cover image Accidents of Nature

Accidents of Nature

Harriet McBryde Johnson, , read by Jenna Lamia. . Listening Library, $35 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7393-3530-7

A major benefit to the audio rendition of Johnson's poignant coming-of-age novel is experiencing the discrepancy between the palsied speech of disabled protagonist Jean and her eloquent inner thoughts. Lamia does an admirable job of capturing Jean's strained, halting cadences. And when inside the 17-year-old's free-flowing mind, Lamia's naturally youthful voice is imbued with the right amount of wonder, skepticism and self-doubt—a powerful reminder that disability is no indicator of intelligence or heart. Set in a 1970s summer camp for the disabled in North Carolina, Johnson's tale centers around Jean's relationship with feisty fellow camper Sarah, who is intent on opening Jean's eyes to the treatment of "crips" in the world. Lamia handles all accents, ages and genders with ease, even pulling off a male camper doing a Nixon impersonation. This audiobook should engage adults and adolescents alike, offering a glimpse into a world from which people often avert their gaze. For kids, it should help demystify the lives of the disabled, from bathroom rituals to sexuality to professional aspirations—and in turn, bring into sharp relief their oft-marginalized status in society. Ages 12-up. (June)