Good Kings Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book gives the reader insight into a world rarely visited; a world well known to the author. It is the world of the disabled. In particular, it is the world of the institutionalized where residents are young and have little to no say in their own lives. Everything is determined for them including when they rise, what they eat, when they shower, etc. They try to navigate this world with humor, friendships, and even romance but are often at the mercy of neglectful, even abusive caregivers. The author reveals the story through the eyes of several different characters, all of whom are complex and interesting. The characters are revealed to have strength, anger, frustration, and humor. Their is no self-pity here, but there are also no Pollyannas. These are real people with real emotions and real lives. This book affects the reader’s view of the ‘disabled’ and has the reader cheering when these residents take a stand. The author is unflinching in her writing. The language is coarse and some of the story, like the abuse, is very hard to read. However, this book needed to be written and it needs to be read. Social injustice like that portrayed here should never go unaddressed. What I liked most about this book was the fact that I often forgot that the characters were disabled because in their thoughts and actions they were not defined by their disabilities. Able-bodied people often neglect to see past disabilities to the person underneath. This book is an eye-opener.
“Dissatisfaction with my work makes me feel more employed” (p. 13).
“Once you laugh with a person? That person is your friend. You can’t help it” (p. 34).
“Not that invisibility is hard to achieve when you’re a crip. We’re minor characters in someone else’s story” (p. 104).
In accordance with FTC guidelines, please note that I received a free copy of this book through LibraryThing Early Reviewers in exchange for an honest review.