Where You See Yourself by Claire Forrest
When I went to university – albeit centuries ago – all common paths included stairs and old heavy doors and often long distances. Paths between classes, the cafeteria, the library, the Great Hall, a student activity centre, parking lots, the residences, washrooms and main campus. To get from one to another on time you often needed to jog. I don’t remember any elevators or doors that opened with buttons. If there were elevators, they were not in the halls I used. My classmates and I didn’t think anything of that. I can’t remember seeing a single student using a wheelchair. Even my convocation ceremony required going up and coming down two small flights of stairs.
In this debut novel, our protagonist – Effie - uses a wheelchair, and she’s deciding which university to attend. She’s academically unstoppable, talented as well as extroverted and hilarious. Her parents are affluent and otherwise supportive. She should be able to attend any university she chooses; but, her choices are limited by accessibility. She visits various campuses that she gets into academically. However, she can’t physically “get into” at least one building in her visits, without her mother’s help. Paradoxically, that school also offers her a scholarship. Another campus she visits, her student guide is also a wheelchair user and has had wheelchair using students for decades.
Effie’s adventures also involve skipping classes with friends, a “sit-in“ protest, romances, going to prom, parties, Effie’s first kiss, etc. Wheelchair users will find it refreshing to see their perspective from a protagonist. Other readers – like me – will cheer for Effie and learn from her as well.
Young Adult Fiction pr6846004