Discussion: Disability on Covers
If you’ve followed me for a while you might know that I am very vocal about disability in YA. I want it front and centre. I want people to read about it, to understand, to gain something and take it with them. A couple of months ago I wrote about living with chronic pain and shared posts through Disability Diaries. You may also know that Ely over at Tea and Titles also has a passion for disability in novels. And as well as being my best friend we love to share our passion together.
So today we thought we would share our thoughts on a few covers of books that delve into disability. This may be the protagonist or even someone very close to them. We wanted to see how publishers present disability on the book cover or even at all. We’ve split this one up so don’t forget to check out Tea and Titles for more.
Welcome Ely! Thank you so much for coming here and chatting with me about this. Do you want to talk quickly about yourself and why you are passionate about disability representation in literature?
As Angel said, I’m Ely and I blog over at Tea & Titles. I was born with a mobility disability that affects me almost every day, and I also have diabetes and anxiety. Growing up, the only fictional character who I could connect to was Nemo from Finding Nemo because he had a bad fin/leg like I did. Because of that, I’m very passionate about getting more disability into literature, especially YA. I’m currently writing my thesis on the representation of disability in YA so it’s all I think about at the moment.
Thank you for sharing Ely. If you couldn’t tell already a lot of our talks do end about disability in YA. So let’s get started.
Let’s get started with this one. Both of us have read it and really enjoyed it, however the cover doesn’t tell us about about the book in a disability sense. The female protagonist has recently been confined to a wheelchair after an accident and while can use crutches, she will have a mobility disability for the rest of her life. However, that isn’t portrayed here on the cover. What do you think Ely?
I have to agree with you. When I saw the cover, I had no idea that the book was about disability at all. To me, it just looked like a cute summery contemporary and it was only when I read the blurb that I found out about that aspect. It’s such a huge part of the book that I’m actually really disappointed that it’s not on the cover at all, especially because I feel like disability is portrayed really well in the book.
Totally agree with you. And also that the disability plays such a big part in the novel itself with the protagonist coming to terms with everything that has happened. Also check out Ely’s review on The Year We Fell Down.
Aw, thanks Angel <3 I think it’s important to note that both main characters are disabled—one permanently and the other temporarily, so you’d think there would be even the smallest nod to it.
Now this is an interesting one. Just by the title you have an understanding that this book is going to focus on deafness and well it does. And I love that the cover incorporates it without really trying. The contrast of the concert scene with the noise recognition. It’s smart. I haven’t read this one yet, but I’ve read This is What Goodbye Looks Like by this author and that makes me excited. What do you think of this cover Ely?
Having never heard of this book before, I have to say that I don’t hate the cover. Usually I wouldn’t pick it up because of the pretty stereotypical concert picture going on there, but the title draws me in. Even more than that, the soundwaves between the two words makes me feel pretty exciting for it actually. I can’t think of another book that looks at deafness with a cover like this, can you Angel?
As you said it’s a pretty generic concert image, but no I can’t think of once that also has to do with deafness. It’s small and if you didn’t know about the book you might miss it, but it works in way.
This one is a difficult one to talk about. While it’s not in your face, I can see how it would work to represent agoraphobia. All the different colours and how the lines are going different ways. All over the place – It’s like how you could feel. Being throw from one side to the other. Your mind everywhere all at once. Is that how you see it Ely?
Yes, but I also see it as connections—kind of like one of those crime things you see in TV where they have string going across the room, but in someone’s brain. As in, it’s like your brain is making all these connections to things. The way I see it is in anxieties and fears, if you do this thing then this is what could happen, or if you don’t do this thing and so on. Does that make any sense?
Totally makes sense and totally agree. It’s a way of connecting the dots and how your brain works in a way. How it makes sense of everything that is thrown at it.
As you can see from this post disability isn’t represented a whole lot on YA covers. Which is upsetting to say the less. You have to really and make your own interpretation of what is being presented. I don’t know why publishers don’t have disability front and center, but I do wish it was there more. What would you love to see more of Ely?
Personally, I’d love to just see more disability in all aspects of publishing. It’s still very rare that a book that features disability, and even when they do they are often pushed aside by bestsellers. I think everyone can think of a few bestsellers with little to no diversity in at all. I hadn’t realise before this post, but I’m sad that disability is featured so little on covers. We need disability on covers of disability books!
Could not agree with you more. Over the past year or so I have seen it more, but not nearly enough and it’s frustrating at times. There are so many disabilities in the world and so many people suffer – so why not have a good representation in the YA world.
Thank you Ely for joining me here on Angel Reads and don’t forget to check out Ely’s post where we talk more about disability on covers. I hope that you enjoyed this post and feel as passionate as we do about more disability on YA covers.
Thanks for always letting me rant about disability, Angel. I can’t wait for our next hundred conversations about it!
Have you seen a cover where disability is presented well? Can you think of any where it’s not even there or showed in a horrible way? Let’s Chat!