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Accidents of Nature

In: Novels

Submitted By rachelmacia
Words 1287
Pages 6
Rachel Macia
Professor Dunn
EGL 301
April 8, 2014
A Review of Harriet McBryde Johnson’s Accidents of Nature

Accidents of Nature by Harriet McBryde Johnson is a young adult novel about a teenage girl with cerebral palsy, and her first experience at summer camp. Jean, the protagonist of the story, is a high school senior who attends a “norm school” and has never really come in contact with other teens with disabilities in a social setting. McBryde uses Jean’s experiences at “Crip Camp” to show the readers the necessity of launching a movement towards disability rights. This book is drenched in commentary on the current societal views on the disabled community, and works as a call for justice.
Prior to coming to Camp Courage Jean aspired to be “normal”. All of her friends were non-disabled and she took pride in that. The only time that she really considered her disability was when she was acting as a “poster child” for cerebral palsy, or when she was being exploited in the annual Telethon. When she comes to camp we see her struggle to accept her identity as a person with disabilities. She desperately grasps on to this idea that she might some day be a “normal girl”. Finally, through the help of her new friends Jean comes to terms with the fact that she will never be what society considers “normal”, but that doesn’t matter, as long as she is comfortable and confident within her own skin.
On her first day at Camp Courage Jean meets Sara, a young activist with two professors as parents. Sara forces Jean to question authority, and recognize mistreatment of people with disabilities from the condescending camp staff, and society as a whole. Sara is a camper in her 8th year, and it is revealed in the end that she has returned this year to act as “Samson” and take down entire establishment by playing on the idea that she is weak due to her disability.
The reader…...

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