Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens edited by Marieke Nijkamp

Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens edited by Marieke Nijkamp. September 18, 2018. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 320 p. ISBN: 9780374306502.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

This anthology explores disability in fictional tales told from the viewpoint of disabled characters, written by disabled creators. With stories in various genres about first loves, friendship, war, travel, and more, Unbroken will offer today’s teen readers a glimpse into the lives of disabled people in the past, present, and future.

The contributing authors are awardwinners, bestsellers, and newcomers including Kody Keplinger, Kristine Wyllys, Francisco X. Stork, William Alexander, Corinne Duyvis, Marieke Nijkamp, Dhonielle Clayton, Heidi Heilig, Katherine Locke, Karuna Riazi, Kayla Whaley, Keah Brown, and Fox Benwell. Each author identifies as disabled along a physical, mental, or neurodiverse axis―and their characters reflect this diversity.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Mild sexual themes

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 1))
Grades 9-12. The 13 stories in this brilliant anthology feature teenagers with physical disabilities, mental illness, anxiety disorders, or autism. The authors of the stories are all people with various disabilities as well, and the stories themselves cover a range of genres. In the realistic “Britt and the Bike God,” by Kody Keplinger, a girl with retinitis pigmentosa rides the “stoker,” or back seat, of a tandem bicycle in her father’s biking club, and she’s both thrilled and horrified when her crush, a boy she thinks of as the “bike god,” is assigned to be her “captain.” Katherine Locke’s “Per Aspera Ad Astra” features a girl with agoraphobia who must overcome her disorder to save her planet. An abandoned carnival is the setting for the creepy “The Leap and the Fall,” by Kayla Whaley, with a protagonist in a wheelchair who must summon the will to rescue a friend, while Dhonielle Clayton’s advice columnist heroine in “Dear Nora James, You Know Nothing of Love” learns to not let her irritable bowel syndrome control her life. The stories feature wide variety and high quality, but most important, none of the teens at the center of the stories are defined by their disabilities. Teens disappointed by the lack of nuanced depictions of disability in YA fiction will cheer for these compassionate, engaging, and masterfully written stories.

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 1, 2018)
Thirteen realistic, fantasy, and science-fiction stories starring disabled teenagers. These tales feature teens with different mental illnesses and physical, sensory, and intellectual disabilities, but all share common threads: no overcoming disability, magical healing, or disability-as-metaphor; just kids shaped by their bodies and minds, their experiences, and the worlds they inhabit. The #ownvoices tales (all by disabled authors) feature a few standouts. Schneider Award winner Francisco X. Stork’s (Disappeared, 2017, etc.) protagonist is a cognitively disabled Mexican immigrant who hears voices and who makes a friend. Dhonielle Clayton’s (The Belles, 2018, etc.) heroine, a black girl with gastrointestinal disease, pens an advice column. William Alexander (A Festival of Ghosts, 2018, etc.) offers a cane-using Latinx boy with chronic pain who accidentally animates the spirit of Richard III. Disability drives the plots at different levels: Corinne Duyvis’ (On the Edge of Gone, 2016, etc.) cursed wish-granter, a 17-year-old girl who likes girls, may not even be noticeably autistic to some neurotypical readers, while the anxiety of Katherine Locke’s (The Spy with the Red Balloon, 2018, etc.) programming heroine might prevent her from saving her city during an extraplanetary attack. Heidi Heilig’s (For a Muse of Fire, 2018, etc.) heroine has mania and depression in ancient China, where her condition is seen as bad fate. For intersectional representations of disabled kids leading complex lives—sometimes painful, sometimes funny, never sentimentally inspirational—a vital collection. (Anthology. 13-17)

About the Editor

Marieke Nijkamp is the #1 New York Timesbestselling author of This Is Where It Ends. She is a storyteller, dreamer, globe-trotter, and geek. 

She currently resides in her home country, the Netherlands. Her website is www.mariekenijkamp.com/

Around the Web

Unbroken on Amazon

Unbroken on Barnes & Noble

Unbroken on Goodreads

Unbroken Publisher Page

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