Children's Literature in Education

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 15–28 | Cite as

Redefining Normal: A Critical Analysis of (Dis)ability in Young Adult Literature

Original Paper


This literary analysis examines constructions of normalcy and disability within contemporary young adult literature, including Jerk, California (Friesen, 2008), Marcelo in the Real World (Stork, 2009), and Five Flavors of Dumb (John, 2010). As recent winners of the Schneider Family Book Award from the American Library Association, these novels offer complex and realistic portrayals of characters with disabilities. Drawing on critical discourse analysis, this paper explores how identity, agency, and power shape the novels’ plots and themes. The growing prevalence of characters with disabilities in young adult literature offers an opportunity for students to consider how disability is constructed in society and represented in literary works. By taking a critical approach to literary analysis, teachers can emphasize social justice within the English curriculum.


Young adult literature Disability Critical literacy Critical discourse analysis 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Education and Social WorkThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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