Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens

Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens

A YA Anthology of short stories featuring disabled teens, written by #OwnVoices disabled authors. The stories reflect a range of genres and disabilities; contributors include bestselling authors Kody Keplinger and Francisco X. Stork, as well as newcomers Fox Benwell, Keah Brown, and .

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Title:Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens
Author:Marieke Nijkamp
Rating:

Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens Reviews

  • Aila

    Beautiful cover, and beautiful stories!

    While all the authors are disabled, I’m not 100% sure their characters follow the exact disability. Either way, I love the intersections of the characters and the vast range of writing styles.

    A more comprehensive review with opening lines will follow. While I’m giving each individual story a rating for my own notes, this whole book was a solid four from me and I highly recommend the anthology! Quick representation notes: (many of the disabilities are not

    Beautiful cover, and beautiful stories!

    While all the authors are disabled, I’m not 100% sure their characters follow the exact disability. Either way, I love the intersections of the characters and the vast range of writing styles.

    A more comprehensive review with opening lines will follow. While I’m giving each individual story a rating for my own notes, this whole book was a solid four from me and I highly recommend the anthology! Quick representation notes: (many of the disabilities are not labeled, so I will include descriptions!)

    1. The Long Road - historical fiction featuring a Chinese heroine with a mental disability. Lovely family dynamics. Wish it were longer, but loved the message! 3 stars

    2. Britt and the Bike God - super cute, contemporary story following a blind biker and her attraction to this fast POC biker. M/f ship. 4 stars

    3. The Leap and the Fall - haunting and eerie contemporary following a girl in a wheelchair and her friend who leads her to an abandoned carnival. F/f ship. 5 stars

    4. Per Aspera Ad Astra - exciting sci-fi where a girl with anxiety has to deal with an intergalactic war, when in fact maybe her coding can turn the tides. 5 stars. I loved this one!

    5. Found Objects - the more I think about this one, the more I really like it. A latinx narrator (their gender is never specified) leads a second person POV of their passion for theater and the magic they create from their idiopathic pain. They use a cane as well. 4.5 stars - it was so unique and gripping.

    6. Plus One - this one follows the spiritual journey of a Muslim girl undergoing her hajj, or pilgrimage. Along the trip comes “It,” a presence that causes her emotional, mental, and physical symptoms. How will It affect her journey? 3 stars

    7. The Day the Dragon Came - reads like a fantasy, where a crippled girl who uses a cane dreams of escaping the city she lives in, while a carpenter boy (I believe he is trans) helps the city he loves build a pillar for a dragon to come. I also loved this one - it’s so sweet and has great plot elements despite being a short story. M/f ship. 5 stars

    8. Captain, My Captain - follows a Latino boy who moved from Mexico for a better life but starts hearing a voice - Captain America - in his head that starts dictating his actions. Super interesting, and I wish we got to see more! 4 stars

    9. Dear Nora James, You Know Nothing About Love - contemporary story about a black girl with irritable bowel disorder who writes a love column, despite never being in a romantic relationship. Honestly I related to Nora James so much. It has super cute vibes from start to finish. 4 stars

    10. A Play in Many Parts - refreshing writing told through narration and screenplay. Could be a bit confusing at times, which is why I think readers will be conflicted. But I for one really enjoyed this theater outlook on the play Doctor Faustus and how to emanate his character. Follows a non binary mc who has chronic pain. 4 stars

    11. Ballad of Weary Daughters - sweet and quiet contemporary following a girl who has way too much responsibility on her shoulders taking care of her siblings and finding solace with a beautiful and supportive Cuban girl. F/f ship. Mc is biracial (half Native American) and has bipolar II disorder. 3.5 stars

    12. Mother Nature - really cool contemporary where a girl with cerebral palsy gets back at her high school bullies by using her mysterious powers of nature. Definitely a story I want more of. Really awesome sibling dynamics are featured. 4 stars

    13. One, Two, Three (will be renamed in final version) - magical contemporary where an autistic girl gets cursed to grant three wishes of people who are kind to her. This next girl though, is ready to find a way to free her from this curse. Super cute f/f ship and satisfying ending. 4 stars

    Some Trigger Warnings to note: self harm, manipulation, abusive relationship, anxiety, mention of panic attack, misgendering

  • Kat

    This is so awesome, because the library just bought like six books I had requested forever ago! I am so excited to get to read this wonderful collection! With all the great attention being brought to the importance of hearing from different voices in literature, it’s especially great to see a book featuring short stories about teens who have disabilities, and these were varied and really cool.

    Please excuse typos/name misspellings. Entered on screen reader.

  • Lilly (Lair Of Books)

    This Anthology holds such a special place in my heart, I found myself taking my time with each story many of which moved me or empowered me. Many left me in tears while others left me with hope. These stories are filled with strong characters who really just want to be seen and heard for the person they are rather than their disabilities be it it physical or mental or both. I am on my own

    This Anthology holds such a special place in my heart, I found myself taking my time with each story many of which moved me or empowered me. Many left me in tears while others left me with hope. These stories are filled with strong characters who really just want to be seen and heard for the person they are rather than their disabilities be it it physical or mental or both. I am on my own personal journey with mental health, this collection felt very therapeutic to read & ultimately kept me company on days I needed it most. Told by authors with disabilities, these stories are important and I for sure have found some new to me authors I look forward to read more from.

    About a Chinese Protagonist with mental health disability who travels with her parents to Persia in search of a “cure” (mental health disability) & along the way discovers the possibility of finding others that are doing to same for their loved one(s). I loved seeing super supportive parents & also the acknowledgment that change to a more clean/healthy lifestyle can be costly.

    Loved this story so much! Keeping in step with the first story, this also features a supportive parent. The MC has Retinitis Pigmentosa, a condition that causes the gradual loss of vision. Dad share a love of bikes with Britt, his daughter. He starts a Cyclist club since Britt’s school doesn’t have any “blind friendly sports club” & makes it all inclusive. All ages welcome with the only exception being that each gets trained to ride a tandem bike when they join & volunteer to Captain for Britt. There is a romance with a POC character (F/M) & it’s super cute! I loved the inclusivity of the bike club & that Britt is able to physically take part in the sport she loves.

    Carnival stories always make for eerie settings, throw in a aggressive ghost/possession, some tarot cards and we have ourselves one atmospheric short story! This one stars a girl in her wheelchair and her BFF who she’s started to grow feelings for (F/F), this one could’ve definitely benefited from being a full length novel. The progression from long friendship to romance is hard to dive right into in such a short period of time.

    A Sci-Fi short story starring a female coder who has panic attacks. MC lives and studies from her room not having stepped outside in months. This all changes when her world is attacked & at war, she must decide whether she can step out & offer her coding expertise to save the planet. I’m a big supporter of ALL women in STEM so this one definitely captured my interest. I also loved the supportive side character who doesn’t sweep the MC’s feelings of anxiety & fear under the rug.

    Latinx MC (gender not mentioned) who has idiopathic pain. This one threw me for a loop, I don’t think I fully grasped what was going on but I didn’t dislike it if that makes any sense? MC has a passion for performance art & there’s a conversation between the MC & their deceased grandfather where the issue of casting disabled people as villains is briefly mentioned. There’s also discussion of chronic pain & feeling like you can’t really talk to anyone about your pain because of the stigma. I’m not quick to label anything as being Magical Realism but this one did have an element of MR that gave off very vivid imagery.

    MC goes on her spiritual journey aka Hajj, along the way she battles against “IT” this is a presence the MC feels, sees, and tries to escape. We see her struggle with religion as well, feelings of inadequacy at not experiencing a huge transformation by the end of her Hajj. Feelings of not being devout enough all the while dealing with her plus one that only she can see. I feared for the MC at the airport where customs is known to flag people down for wearing a Hijab. I feared they wouldn’t offer up any understanding for someone struggling with mental health just because they’re wearing a Hijab. I felt this story the hardest & would love to read more from Karuna Riazi.

    This one tells the story of a girl with a cane who is treated poorly by the towns people who view her disability as a curse. She wishes to leave her town and travel/see the world. She then meets a Carpenter boy (may be Trans) who feels quite the opposite for the town they live in. He enjoys being a part of building the churches and other buildings. He also understands what it feels like to live somewhere that doesn’t accept you for who you are. A friendship turned romance story with a touch of dragon lore.

    Latinx MC hears a consistent voice in his head that encourages him to liberate himself from the responsibilities that keep him by his sisters side. This voice very much tries to influence the MC’s every move. Evaluated in a school setting and said to have a “intellectual & development disability” his options for work limited. He has a sister and baby nephew he stays with along with a mother & siblings in Mexico he helps out with. His sister is in a abusive relationship & he fears what will happen if he leaves. Sibling bond is strong in this one.

    MC has a love & dating advice column for other teens, a idea she got from her grandmother who she admires. MC has never actually been in love & so it adds a bit of humor to this short story. This character has episodes of irritable bowel disorder that keep her from being social & she also has anxiety. I actually would’ve loved a full length meet cute out of this short.

    This short story was told in different formats, parts read like a screenplay and others are being narrated. Our MC is non-binary and uses They/Them pronouns. MC walks with a cane and suffers from chronic pain. At first I was a bit intimidated by the format of this story but ended up really enjoying it. There’s a love for theater & the arts, and a teacher who has a passion for creating. The teachers husband may have dementia & the final act saw me unexpectedly teary eyed.

    Bi-racial MC (Native American) who has to grown up way too fast when her father up & leaves with his mistress. A hardworking mother is left to pick up the pieces of a broken home by working long hours in order to provide. MC steps up as a mother for her siblings all the while trying to cope with Bi-Polar II Disorder. There is a romance (F/F) with a Cuban girl who is super supportive and is also dealing with her own issues at home.

    I LOVED this one to pieces! which really doesn’t surprise me since Fantasy is my genre of choice. This short stars a MC with Cerebral Palsy who is being bullied in school. MC has hidden powers as do her siblings & her mother, she isn’t supposed to use them for wrong but makes an exception to get even with her harassers. I rooted for her of course! but it didn’t go unpunished by her mother. Each of the family members can control a different element of weather/nature & I am legit interested in a full length anything with this family! ❤

    This in my opinion was the best story to close off this collection. A autistic girl finds herself cursed after bearing witness to a accident. MC is a young girl when she witnesses the accident & isn’t able to respond to a call for action at the moment. Autistic, young, and in shock she is approached by a mysterious man who places a curse on her life. She must grant 3 wishes to whoever shows her a kindness for the rest of her life. A chance encounter with a girl in a parking lot has the potential to change her life. F/F romance that left me smiling.

  • CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨

    This anthology about disabled teens written by disabled authors was such a GEM.

    I need all of you to read this immediately, especially with the derth of disability rep in YA fiction.

    - Has 13 stories about disabled teens, ranging from physical disabilities, autism to mental illness.

    - The stories are a range of genres as well - there's a really awesome futuristic science-fiction story, a story with paranormal activity, a few contemporary romances, and some historical fiction as well.

    - The intersec

    This anthology about disabled teens written by disabled authors was such a GEM.

    I need all of you to read this immediately, especially with the derth of disability rep in YA fiction.

    - Has 13 stories about disabled teens, ranging from physical disabilities, autism to mental illness.

    - The stories are a range of genres as well - there's a really awesome futuristic science-fiction story, a story with paranormal activity, a few contemporary romances, and some historical fiction as well.

    - The intersectionality in these stories were wonderful, and I loved how some explored disabled identity, whilst some simply featured a disabled character - either way, the stories were all compelling and wonderful.

    - My favourite story was easily Per Aspera Ad Astra by Katherine Locke, a sci-fi story bout a girl with anxiety who is also a gifted coder, and can save her city from falling and succumbing to a war.

    Trigger/content warnings:

  • Anniek

    It's so difficult to rate anthologies, which is why I've rated every story separately. This was definitely worth the read, and I especially loved the insights into what it's like to deal with any kind of disability.

    Heidi Heilig - The Long Road (3/5)

    This first story has a lovely message, but I did feel like it could have been longer or at least a bit more substantial, because it didn't really have much of a plot. However, I did love the setting and the atmosphere.

    Kody Keplinger - Britt and the B

    It's so difficult to rate anthologies, which is why I've rated every story separately. This was definitely worth the read, and I especially loved the insights into what it's like to deal with any kind of disability.

    Heidi Heilig - The Long Road (3/5)

    This first story has a lovely message, but I did feel like it could have been longer or at least a bit more substantial, because it didn't really have much of a plot. However, I did love the setting and the atmosphere.

    Kody Keplinger - Britt and the Bike God (4/5)

    Britt and the Bike God is an adorable contemporary story about a blind girl who loves to bike. After losing (most of) her vision, she's started riding tandem, and I loved how the story addressed her disability without making it the sole focus. It was relatable to see how she struggled with accepting her disability, feeling like a burden to the people around her a lot of the time.

    Kayla Whaley - The Leap and the Fall (2/5)

    This story started off atmospheric, but it quickly grew weaker. It definitely had potential, but the dialogue felt forced and the action sequences didn't flow naturally, which made it difficult to really follow the story or get invested in it.

    Katherine Locke - Per Aspera Ad Astra (5/5)

    Absolutely loved this sci-fi story about a girl struggling with anxiety who has to overcome some of her fears due to war. Lizzie was a pretty relatable main character, and I loved how the story shows you're always stronger than you think without diminishing Lizzie's mental illness.

    William Alexander - Found Objects (2/5)

    It seems like you can't read a short story anthology without at least one author deciding to play around with the narrative perspective, and it almost never turns out well. It didn't this time either. It's a shame, because even if I don't experience chronic pain myself, I did find the way the author wrote about disability to be relatable at times. But other than that, the story just didn't really work for me.

    Karuna Riazi - Plus One (3/5)

    Plus One is about a Muslim girl trying to reconcile her mental illness (which she refers to as 'It') with her religion when she goes on pilgrimage. The setting was interesting, but I didn't feel like there was a lot of substance to it otherwise, although I did like the message of acceptance at the end.

    Marieke Nijkamp - The Day the Dragon Came (2/5)

    While I loved the setting for this story (medieval Belgium), it didn't really draw me in and I found it difficult to make sense of it, because the plotline felt really choppy.

    Francisco F. Stork - Captain, My Captain (3/5)

    I found this story to be quite endearing, and I liked the ending a lot! It wasn't very relatable for me personally, but I felt like it was an interesting perspective nonetheless.

    Dhonielle Clayton - Dear Nora James, You Know Nothing About Love (4/5)

    I really loved this contemporary story about a teenage girl writing a love advice column without ever having dated herself. It was heartfelt and the main character was fleshed out and relatable.

    Fox Benwell - A Play in Many Parts (4/5)

    This story had an interesting format, and I quite liked the main character. They had a few relatable insights when it comes to dealing with disability.

    Kristine Wyllys - Ballad of Weary Daughters (3/5)

    This is one of those stories where the writing seems to hold you at arm's length. It took me quite a while to get invested, but I did grow to like it more towards the ending.

    Keah Brown - Mother Nature's Youngest Daughter (2/5)

    While it had potential, this story felt rather unsubstantial, and it didn't really do anything for me.

    Corinne Duyvis - A Curse, A Kindness (5/5)

    Frankly, this is the story that made me buy this anthology! There's not a lot of own voices autism rep to go around, so I'll genuinely read anything I can get my hands on. This was such a lovely story as well! I feel like it could have easily been a full novel, the premisse was that interesting. I loved the way autism was represented in both of the main characters as well (at least I think they both had autism - it was only confirmed for one of them). It was present but not the center of the story or even the character's biggest distinctive feature.

  • Lala BooksandLala

    need. this. now.

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)

    Marieke Nijkamp, Dhonielle Clayton, Corinne Duyvis, Heidi Heilig, and Kody Keplinger. And it's ALL ownvoices!!

    [

    October 2018.]

  • Corinne

    I've got a story in this one! In the ARC it's called "One, Two, Three" but in the final edition it'll be titled "A Curse, A Kindness."

    It's my first queer autistic character, and probably the fluffiest YA story/novel I've written to date.

    I am absurdly excited about this anthology. <3

  • Stephanie

    I only read the dedication and i'm already crying. It says

    "To every disabled reader, dreamer, storyteller-

    We can be heroes.

    This one's for us."

    I have been disabled my entire life, born with vacterl association (and then some) I'm a medical nightmare. vacterl is rare so i'm not expecting to see it in a book but even with that difference, many disabled people end up facing the same stigmas, ableism and feelings from it all.

    I am so glad something like this finally exists <3

    Now...can I make it t

    I only read the dedication and i'm already crying. It says

    "To every disabled reader, dreamer, storyteller-

    We can be heroes.

    This one's for us."

    I have been disabled my entire life, born with vacterl association (and then some) I'm a medical nightmare. vacterl is rare so i'm not expecting to see it in a book but even with that difference, many disabled people end up facing the same stigmas, ableism and feelings from it all.

    I am so glad something like this finally exists <3

    Now...can I make it through this book without getting tear stains on the pages? Probably not if i'm already crying, but they are happy tears that this is a thing that exists now <3

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