This anthology is a mix of contemporary fiction, fantasy and science fiction in a way that flows beautifully. Each of the 13 stories in the Unbroken anthology tells the story of a disabled person saving the world and living their lives the best they can.
Unbroken was an anthology I needed to read this week. All of these stories are written by ownvoices disabled authors, which is great. I loved that there was a variety of disabilities included, ranging from blindness to chronic pain to needing a power wheelchair to Bipolar II to autism. With its collection of bestselling authors like Heidi Heilig and Kody Keplinger, and some newer voices, I think this collection is stellar.
I received an eARC of Unbroken via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
It does need a general trigger warning for ableism throughout all of the stories. I’ll mention more specific warnings for each story I talk about. There was only one story that didn’t work for me, and that was because it was written as a play. There were several stories with a romantic subplot between two women, which was a wonderful surprise.
I’m going to talk a little bit about my favorite stories in the anthology.
Karuna Riazi’s Plus One tells the story of Hafsah, who refers to her major anxiety as “It.” She gets chosen to go on a pilgrimage to Hajj, and I loved the inclusion of how she desperately wanted It to go away with Allah’s help. It’s something that religious readers will be familiar with
Keah Brown’s Mother Nature’s Youngest Daughter dealt with a lot of ableist bullying towards a main character with cerebral palsy. It also allows her to get her revenge on her bullies in a way that didn’t harm anyone. I would love to see more exploration into this universe, or stories about her other siblings.
Kayla Whaley’s The Leap and the Fall was a mix of a horror story and a romance. The main character, like the author, uses a power wheelchair, and she uses it to her advantage. This is the first fiction story I’ve read by Whaley, and I cannot wait to see what she puts out next! This needs trigger warnings for possession, fire, and creepy circuses.
Corinne Duyvis’s A Curse, A Kindness featured an autistic main character who is cursed to grant three wishes to anyone who shows her a kindness. This sucks massively, because she meets the other main character when they literally run into each other in the grocery store. Sienna, our cursed MC, drops her chapstick in the process, and Mia returns it to her. This story needs a trigger warning for drowning and mentions of abusive parents.
Kristine Wyllys’s Ballad of Weary Daughters broke my heart more than a little as I recognized the author’s own struggles with her bipolar disorder in the story. This was a very personal story for Wyllys, which I know because we are mutuals on Twitter (though she is not active there anymore). I hope that readers will be as touched by the realities of her character’s experience on the reservation as I was. Wyllys is an Indigenous Woman of Color.
A reader seeking a story featuring a disabled main character would be able to easily find something that suited them in this anthology. I highly recommend it, and will be purchasing a copy for myself. You can do the same on Amazon or Indiebound!
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