Thursday, December 1, 2011

Book Musing: Stoner and Spaz

Ronald Koertge

This book, you guys, is what disability in YA should be. Ben Bancroft is a move-obsessed guy with a snarky attitude, an over-bearing grandma and a thing for stoner-girl Colleen Minou. Oh, yeah, he also has Cerebral Palsy. 

Ben's relationship with Colleen is life-changing for both of them, but not in a let's cure the disability and the drug addiction by the end of the book. Instead, Colleen helps Ben see his own love for film, and he helps Colleen out of a troubled relationship. They're self-absorbed teens with huge problems--in other words, entirely realistic. 

It's not that Ben's disability isn't a central focus of the book. But his issues with self-identity could come from any teenage boy. As his grandmother says "everybody, and I mean everybody, looks in the mirror and wishes they were something different" (127-128). That's what I love about the book--everyone has something they don't like about themselves, something others don't like, and everyone is surprising. Plus the dialogue and narration are fabulous. Ben's description of his grandma-bought outfits especially. "A shirt with a little horsie" cracked me up--which wasn't the best thing ever since I was listening to the audiobook on a bus.

As for my qualifications for disability-related novels, disability is not the only point of the book, nor is acceptance of it the biggest change Ben makes. It's not cured, he definitely has other traits and as for my nitpicks-only-I-can-have...well, there aren't many of them. I kind of didn't like how isolated Ben was in the beginning, but it's a result of his personality, not his disability so i let it slide.

A definite best disability-related book I've come across in a while, and I can't wait to read the sequel.