Dr. Alice Trupe
Degree Award Date
disabilities, adolescence, young adult literature, literature review
Children's and Young Adult Literature | Disability Studies
By examining young adult literature that focuses on young adults dealing with various disabilities, as well of the effects of that disability on the parents, siblings, and friends, it becomes clear that a disability, no matter how diverse in circumstance, can define and shape a young person's journey toward adulthood. Every disability is unique in nature; there are varying severity levels, different muscles, organs, or parts of the brain that suffer from a specific impairment-meaning that no two disabilities are exactly alike. In Young Adult Literature, however, the disability and its specific circumstances become secondary to the social and emotional issues that the disability introduces into young adult life, in addition to the contemporary problems that have become a part of adolescent culture. In the general scope of Young Adult Literature, it is the common challenge of adolescence that the young adult faces that is the main concern, but that problem is then filtered through the lens of disability, morphing the issue into something that is more fragile. The issue that the character is dealing with is not only something that is tied to becoming an adult, but a topic that is intertwined with the character's already brittle sense of self as a person with a disability. In many of the books that will be examined, several of the social problems and disabilities that the characters are facing are similar, but it is how each character responds to that conflict that separates the works.
Smith, Katherine E., "Don't Dis My Ability: An In-Depth Look at the Character-Driven Portrayal of Disabilities and Perspective in Contemporary Young Adult Literature" (2013). Honors Projects. 76.