05 Aug / Disability Visibility (Adapted for Young Adults): First-Person Stories for Today edited by Alice Wong [in School Library Journal]
“This is the book I wish I had as a teenager,” disability rights activist Alice Wong reveals, choosing 17 stories for this adaptation from the 37 in her 2020 original. As editor, Wong again reads her introduction. While none could dispute that Wong is a powerful activist, some listeners might be challenged in understanding her speech; having the print version beside would ensure not missing a word.
Sarah Ann Masse and Anthony Michael Lopez take turns with the diverse essays that follow; both read with total empathy – Masse is an actor/comedian with invisible disabilities, Lopez is a queer disabled actor.
Masse’s standouts include ciphering Haben Girma’s joy from replacing her cane with a guide dog—“imagine switching from a bicycle to a Tesla” – in “Guide Dogs Don’t Lead Blind People. We Wander as One.” Lopez is especially memorable in Eugene Grant’s “The Fearless Benjamin Lay: Activist, Abolitionist, Dwarf Person.”
Verdict: Empowering for disabled youth, enlightening for all.
From the introduction: All the titles here are nonfiction; most feature difficult subjects including history, climate change, systemic racism. Some might ask, why expose younger readers to challenging, unpleasant, haunting truths? One of the featured writers, Hilary Beard, provides the consummate answer back in her introduction to The Burning:
“…the fact that something is upsetting to us doesn’t mean that we should not engage it. Facing the truth empowers us to understand our self, our neighbors, and our world more accurately; to make appropriate choices and decisions; to heal the past and present and build a more promising future. Together.”
Readers: Young Adult