Friday, March 01, 2019

Unbroken, ed by Marieke Nijkamp

An anthology of short stories about young people with disabilities, which features a wide variety of approaches to the topic.  Some of the stories are historical, some contemporary, and some outright fantasy.  As a rule, they don't really talk about what disability the character has, and in most of the stories you can't actually tell.  Rather, the focus is on how having any disability affects your personality.

As in any collection like this, some of the stories are better than others.  I particularly liked Heidi Heilig's "The Long Road"(a historical piece about a girl traveling the Silk Road to Persia in search for a cure for her unidentified malady) and Karuna Riazi's "Plus One" (set in Mecca during the haij). Both of these chose unusual settings to tell a beautifully contained and simple story.   Far more exotic was Corinne Duyvis's "A Curse, A Kindness" which explored the interesting idea of being subjected to a curse that forces you to grant people wishes.  I have no idea what that truly had to do with disability, but it was a memorable story.

And that would be my criticism with most of the stories (and the collection overall):  stories that seemed to have so little to do with the theme.  Worse, many of them have nothing to do with anything or are written in such an opaque style that you can't figure out what they are about.  Writing, in other words, that is too clever for its own good and sacrifices story for something obscure.  Those seemed wasted opportunities for what was a great premise for an anthology.

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