Blindness Visible: Recent Books with Blind Characters

BookendsCindy: Have we run the course of characters with Asperger’s Syndrome? The new trend just might be characters who are blind. Last fall, my first blind student, Maria, arrived at one of my middle schools and she read more books last year using our audiobook collection than most of my sighted students got through. This year, I have another blind student at my other middle school so perhaps I am just more aware of the blind characters who are popping up in fiction—but I don’t think so.

She Is Not Invisible by Markcus SedgwickLast spring, I read Marcus Sedgwick’s intriguing mystery, She is Not Invisible (2014), in which a blind teen travels from London to New York City to find her missing father. She can’t see, but basically kidnaps her younger brother to be her eyes on this quest and then uses her other senses to good effect to help solve the mystery. Sedgwick follows his Printz Honor Midwinterblood (2013) with this page-turner that will also thoughtfully open young readers’ eyes to the circumstances of being blind. How can you know the value of paper money when a five is the same shape and size as a twenty-dollar bill?

This summer I read the final installment of the Joey Pigza series, The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza (2014). Is it really the last, Jack? Joey always makes me laugh but there’s always a dark undercurrent in these stories. Joey grows up a little more in each book and Gantos always leaves us with hope that if not all will be well with Joey, it will be as good as he and his dysfunctional family can make it. This time, Joey is left to care for baby Carter when his mother checks herself into the hospital with postpartum depression. Joey gets some assistance from a female friend, who is blind. Like Laureth in Sedgwick’s book, her blindness does not hold her back and she is a big help to the overwhelmed Joey and his needy baby brother. 

Blind by Rachel DeWoskinFinally, there is the copy of Blind by Rachel DeWoskin (2014) that arrived recently. This debut YA novel features a high-school girl who loses her sight in an accident and must learn to adjust to her new circumstances. I haven’t read it yet, but the favorable Booklist review linked above makes me think I should. One of my book-club teens took it at our last meeting and promises to report back.

Are there other recent titles we’ve missed? Leave a note in the comments and we’ll look into them. Oh, and I found this short list of Courtesy Rules of Blindness that might be helpful if you work with students who are new to having blind students in their classes.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

2 Comments on "Blindness Visible: Recent Books with Blind Characters"

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  1. Ilene Cooper says:

    And don’t forget that great graphic novel by Joseph Lambert, ANNIE SULLIVAN AND THE TRIALS OF HELEN KELLER. Yes, everyone knows the story, but Lambert does an extraordinary job of making Helen’s world of darkness very real, while bringing Annie’s story to the forefront as well.

    • Cindy Dobrez & Lynn Rutan says:

      Absolutely, Ilene. This was a great use of graphic storytelling to make Helen’s reality more understandable to young readers. Great addition to the list. -Cindy

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