Sunday, December 31, 2006

Accidents of Nature, by Harriet McBryde Johnson

In this autobiographical tale, 17 year old Jean (who has severe CP) spends a summer at Camp Courage - a "crip camp" for handicapped teens - in 1970. Over ten days, she has a few adventures and meets a more experiences (and more bitter) camper named sara who makes Jean question a little her life and her willingness to play her part in it as the cooperative poster child of disabled people.

As a book that raises serious questions about the way that disabled people were (and are) treated, you really want to like this book. If nothing else, it opens your eyes to the way that the "norms" treat disabled people with condescension and it will inspire many thoughtful essays (warning! book report alert!). HOWEVER, it just doesn't have much of a story. And no matter how educational or socially-agitating a book is, if it lacks a story, it isn't good fiction. Yes, in the end, we have a sense that Jean has undergone a life-changing event, but there is no dramatic arc or storyline to explain how this happened. I'm not asking for connect-the-dots, but something more than just presenting day-to-day facts would have made this interesting fiction. Read this book to learn more about a world you probably have never seen, but don't expect entertainment.

No comments: