The article Redefining Normal: A Critical Analysis of (Dis)ability in Young Adult Literature displays the importance of offering realistic portrayals of disabled characters. Disabled characters allow for readers who are also disabled to have representation and feel connected to the character. Often times characters with disabilities are only seen in the background, they’re portrayed negatively, or they are used in order to gain pity from the audience. However, there are books provided that do illustrate an example of a realistic portrayal of a disabled person. These young adult novels include Jerk, California, Marcelo in the Real World, and Five Flavors of Dumb. All of the novels include strong main characters that are all able to come to terms with their own disabilities despite efforts of others to make them feel less normal.

Similarly, Sherman Alexie wrote The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian in relation to his own life. In the novel, he explores the struggles he faced with his own condition of hydrocephalus, after his successful surgery there were side effects. As seen in The Absolutely True Diary, these side effects left him to be bullied. Similarly, to the main characters in the novels above he was bullied for being “abnormal.” However, that doesn’t deter him from attempting to achieve his goals and leave his reservation. Furthermore,  Sherman Alexie incorporates various topics that are deemed as ‘inappropriate’ but, they are mostly in relation to teenage lives. His writing also allows for teenagers to feel connected and in other ways to allow themselves to come to terms and cope with the similar issues he presents. Therefore, all of the novels include a greater purpose of encouraging young readers to not allow their differences to hinder them from possible achievements.

–  Naomi Bracho




2 Comments so far

  1.    Asim Shariff on October 6, 2016 12:33 am

    I agree with you that the article shows that characters with disabilities are being misrepresented in the text. I also agree with you that Alexie tries to help people through his text. He allows the readers to relate to his text and that allows them to learn from those characters.

  2.    Christopher Khaimraj on October 7, 2016 12:12 am

    I agree that Alexie tries to help people through his text and allows all kinds of people to have something to relate to. The problems that Arnold experiences in the book are similar to what many teenagers face in life such as fitting in and making friends. He created a medium that people can relate to and potentially find a way to cope with the issues they are facing.

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