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Character with a Disability

Read a book starring a main character with a disability. 

June 1, 2021

To complete this challenge, read a book starring a main character with a disability.

This list is part of the 2021 Adult Summer Reading program.

All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See

Anthony Doerr

A blind French girl on the run from the German occupation and a German orphan-turned-Resistance tracker struggle with respective beliefs after meeting on the Brittany coast.

The Arrangement

The Arrangement

Mary Balogh

Desperate to escape his mothers matchmaking Vincent Hunt Viscount Darleigh flees to a remote country village. But even there another marital trap is sprung. So when Miss Sophia Frys intervention on his behalf finds her unceremoniously booted from her guardians home Vincent is compelled to act. He may have been blinded in battle but he can see a solution to both their problems: marriage.

At first quiet unassuming Sophia rejects Vincents proposal. But when such a gloriously handsome man persuades her that he needs a wife of his own choosing as much as she needs protection from destitution she agrees. Her alternative is too dreadful to contemplate. But how can an all consuming fire burn from such a cold arrangement? As friendship and camaraderie lead to sweet seduction and erotic pleasure dare they believe a bargain born of desperation might lead them both to a love destined to be?

Best Boy

Best Boy

Eli Gottlieb

A middle-aged autistic resident of a therapeutic community where he was sent as a young child rebels against changes in his environment by attempting to return to a family home and younger sibling he only partially remembers.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Mark Haddon

Despite his overwhelming fear of interacting with people, Christopher, a mathematically-gifted, autistic fifteen-year-old boy, decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor’s dog and uncovers secret information about his mother.

The Death of Vivek Oji

The Death of Vivek Oji

Akwaeke Emezi

In the wake of a southeastern Nigerian mother’s discovery of her son’s body on her doorstep, a family struggles to understand the enigmatic nature of a youth shaped by disorienting blackouts, diverse friendships and a cousin’s worldly influence.

Freshwater

Freshwater

Akwaeke Emezi

Ada begins her life in the south of Nigeria as a troubled baby and a source of deep concern to her family. Her parents, Saul and Saachi, successfully prayed her into existence, but as she grows into a volatile and splintered child, it becomes clear that something went terribly awry.

When Ada comes of age and moves to America for college, the group of selves within her grows in power and agency. A traumatic assault leads to a crystallization of her alternate selves: Asụghara and Saint Vincent. As Ada fades into the background of her own mind and these selves, now protective, now hedonistic, move into control, Ada’s life spirals in a dark and dangerous direction.

Ginny Moon

Ginny Moon

Benjamin Ludwig

Meet Ginny Moon. She’s mostly your average teenager—she plays flute in the high school band, has weekly basketball practice, and reads Robert Frost poems in English class. But Ginny is autistic. And so what’s important to her might seem a bit… different: starting every day with exactly nine grapes for breakfast, Michael Jackson, her baby doll, and crafting a secret plan of escape.

After being traumatically taken from her abusive birth mother and moved around to different homes, Ginny has finally found her “forever home”—a safe place with parents who will love and nurture her. This is exactly what all foster kids are hoping for, right? But Ginny has other plans. She’ll steal and lie and exploit the good intentions of those who love her—anything it takes to get back what’s missing in her life. She’ll even try to get herself kidnapped.

Half a King

Half a King

Joe Abercrombie

Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains, and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea. And he must do it all with only one good hand.

Born a weakling in the eyes of his father, Yarvi is alone in a world where a strong arm and a cold heart rule. He cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he must sharpen his mind to a deadly edge. Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast and the lost, he finds they can do more to help him become the man he needs to be than any court of nobles could. But even with loyal friends at his side, Yarvi finds that his path may end as it began—in twists, and traps, and tragedy.

Harmony

Harmony

Carolyn Parkhurst

How far will a mother go to save her family? The Hammond family is living in DC, where everything seems to be going just fine, until it becomes clear that the oldest daughter, Tilly, is developing abnormally—a mix of off-the-charts genius and social incompetence.

Once Tilly—whose condition is deemed undiagnosable—is kicked out of the last school in the area, her mother Alexandra is out of ideas. The family turns to Camp Harmony and the wisdom of child behavior guru Scott Bean for a solution. But what they discover in the woods of New Hampshire will push them to the very limit.

How to Walk Away

How to Walk Away

Katherine Center

Margaret Jacobsen is just about to step into the bright future she’s worked for so hard and so long: a new dream job, a fiancé she adores, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in a brief, tumultuous moment. In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Maggie must confront the unthinkable.

First there is her fiancé, Chip, who wallows in self-pity while simultaneously expecting to be forgiven. Then, there’s her sister Kit, who shows up after pulling a three-year vanishing act. Finally, there’s Ian, her physical therapist, the one the nurses said was too tough for her. Ian, who won’t let her give in to her pity, and who sees her like no one has seen her before. Sometimes the last thing you want is the one thing you need. Sometimes we all need someone to catch us when we fall. And sometimes love can find us in the least likely place we would ever expect.

The Kiss Quotient

The Kiss Quotient

Helen Hoang

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases—a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old. It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice—with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan.

The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan—from foreplay to more-than-missionary position… Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he’s making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic..

The Music of Bees

The Music of Bees

Eileen Garvin

Following three lonely strangers in a rural Oregon town, each working through grief and life’s curveballs, who are brought together by happenstance on a local honeybee farm where they find surprising friendship, healing—and maybe even a second chance—just when they least expect it

A Piece of the World

A Piece of the World

Christina Baker Kline

Imagines the life story of Christina Olson, the subject of Andrew Wyeth’s painting “Christina’s World,” describing the simple life she led on a remote Maine farm, her complicated relationship with her family, and the illness that incapacitated her.

Sorrow and Bliss

Sorrow and Bliss

Meg Mason

Pushing away her devoted husband, a once-successful writer moves back into her bohemian childhood home, where she struggles to come to terms with the mental illness that has overshadowed her life.

The Things We Keep

The Things We Keep

Sally Hepworth

Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there’s just one another resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.

When Eve Bennett is suddenly thrust into the role of single mother she finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna’s and Luke’s families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them.

Too Good to be True

Too Good to Be True

Carola Lovering

Skye Starling is overjoyed when her boyfriend, Burke Michaels, proposes after a whirlwind courtship. Though Skye seems to have the world at her fingertips—she’s smart, beautiful, and from a well-off family—she’s also battled crippling OCD ever since her mother’s death when she was eleven, and her romantic relationships have suffered as a result. But now Burke—handsome, older, and more emotionally mature than any man she’s met before—says he wants her. Forever. Except, Burke isn’t who he claims to be: he’s happily married, and using Skye for his own, deceptive ends.

Thirty years earlier, a scrappy seventeen-year-old named Heather is determined to end things with Burke. Inspired by the sophisticated mother of her babysitting charges, Heather vows to leave her impoverished hometown behind and make a better life for herself in New York City. On a collision course she doesn’t see coming, Skye throws herself into wedding planning, as Burke’s scheme grows ever more twisted. Meanwhile, three decades in the past, Heather’s longed-for transformation finally seems within reach. But of course, even the best laid plans can go astray.

We Are All the Same in the Dark

We Are All the Same in the Dark

Julia Heaberlin

They call her Angel. Found on the side of a remote highway, the young girl refuses to speak. No one knows who she is or where she came from—only that she fell from the sky. It’s Wyatt who finds her and takes her home to nurse her back to health, setting into motion the town’s rumor mill. A pariah, Wyatt still believes he can still communicate with his long-gone sister, and he might be the only one left who knows the truth about the night of her disappearance.

Odette Tucker, also lost something important that night: her leg. Now a cop, uninhibited by her prosthetic, Odette must reenter Wyatt’s ghost-ridden world. As she begins to coax Angel into speaking and slowly pieces together her identity, Odette is ignited to reopen the cold case that has haunted her. Soon she is ensnared in a lethal game of cat and mouse with someone who doesn’t want that night revisited.

We Are All Welcome Here

We Are All Welcome Here

Elizabeth Berg

Stricken by polio, Paige Dunn, a woman of remarkable free spirit, beauty, and intelligence, continues to raise her daughter, Diana, with the help of her caretaker Peacie, in a novel set against the backdrop of Tupelo, Mississippi, in 1964.

When We Were Vikings

When We Were Vikings

Andrew MacDonald

For Zelda, a twenty-one-year-old Viking enthusiast who lives with her older brother, Gert, life is best lived with some basic rules: 1. A smile means “thank you for doing something small that I liked.” 2. Fist bumps and dabs = respect. 3. Strange people are not appreciated in her home. 4. Tomatoes must go in the middle of the sandwich and not get the bread wet. 5. Sometimes the most important things don’t fit on lists.

But when Zelda finds out that Gert has resorted to some questionable—and dangerous—methods to make enough money to keep them afloat, Zelda decides to launch her own quest. Her mission: to be legendary. It isn’t long before Zelda finds herself in a battle that tests the reach of her heroism, her love for her brother, and the depth of her Viking strength.

The Wolf and the Watchman

The Wolf and the Watchman

Niklas Natt och Dag

When a mutilated corpse is discovered in a local swamp, watchman Mikel Cardell and lawyer Cecil Winge comb the underworld of eighteenth-century Stockholm to unmask a murderer before a young workhouse laborer becomes the next victim.

Wolf in White Van

Wolf in White Van

John Darnielle

Isolated by a disfiguring injury, Sean Phillips crafts imaginary worlds for strangers to play in. From his small apartment in southern California, he orchestrates fantastic adventures where possibilities, both dark and bright, open in the boundaries between the real and the imagined.

As the creator of Trace Italian—a text-based, role-playing game played through the mail—Sean guides players from around the world. Lance and Carrie are high school students from Florida, explorers of the Trace. But when they take their play into the real world, disaster strikes, and Sean is called to account for it.