Happy Disability Pride Month! As always, we’re celebrating with books, notably books with queer disabled main characters! So pick up a book or five and enjoy! (For even more recs, check out last year’s post!)
Books to Buy Now
Will on the Inside by Andrew Eliopulos
Will loves playing center midfield on his middle school soccer team. This year, though, Will hasn’t felt like himself; his stomach has been bothering him, and he has no energy at all. When his new doctor diagnoses him with Crohn’s disease, Will hopes that means he’ll start feeling better soon and he can get back to playing with his team before the season ends.
But Will’s new medicines come with all kinds of side effects, Forced to sit out afternoon practice, Will finds himself hanging out with a kid at school, Griffin. This could be a real problem, seeing as Griffin just asked Will’s best friend to the spring dance. As in, guy friend. What would Will’s teammates say if they knew the whole story? Not to mention Will’s friends at church.
With all these changes happening faster than he can process them, Will knows that he has a lot to figure out about who he really is on the inside.
The Secret Summer Promise by Keah Brown
THE BSE (Best Summer Ever) LIST!
2. Art show in ShoeHorn
3. Lizzo concert
4. Thrift shop pop-up
5. Skinny Dipping at the lake house
6. Amusement Park Day!
7. Drew Barrymarathon
8. Paintball day
Oh, and ….
9. Fall out of love with Hailee
Andrea Williams has got this. The Best Summer Ever. Two summers ago, she spent all her time in bed, recovering from the latest surgery for her cerebral palsy. She’s waited too long for adventure and thrills to enter her life. Together with her crew of ride-or-die friends, and the best parents anyone could ask for (just don’t tell them that), she’s going to live it up.
There’s just one thing that could ruin it: Her best friend, Hailee, finding out Andrea’s true feelings. So Andrea WILL fall out of love with Hailee – even if it means dating the cute boy George who keeps showing up everywhere with a smile.
Do we want Andrea to succeed? No! Does she? We’re not telling!
This is the Way the World Ends by Jen Wilde
As an autistic scholarship student at the prestigious Webber Academy in New York City, Waverly is used to masking to fit in—in more ways than one. While her classmates are the children of the one percent, Waverly is getting by on tutoring gigs and the generosity of the school’s charming and enigmatic dean. So when her tutoring student and resident “it girl” asks Waverly to attend the school’s annual fundraising Masquerade disguised as her, Waverly jumps at the chance—especially once she finds out that Ash, the dean’s daughter and her secret ex-girlfriend, will be there.
The Masquerade is everything Waverly dreamed of, complete with extravagant gowns, wealthy parents writing checks, and flowing champagne. Most importantly, there’s Ash. All Waverly wants to do is shed her mask and be with her, but the evening takes a sinister turn when Waverly stumbles into a secret meeting between the dean and the school’s top donors—and witnesses a brutal murder. This gala is harboring far more malevolent plots than just opening parents’ pocketbooks. Before she can escape or contact the authorities, a mysterious global blackout puts the entire party on lockdown. Waverly’s fairy tale has turned into a nightmare, and she, Ash, and her friends must navigate through a dizzying maze of freight elevators, secret passageways, and back rooms if they’re going to survive the night.
And even if they manage to escape the Masquerade, with technology wiped out all over the planet, what kind of world will they find waiting for them beyond the doors?
Love Letters for Joy by Melissa See
Less than a year away from graduation, seventeen-year-old Joy is too busy overachieving to be worried about relationships. She’s determined to be Caldwell Prep’s first disabled valedictorian. And she only has one person to beat, her academic rival Nathaniel.
But it’s senior year and everyone seems to be obsessed with pairing up. One of her best friends may be developing feelings for her and the other uses Caldwell’s anonymous love-letter writer to snag the girl of her dreams. Joy starts to wonder if she has missed out on a quintessential high school experience. She is asexual, but that’s no reason she can’t experience first love, right?
She writes to Caldwell Cupid to help her sort out these new feelings and, over time, finds herself falling for the mysterious voice behind the letters. But falling in love might mean risking what she wants most, especially when the letter-writer turns out to be the last person she would ever expect.
The Luis Ortega Survival Club by Sonora Reyes
Ariana Ruiz wants to be noticed. But as an autistic girl who never talks, she goes largely ignored by her peers despite her bold fashion choices. So when cute, popular Luis starts to pay attention to her, Ari finally feels seen.
Luis’s attention soon turns to something more and they have sex at a party—while Ari didn’t say no, she definitely didn’t say yes. Before she has a chance to process what happened and decide if she even has the right to be mad at Luis, the rumor mill begins churning—thanks, she’s sure, to Luis’s ex-girlfriend, Shawni. Boys at school now see Ari as an easy target, someone who won’t say no.
Then Ari finds a mysterious note in her locker which eventually leads her to an unlikely group of students determined to expose Luis for the predator he is. To her surprise, she finds genuine friendship among the group, including her growing feelings for the very last girl she expected to fall for. But in order to take Luis down, she’ll have to come to terms with the truth of what he did to her that night—and risk everything to see justice done.
When the Angels Left the Old Country by Sacha Lamb
Uriel the angel and Little Ash (short for Ashmedai) are the only two supernatural creatures in their shtetl (which is so tiny, it doesn’t have a name other than Shtetl). The angel and the demon have been studying together for centuries, but pogroms and the search for a new life have drawn all the young people from their village to America. When one of those young emigrants goes missing, Uriel and Little Ash set off to find her.
Along the way the angel and demon encounter humans in need of their help, including Rose Cohen, whose best friend (and the love of her life) has abandoned her to marry a man, and Malke Shulman, whose father died mysteriously on his way to America.
But there are obstacles ahead of them as difficult as what they’ve left behind. Medical exams (and demons) at Ellis Island. Corrupt officials, cruel mob bosses, murderers, poverty. The streets are far from paved with gold.
With cinematic sweep and tender observation, Sacha Lamb presents a totally original drama about individual purpose, the fluid nature of identity, and the power of love to change and endure.
Leg: the Story of a Limb and the Boy Who Grew From It by Greg Marshall
Greg Marshall’s early years were pretty bizarre. Rewind the VHS tapes (this is the nineties) and you’ll see a lopsided teenager limping across a high school stage, or in a wheelchair after leg surgeries, pondering why he’s crushing on half of the Utah Jazz. Add to this home video footage a mom clacking away at her newspaper column between chemos, a dad with ALS, and a cast of foulmouthed siblings. Fast forward the tape and you’ll find Marshall happily settled into his life as a gay man only to discover he’s been living in another closet his whole life: he has cerebral palsy. Here, in the hot mess of it all, lies Greg Marshall’s wellspring of wit and wisdom.
Leg is an extraordinarily funny and insightful memoir from a daring new voice. Packed with outrageous stories of a singular childhood, it is also a unique examination of what it means to transform when there are parts of yourself you can’t change, a moving portrait of a family in crisis, and a tale of resilience of spirit. In Marshall’s deft hands, we see a story both personal and universal—of being young and wanting the world, even when the world doesn’t feel like yours to want.
Books to Preorder
The Year My Life Went Down the Toilet by Jake Maia Arlow (August 1, 2023)
Twelve-year-old Al Schneider is too scared to talk about the two biggest things in her life:
1. Her stomach hurts all the time and she has no idea why.
2. She’s almost definitely 100% sure she likes girls.
So she holds it in…until she can’t. After nearly having an accident of the lavatorial variety in gym class, Al finds herself getting a colonoscopy and an answer—she has Crohn’s disease.
But rather than solving all her problems, Al’s diagnosis just makes everything worse. It’s scary and embarrassing. And worst of all, everyone wants her to talk about it—her overprotective mom, her best friend, and most annoyingly her gastroenterologist, who keeps trying to get her to go to a support group for kids with similar chronic illnesses. But, who wants to talk about what you do in the bathroom?
Stars in Their Eyes by Jessica Walton and Aska (August 1, 2023)
Maisie is on her way to Fancon! She’s looking forward to meeting her idol, Kara Bufano, the action hero from her favorite TV show, who has a lower-leg amputation, just like Maisie. But when Maisie and her mom arrive at the convention center, she is stopped in her tracks by Ollie, a cute volunteer working the show. They are kind, charming, and geek out about nerd culture just as much as Maisie does. And as the day wears on, Maisie notices feelings for Ollie that she’s never had before. Is this what it feels like to fall in love?
The Spirit Bares its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White (September 5, 2023)
Mors vincit omnia. Death conquers all.
London, 1883. The Veil between the living and dead has thinned. Violet-eyed mediums commune with spirits under the watchful eye of the Royal Speaker Society, and sixteen-year-old Silas Bell would rather rip out his violet eyes than become an obedient Speaker wife. According to Mother, he’ll be married by the end of the year. It doesn’t matter that he’s needed a decade of tutors to hide his autism; that he practices surgery on slaughtered pigs; that he is a boy, not the girl the world insists on seeing.
After a failed attempt to escape an arranged marriage, Silas is diagnosed with Veil sickness—a mysterious disease sending violet-eyed women into madness—and shipped away to Braxton’s Sanitorium and Finishing School. The facility is cold, the instructors merciless, and the students either bloom into eligible wives or disappear. So when the ghosts of missing students start begging Silas for help, he decides to reach into Braxton’s innards and expose its rotten guts to the world—as long as the school doesn’t break him first.
The Problem with Gravity by Michelle Mohrweis (September 26, 2023)
Autistic seventh-grader Maggie Weir loves spacecraft, but aerospace engineering isn’t the only thing that gives her butterflies: she’s got a secret crush on an eighth grader—the amazing, baton-twirling Tatum Jones. And they’ve just teamed up for an engineering contest! It might be the perfect chance for Maggie to tell Tatum how she feels, except . . .
Tatum is focused on outshining her genius twin brother, and Maggie’s forgetfulness isn’t making a great impression. Still, there’s something about the quirky girl with a messy backpack that sets Tatum’s heart aflutter. But before they can finish designing a low-gravity cabinet, Maggie reveals that her dad wants to move to Houston.
Now, Maggie must choose: Does she follow her dad and her dreams of NASA? Or does she stay with her mom to be near Tatum? If the stars are meant to align between these two, they’ll both have to fully realize their feelings for each other before Maggie leaves forever.
Being Ace ed. by Madeline Dyer (October 1, 2023)
Discover the infinite realms of asexual love across sci-fi, fantasy, and contemporary stories
From a wheelchair user racing to save her kidnapped girlfriend and a little mermaid who loves her sisters more than suitors, to a slayer whose virgin blood keeps attracting monsters, the stories of this anthology are anything but conventional. Whether adventuring through space, outsmarting a vengeful water spirit, or surviving haunted cemeteries, no two aces are the same in these 14 unique works that highlight asexual romance, aromantic love, and identities across the asexual spectrum.
Lulu Sinagtala and the City of Noble Warriors by Gail D. Villanueva (January 9, 2024)
Copy is not yet available, but per the announcement, the protagonist has epilepsy.
Paige Not Found by Jen Wilde (April 16, 2024)
As much as Paige hates the word normal, it’s a pretty good word to describe her life, and the kind of night she was having just before a single email turned her world upside down.
In an effort to better understand and communicate with their autistic daughter, Paige’s parents enrolled her in a study without her consent. Without her knowledge they had a chip implanted in her brain that keeps track of her location and brain activity. It can boost the chemicals that affect her mood. Suddenly, Paige isn’t sure who she can trust. Can she even trust her own mind anymore?
Now the company that created her chip is days away from merging with the most popular social network in the world, that has a reputation for selling people’s private information to the highest bidder.
Paige feels betrayed and like she’s been robbed of her free will. But there is one thing she can do. The email includes the names and addresses of the other kids involved in the study. She can track them down and show them what’s been done to them.
Maybe altogether they can put a stop to this merger and figure out how to get their chips removed for good.