(Today, we have an amazing surprise – a guest post from the lovely Rebecca. She might be joining us for some events soon. She’s lovely, so keep an eye out for her, and enjoy this wonderful article from her. – Lauryn)
The young adult genre is the best place for the majority of us to get the representation we crave. This isn’t Lauryn here today so today’s post will be more focused on the physical disabilities some of us face. Many of us I’m sure struggle with the inner turmoil that comes with being physically disabled in some way and it’s especially difficult when people have a lack of understanding of those difficulties.
Sarah J Maas is a brilliant novelist for many aspects of representation, but her latest novel ‘Tower of Dawn’ – the seventh novel in the ‘Throne of Glass’ series – represents disability in a profound way. Now, whilst this series is a truly brilliant and thrilling fantasy, with elements of intense action, romance, friendship etc (it is truly an excellent series that I would recommend) Tower of Dawn focuses on a character called Chaol who finds himself in a wheelchair. Whilst the story has many layers, his arc is where our representation really comes through. We see him struggling to come to terms with his disability, throwing himself into any means to “fix” himself – which has a detrimental attitude towards his disability and what that means. Everyone who struggles with a disability has moments where they want it all to go away, where they wish they were like everyone else. These are hard times and it is welcoming, for me, to see this attitude understood through words, especially in such a popular novel.
This book shows those pessimistic attitudes we all have to push through – like physio therapy not always working, or set backs in how well you think you are doing – and shows how they are not faults. These are all thoughts and feeling we must process and deal with, in the same way that the character of Chaol deals with them. Struggling past our own pride and will to be better is a battle of its own. It can be a burdensome task and some will cope with it better than others, but getting ourselves to a good frame of mind is of paramount importance. My favourite quote in the book is this:
“’Using the chair is not a punishment. It is not a prison,’ he said softly. ‘It never was. And I am as much of a man in that chair, or with that cane, as I am standing on my feet.’”
I have never felt prouder to see this in a text before. To have this message that although we may operate slightly differently we are no different from anyone else, we have capabilities and we are strong is so powerful and important. We do not need to be defined by our disabilities. It is such a difficult thing for anyone with a disability to come to terms with, regardless of the nature it manifests itself. Also, furthering this mindset to those without disabilities will hopefully help them understand to not treat us with pity but instead look at us as no different from anyone else because we have the capability to succeed in every way. It is so important that Chaol comes to this conclusion and it is not related to any sort of cure he has magically found. It is merely that he has realised that his predicament is not as dire as it seems. Because of all else that is encompassed in the novel, the representation of disability is not often talked about, so I would love more people to realise and see this for what it is; brilliant representation.
If you want to read a truly amazing series with some outstanding representation, then I cannot praise this book enough!
Stay safe, friends. x