Today’s 3 Books, 3 Blogs comes from Gemma at Wheelescapades. I was very excited to discover Gemma’s blog and even happier when she decided to guest post for me here!
3 Books –
Spoiler alert! There will be mini spoilers throughout, although I won’t give away any endings, I don’t feel I can fully give my opinion without giving away some details. So you’ve been warned!
One of my main focuses at Wheelescapades is getting disability out there, making it the norm. I have decided to introduce to you 3 books where the lead character have a disability.
What I like about all 3 of these books is the way that disability has influenced the character’s destiny, and that of those around them, in a positive way. They also display that disability doesn’t define the character, each has a very different personality and perspective on life.
The way each character influences and enhances the lives of others. Makes them see things differently. Do things they never would have done. Feel things they never would have felt.
OK so, as I’m discussing books with disability at the forefront I couldn’t not discuss Me Before You. So that is where we will start!
The tale, that in some ways reminds me of a fairytale, of Will a quadriplegic and his carer/assistant Lou.
In a small British town lives Louisa Clark, still living with her parents, no ambitions or aspirations to leave or change her life, sees her long term (extremely irritating) boyfriend a couple of times a week. Lou is stuck in a rut, in a lifestyle that just came upon her. A lifestyle of repetition.
After being made redundant from the only job she has ever had, at the Buttered Bun, with limited qualifications and experience Louisa is running out of options, there aren’t many jobs around, the recession is in full swing, Lou will take any job she can get. That job being Personal Care Assistant to recent quadriplegic (very rich) Will Traynor.
Will lives on his parents estate (not due to choice) near the town’s castle. Just a short bus journey to the other side of town, yet socially a totally different world for Lou. Before Will’s accident he lived a successful and exhilarating life in London. Now Will is entirely dependent on others (he also has a nurse, Nathan). Will hates this, Will hates his new life, and more than anything Will hates anyone that tries to tell him what to do. Will resents anybody that doesn’t fully understand his anguish about his sudden life change. The last thing he needs is a quirky, chatty, optimistic Louisa ruining his gloom.
The pair begin to spark off each other, the banter begins, and slowly Will’s invisible wall is broken down. He and Lou develop an endearing relationship, understand each other’s fears and weaknesses, and grow from each other.
Will this be enough to help Will with the biggest decision of his life….. Dignatas. Will wants to end his life, this life that has been thrown upon him, with assisted suicide. Will wants to die.
It raised a lot of controversy and differing opinions last summer when the film adaptation was released. During this time I kept fairly quiet among disability groups, leaving them to their rage.
There was talk of the film portraying that it ‘is better to be dead than disabled’, I’d like to state here that I read the book first (obviously) and I have a disability, one that has much in common with Will’s (only I have always been disabled so didn’t have a complete life turnaround in the way that he did) in my opinion the book does not suggest to me that my life is worthless.
It’s difficult when a book is adapted into a film, it can attract an entirely different audience. Also it is no longer the readers job to create a character and their expressions, it is the actors. Celebrity also attracts attention, sometimes the wrong kind of attention. I’d like to add here that I also watched the film, in the cinema, a good few months after reading the book. Again I did not feel as though my life is worthless and a burden on others.
It’s funny how the book had been released 4 years before the film was made, and never received the level of controversy the film did.
We all know this book is a work of fiction, but there are people out there like Will, in the same situation as Will, with the same feelings as him. They have every right to those feelings and beliefs. We are each an individual, no life is the same, and we shouldn’t judge. We also shouldn’t batch everyone as having the same feelings and thoughts.
After all not all little Japanese girls are serial killers!
Well I’m glad I’ve got that off my chest! I do apologise for the semi rant, my next 2 books don’t raise quite the same emotion in me, so these shouldn’t be nearly as rambley!
Next up is a book with a totally different kind of disability at the forefront. Let me introduce you to Christopher Boone.
Christopher Boone is 15. He lives with his Dad and pet rat. He obsesses and excels in Maths, he intends on becoming an astronaut. He despises the colours yellow and brown, the best colour being red. Colour coding makes life simpler. Christopher sees and remembers everything, but cannot prioritise. He knows all the countries of the world and their capital cities, he can recite every prime number up to 7,507. Christopher takes everything he is told literal, as fact. He does not chat.
Christopher has Aspergers, or so the writing suggests, it is never actually stated. Christopher has never been further than the end of the road by himself, well that’s until he discovers his neighbour’s dog has been murdered. Then Christopher must turn amateur detective and find out what happened to Wellington.
Written entirely from the view point of Christopher this book is simply constructed in facts. It gives us as a reader an eye opening perspective of the world. The world as is very real to Christopher. Baffled by emotions, and unable to decider feelings and opinions he goes on a mission to catch Wellington’s murderer. Following evidence and questioning neighbours, leads Christopher on a journey, physically and metaphorically, that he may never have ventured on before.
If you’ve not yet read this book then I suggest you do. If you’ve read this book but haven’t yet seen the stage show, then I suggest you go. It’s one of the most intense, imaginative and mind absorbing plays I’ve ever seen. Jarring sounds, flashing lights and an incredible stage set allows the audience to be immersed inside the head of Christopher Boone.
Last up is the heartwarming, laugh out loud journey of unlikely buddies Trevor and Ben.
Benjamin Benjamin (yes that’s his actual name) is nearing 40, he has lost everything, the future is looking bleak. Desperate for money and little job prospects Ben undertakes a short course in ‘caregiving’ (I’m not sure about this term, it’s quite American, I prefer Personal Assistant or Care Assistant than Caregiver, but eh that’s not important).
Run in the basement of a local church Ben is taught care plans, checklists, catheters, liability and professional boundaries. None of which is really applicable when he meets his first client Trevor Conklin.
Trevor is a typical 19 year old teen, potty mouthed, independent, extremely stubborn, fascinated with the female body, and addicted to video games.
Trevor is also in the advanced stages of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
Unsure if he has taken on more than he can handle, Ben seems overwhelmed at first by the care needs of Trevor and his angst ridden personality.
The two soon develop a camaraderie, a bromance, a love hate relationship of banter. Ben assisting and daring Trevor to achieve his goals, (one of which is taking a pee whilst standing!) while coming to terms with his own demons.
One of Trevor’s hobbies (he doesn’t have many) is to mark on a giant wall map Places he will never see, attractions he will never visit.
Trevor is a bit of a recluse, partly due to his disability, but mainly due to his mere stubbornness and inability to see a different life.
That’s until the pair decide to take a road trip, ticking off some of the wall maps destinations, and visiting Trevor’s regretful, inadequate, clueless, but not uncaring father. He just doesn’t know how to act around Trevor, around Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
Medical notes, respirator, medications and insurance cards at the ready the pair set off on an adventure that will stay with them both forever. Along the way they pick up some interesting characters, each with issues of their own. A chaotic journey with wrong turns, Trevor falling ill, and a kiss from a girl, somehow Ben manages to take care of everyone and everything. Gradually building himself back up again and facing his past.
Interspersed between images of the growing ‘bromance’ relationship between Trev and Ben we are given snippets of Ben’s past.. Snapshots of family life, holidays, children and an horrific incident.
Although dealing with some serious and difficult subjects, this novel turned Netflix film is primarily a comedy, bursting with humour and some lovable characters, this is a comedy with sometimes very dark jokes, (and hard hitting truths) as Trevor can be quite fond of feigning his own death!
3 Blogs –
So obviously I’d recommend you read and follow Lorna here at Gin & Lemonade, but I don’t think that’s part of the rules, and you’re here, so job done.
I’m going to introduce you to 3 very different blogs that I enjoy reading, I am thoroughly entertained by them all.
As a fan of the written and spoken word, I literally learn something new after every read of this blog!
The title says it all really, bitesized thoughts about the English Language. Origins of words, slang terms, different meanings in different languages, historical relevance, context, punctuation.
If you have an interest in language, enjoy learning the quirks of language, then I suggest you have wander over here.
Grab a coffee (as there’s plenty of it over at Fancy Paper) and delve into the world of parenthood. This incredibly honest and witty blog discusses life as a new parent, how to balance life as a ‘Mammy’ while still holding on to your ‘self’. This is a blog that really makes me laugh, while at the same time resonates with me, (even though I am not a parent) what it’s like adapting to the changes in our lives, but still holding on to our original selves. If you’re someone that likes to see things from the glass half full point of view, enjoy a slice of cake, and a quirky sense of humour, then follow Fancy Paper and her parenting tales.
I’m getting on a bit now, I’m 32, and although I do identify with many younger bloggers, it’s really great to have found a more mature blog I can relate to. (I don’t mean mature in a bad way!) Her writing is exciting and passionate, it’s like reading something your friend has written! A fellow rambler like me.
Kerry blogs about a bit of everything, and this is one of the things that keeps me reading. I love a lifestyle blog, (but I’m not all that into beauty), and this one has a great mix of topics. Slices of Kerry’s family life, musings, travel, product reviews and food. If you like a lucky dip then this a blog for you!
So that’s me done, I hope these may be of interest to you. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Thank you to Lorna for giving me this little bit of space on her blog, somewhere in the ether.
No, thank you, Gemma. You can ramble at my blog anytime!
Connect with Gemma on:
What are your thoughts on Gemma’s picks?
And if you’d like to share your own book and blog picks, email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s talk!
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