When talking about #ownvoices, the biggest categorise are LGBTQ+ and poc. However, there are some writers that write disabled characters, or neurodivergent characters, which are just as important. I wanted to recommend 5 books that feature these characters, as I think people should read more diversely, and if you don’t want to read LGBTQ+ books, or if you’re not ready for it (for whatever reason), this is definitely a good stepping stone (or the other way around, I’m not claiming one diverse group is more important than the other, all people are important).
So the first one is Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. While Leigh is often seen with a cane, I don’t think it’s common knowledge that she has osteonecrosis, which means that there are certain things she can’t do anymore. I don’t know if that’s the reason she wrote Kaz walking with a cane for that reason, but it does feel like it has a deeper meaning.
Helen Hoang wrote The Kiss Quotient, about Stella, who is on the autism spectrum. Hoang researched autism for her book, but recognised so much of that research, and wa eventualy diagnosed with autism. Usually it’s the other way around, people write about their own experiences, I’ve never really seen it this way around, but it’s kind of cool to see how writers experience the same thing we do when we start reading a book and learn all kinds of things about ourselves.
Jen Wilde wrote Queens of Geek, featuring Taylor, who is autistic and suffers from anxiety, while Wilde is on the spectrum herself, and is anxious too. I always find characters written from experience so much more real than those written after someone did extensive research.
And then you have Corinne Duyvis, who wrote On The Edge of Gone, with an MC on the autism spectrum. She has written about her diagnosis a lot and extensively, and is actually the one who coined #ownvoices, so I recommend you check out everything she’s written 😉
And then last but not least, Kody Keplinger wrote Run, featuring a blind MC, Agnes. I didn’t even know Keplinger was blind before starting my research for this post! It wouldn’t matter if she was or wasn’t, but knowing she’s writing from her own experience just changes the story a bit for me 🙂
While I know not everyone may be interested in specifically looking for books that are ownvoices, but in my opinion they add an extra layer to the story. I think you encounter less generalised stories, but instead characters are made to fit the experiences of the author, which add something extra to the story, makes it more real. Which is what we need in order to understand differences. To understand not everyone is the default.