Jenny McLachlan’s novel for young adults, Truly Wildly Deeply, challenges stereotypes around disability. Sixteen-year-old Annie has mild cerebral palsy and wants to become more independent so has moved to a new school. She needs a wheelchair if she needs to go long distances but can walk when she doesn’t.
She meets Hilary, and they start a new friendship, and then Fab a larger than life character with Polish ancestry. He is interested in a relationship but Annie doesn’t want to be anyone’s anything, as she sees this as part of ‘women struggling to be free of the constraints society puts on them’. He challenges her in a way that no-one else will, and she finds that attractive, but doesn’t want to become Fab’n’Annie or ‘Fannie’.
The novel shows the assumptions and the power of language around disability -‘Since the day I was born, I’ve been hit with moments like this, when people decide what I can and can’t do. Most moments of ableism I choose to ignore – actually, loads, because I have to live my life – but every now and then, I think, damn it, I need to teach you guys a lesson’, and ‘I don’t believe I have a disability. … I was born with cerebral palsy, which is a physical impairment, but my CP doesn’t make me disabled: it’s society that does that’. This is a gorgeous book about teenagers, one of whom has cerebral palsy.