enjoyed how this book doesn’t shy away from sex. The sex in this book was realistic and well-done, and felt age-appropriate.

I can’t believe we’re only at the beginning of 2017 and this is already a very strong contender for my favourite book of 2017. An absolute must-read – and the cover is so shiny and beautiful and I think I need it on my shelf (I only have the proof!). Go and buy it now!

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Annalise x

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Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

The One Memory of Flora Banks
The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Disclaimer: Advance Copy received from the Publisher from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

The One Memory of Flora Banks is the story of Flora, who suffers from anterograde amnesia. She can remember everything from before she was 10, but every morning she has to read her story to find out who she is. Flora’s life is confusing for Flora, as she is creating no new memories – that is, not until she kisses her best friend’s ex-boyfriend, which she remembers in all its vibrancy. When Drake moves away to the North Pole, Flora believes she must follow him as he is the key to her gaining her memory back.

Flora’s story was incredibly vivid and realistic for me – it felt like I was in her thoughts and the entire story is written in a really compelling way. The world was also superbly described and vivid, and this makes a perfect winter read. All of the characters in this story are understandable and easy to empathise with, and that’s what really made this book realistic and relatable for me.

The writing here is clever in that Flora’s voice is very young but it’s not for everyone – due to Flora’s condition, there are parts of the novel which feel very repetitive and can easily be glossed over.

One thing that did leave me a little uneasy was this whole trope that the love of a teenage boy can cure you, and I was worried in this book that that’s where it was going. Although it didn’t in the end, opening that entire narrative (when it’s really common in other YA novels) is dangerous, and there are too many books on the market that end in a character being ‘cured’ of their mental illness. This is something that really irks me as it suggests that disability is something that can be and should be cured. I’d love to read more novels where a disabled character simply carries on – and personally, I feel we should have more disabled characters in novels where disability isn’t their entire story.

Overall, a book that perhaps isn’t for everyone, but one that transported me into Flora’s world and kept me reading until the grand reveal.

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annalsie

On Diversity

Hey everyone! It’s been a really hectic month so sorry about the hiatus – I’ve moved house (twice!) and started a new job so things haven’t really settled yet, but I’ve been inspired to finally write this post and would love to hear your thoughts and opinions.

So, this week I started my new (first proper) job, and part of my first week was an induction – a few days of talks about working for the company and its values. One word that was constantly floating around was ‘diversity’, and, to be honest, it made me feel a little uncomfortable.

‘Diversity’ seemed like it was being used as a buzzword, and all this talk about diversity often feels a little empty. It’s great when people point out that something is not diverse, that we need to be targeting and including different groups of society, but without action, pointing out diversity (or the lack thereof) can be a bit pointless. Diversity is also talked about A LOT in YA at the moment, and yet, diverse books are still difficult to find.

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At the event this week, one speaker said that the room was overall, not so diverse. Here’s the problem: diversity is often invisible, and it’s often used to mean racial diversity. I’m not saying that we don’t need more racial diversity (especially in YA, this is something we need to be seeing), but we need to remember other ways people can be diverse.

Disability is close to my heart – I have an invisible illness and I’d say that no-one knows I have it unless I choose to tell them (sidenote: I’ve had friends in the past telling anyone and everyone about my disability without my consent, and you should know that this is NOT COOL). Some forms of disability are visible, and these are the forms of disability people often think of and expect when somebody says they’re disabled. In fact, I’d say a large proportion of people classified as disabled don’t have mobility issues – so many of us are affected by autoimmune diseases and/or mental health issues and often physical, visible disabilities get more attention and sympathy than those which are not so easy to see. Disabilities in YA are often miraculously cured (often by a hot teenage boy with a rebellious streak), and we need to see more accurate depictions of disability.

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Class/socioeconomic background is an aspect of diversity that is often forgotten – social mobility really is an uphill struggle, and not everyone can see themselves in a white, middle class character. It’s not always easy to tell which class a character belongs to – personally, I have a very variable accent which isn’t always so Northern (although I am from Lancashire), and so people often assume I come from a more privileged background than I do. I’d love to see more class issues explored in YA, and it’s definitely one aspect of diversity that is often forgotten.

Political and religious views are often left out of YA – I’d love to see more of them but understand that they can be a problematic subject and a character with wildly different views to your own can be more difficult to understand. If anyone has any recommendations for books that explore these views, I’d love to hear them.

LGBTQIA+ is an aspect of diversity that is becoming more featured in YA, but I want to see more diversity still – so many YA books of the LGBTQIA+ variety are the stories of the coming out of gay men, which is great, but there are so many stories to be told. A book featuring LGBTQIA+ characters doesn’t have to be about ‘coming out’, and it doesn’t even have to be about romance. There’s still so much to do here – I’d love to read more about intersex and/or asexual characters, for example.

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If I’ve left out any aspects of diversity you think we should be talking about, please let me know – and again, if you have any recommendations, please post them down below or message me on twitter (@annalisebooks).

annalsie

Review: One by Sarah Crossan

One
One by Sarah Crossan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was recommended to read this book by #SundayYA, during a twitter conversation about disability in YA. I’m planning on reading more books which feature disability, so if you’ve got any recommendations, send them my way!

Tippi and Grace are conjoined twins, and at sixteen years old, are much older than they were expected to live. As the medical bills money worries pile up, their parents can’t afford to home school them anymore, and they must adjust to starting high school (and the real world).

The book is written in free verse, which is unlike any other book I’ve read before. With only a few words on each page, I sped through this book in about two hours. While I did really enjoy the book, the format has both good and bad sides. The book is easy and quick to read, and I felt the emotional parts of the book were emphasised through the format. However, speeding through the book meant it felt like it lacked some depth for me. Tippi and Grace’s day-to-day lives aren’t really explored in too much detail, which is something I would have liked to see.

The book is also written from the perspective of Grace, which I liked, although maybe a dual POV would have felt more natural.

I loved the family, if only because they were dysfunctional, with their own problems and lives. The characters felt fleshed out and realistic, and I enjoyed the side stories following the other characters. I felt the problems facing conjoined twins were explored in a satisfying, although predictable way.

The reason I can’t give this book 5 stars is simply because there’s no real resolution. Like a lot of YA books I’ve read recently, it comes to this great crescendo, and then the last few pages are just confusion. More epilogues please! That being said, the ending was really well done (except for the confirmation of what actually happened).

I’m really looking forward to reading more books that tackle disability in an interesting way, and this book certainly does that.

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Have you read this book or another about disability? What did you think? Tweet me at @AnnaliseBooks or comment below!

 

Annalise x