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Adult Fiction books featuring characters with a disability

February 10, 2012 | Sara | Comments (2)

Everyone likes to read books with complex and compelling characters that they can relate to, including people who are in some way affected by physical or intellectual disabilities, mental illness, and/ or hearing and vision impairments.  The following list is a sample of some of the adult fiction books available at the Toronto Public Library that feature a diverse range of characters.    


Animal’s People by Indra Sinha (Physical Disability)

Animal’s People tells the story of a 19-year old orphan of Khaufpur who was horribly injured in the 1984 Bhopal chemical disaster.  The effects of chemical exposure caused his bones to become severely twisted, forcing him to walk on all fours resulting in the nickname of Animal.  Despite his severe disability, Animal takes charge of his life rejecting sympathy and continually looking to improve conditions for himself, his pet dog Jara, and the crazy old French nun he lives with named Ma Franci. 


I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb (Mental Illness)

Dominick Birdsey is a 40-year old emotionally unavailable housepainter with an identical twin brother suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. After a horrific incident of self-mutilation by his brother Thomas, Dominick is forced to take charge of his life and deal with his complicated past involving domestic violence, abuse, and his brother’s mental illness.   


House Rules by Jodi Picuolt (Autism/ Aspergers)

Jacob Hunt is a teenage boy with Asperger’s syndrome.  He is hopelessly unable to understand social cues or express his feelings and thoughts to others, including his devoted mother and troubled brother.  Jacob’s special interest and in-depth knowledge of Forensic Science puts him in the spotlight following the disappearance of his social skills tutor, and threatens to tear his life apart. 

The First Man by Albert Camus (Deaf-Mute)

The First Man is a partly autobiographical novel of Camus’ own life growing up in Algeria.  The novel was discovered amidst the wreckage of the car accident that took Camus’ life, and was later transcribed and published by his daughter Catherine.  The novel describes the childhood and experiences of Jacques Cormery, a young boy who develops a strong attachment to his deaf-mute mother, following the death of his father. 


Blindness by Jose Saramago (Blind)

A man is sitting in his car waiting for the traffic light to change when he is suddenly struck blind.  What at first seems to be an isolated case turns into an epidemic when a day later everyone who had contact with the man also suddenly becomes blind.  As the epidemic continues to spread, government officials panic by locking those who have become blind in a mental institution.  


Handle with Care by Jodi Picuolt (Physical Disability)

Charlotte and her husband are struggling to come up with the money needed to pay for their daughter’s mounting medical expenses.  After much deliberation, Charlotte thinks she has found a solution to their problems.  She will file a wrongful birth lawsuit against her ob/gyn for not disclosing the fact that her child would be born with a severe disability.  The payout will cover all of Willow’s medical expenses, but it means that Charlotte will have to stand up in a court and say in front of everyone, including the daughter she loves more than anything, that she would have terminated her pregnancy had she known about the disability beforehand.      


If you have any questions about these books or other materials available at the Toronto Public Library, contact your local branch or call Answerline at 416-393-7131 (TTY 416-393-7030).


The Accessibility Services Blog provides information and updates on current and upcoming library trends, programs, collections, and services to existing and potential TPL customers with disabilities, along with their friends and family. The blog offers a forum through which library customers can interact with TPL and share feedback and ideas, and communicate with staff. Features of the blog include highlights on special collections and assistive technologies available through the library, opportunities to get involved, and staff recommendations for programs, books and other materials.