This book is a 2006 Cybil Award Nominee for YA Fiction.
Jean always thought she was pretty much … normal. Okay, not body-normal, maybe, she did have cerebral palsy after all, but at least she could hang out with pretty much anyone and fit in with her friends. At least, that’s what everybody said. She’s always gone to mainstream schools, and she’s going to be a senior this year, getting ready to take the plunge into Real Life, away from her parents and sister. She and her mother agree that the best thing for her to do is to go away to summer camp for awhile — just to see how she’ll do.
But Camp Courage in the summer of 1970 is like nowhere Jean has ever been. First off, she’s never been around so many disabled people in her life. They don’t inhabit her world. They don’t compete academically or belong to clubs or go to movies. Some of them live in institutions. Some, like Sara, who calls Camp Courage “Crip Camp” and calls Jean “Spazzo” are outspoken and almost… bitter about “Norms” and people who have full use of their bodies. Some of the campers are …disturbing. And some of the counselors are clueless to the point of disaster. Jean begins to wonder if she’s really as ‘normal’ as she thought. Is she like everyone in her world? Or is she, too, an Accident of Nature?
This is a deeply interesting book, and while readers will be somewhat unfamiliar with some of the social norms of the 1970’s, and what people thought back then, it’s a real eye-opener in terms of what has changed now about how people perceive race, religion and disabilities. It’s also a thought-provoking novel in terms of what still needs to change. Harriet McBryde Johnson is a lawyer in solo practice in Charleston, S.C. She has been a disability rights activist and advocate for more than 25 years, an activist for disability rights, and this is an authentic novel and a discussion of social justice that might just leave you with your 1970’s consciousness expanded — in the very best way possible.