Caterpillars Can’t Swim

“Go!”

So I discovered something new (NetGalley), and now I’m sure I’ll never want for something to read ever again. If the subscriptions to two international libraries and Overdrive weren’t going to take care of that, of course.

To the book. Young Adult with the main character having cerebral palsy, living in a very small town and saving another male teen that might not want to be saved. But still, pulling someone out of the water creates a connection.

Ryan feels responsible for Jack after that, even though Jack and Ryan’s best friend Cody try to stop making him feel so. Jack’s not the best, most social, fun loving guy around, while Cody is the pretty stereotypical jock.

What Liane Shaw does – and very nicely so – isn’t hurry either of them into a corner. Yes, someone’s disabled, but not his disability. Yes, someone’s gay, but not his sexuality. And yes, the jock can learn. All characters get room for development, and that doesn’t happen often enough.

It makes for a sweet, soft story, and a nice start of my Netgalley experience.

Caterpillars Can’t Swim, Liane Shaw, Second Story Press 2017

The Opposite Bastard

My restart interview seemed to be going swimmingly.

Even though there is plenty of proof in the world that disabled people are people as well, it’s still easy to forget that they experience the same self-doubts, thoughts and emotions as the able ones. The Opposite Bastard gives a dry comical look behind the eyes of a young adult, paralyzed from the neck down.

It all evolves around a play at Oxford, Hamlet. The stereotypical theater kid wants Michael as his Hamlet. The other players, Michael’s caretaker ((ex-)actor), friend and his mother each have their own chapters to share their point of view on happenings. When a sensation-craved documentary maker discovers what’s going on, connections get tighter and smiles more grim.

The biggest point The Opposite Bastard drives home is that everyone is human, no matter what and that no-one can know what they’d do in a life-changing situation until they live through it. Michael isn’t always a lovable pet, his mother’s delusion and clinging to religion doesn’t make her a bad person, Anna isn’t an angel for the sole reason that she dares to be around him.

With a dry humor and accessible language this could well be put down as a summer read.

 The Opposite Bastard, Simon Packham, Macmillan New Writing 2008