ACCIDENTS OF NATURE by Harriet McBryde Johnson


Age Range: 12 & up
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At 17, Jean has lived in an able-bodied world, despite her limitations with cerebral palsy. Supportive, loving parents have always treated her as normal. They insist she attend regular school, participating as much as possible in regular activities, albeit as an enthusiastic bystander, and generally live a life filled with friends and academic success. But during the summer before her senior year, Jean is exposed to the realities of a disabled life at Camp Courage, otherwise known by Sara, an eight-year veteran, as “Crip Camp.” Johnson, an attorney for the disabled, creates a psychological and emotional environment through her two main characters where anger, sympathy, frustration, love and self-esteem are all enmeshed within the typical coming-of-age trials of adolescence, accentuated here by the difficulties of physical disability. Jean’s first-person narration delineates a confident, rosy outlook, shattered as she observes her campmates and ultimately is forced to face life with new strength and resolve. Candid and very forthright language mixed with self-deprecating humor provides an extra dose of reality for both Jean and the reader. While the story is set in a 1960s pre-ADA environment, the themes and issues are relevant today and will spark discussion, if not a clearer understanding of the struggles and successes of the disabled. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-8050-7634-4
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2006


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