BeWrite Books, 2007
Reviewed by Joy
Contemporary Fiction, England
Daryl Wainwright has two handicaps: he has no arms, and he comes from a criminal family. Celia Burkett only has one handicap: she is the daughter of the Deputy Head of her school. It makes both of them outsiders, a resemblance that draws them together. Celia admires Daryl's social ease, something she struggles with. She isn't bothered by Daryl's hands sticking out of his shoulders – a miracle in Daryl's world.
Celia's parents can't see it, but we can. This is a match made in heaven. Unfortunately heaven doesn't make the decisions at Cirencester High. Another outsider, Stephen the vicar's son, steps in. As Stephen says, "There's only one thing worse than being a headmaster's child and that's being a vicar's."
THALIDOMIDE KID is about handicaps, both physical and mental. It takes a while to see this, because author Kate Rigby unfolds the issues so delicately. At first it seems to be simply an unusual high school romance, between people we are rooting for. Our involvement with Daryl and Celia is instant and permanent. Their lives seem so familiar that we cannot separate ourselves from them.
When I came smack up against the ending, my immediate assessment was: it isn't the handicap, it's what you do with it that matters. Then I started digging into backgrounds. Why does each person do what they do? Family love and support is a major factor.
I was reluctant to start THALIDOMIDE KID, because it looked so grim. Was I wrong! Don't miss this brilliant exploration of what truly makes a handicap.
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