I stopped and turned around. I could feel my cheeks burning. The bus station was full of people. "Nobody would pretend to be a cripple! Nobody would use a stick they didn't need! You should be ashamed of yourself for thinking that I would. If I could walk without it I'd break it in half across your back and run off singing. You have no right to talk to me like that, to talk to anyone like that. Who made you queen of the world when I wasn't looking? Why do you imagine I would go out with a stick I don't need--to try to steal your sympathy? I don't want your sympathy, that's the last thing I want. I just want to mind my own business, which is what you should be doing."--From Jo Walton, Among Others (Tor Books, 2010), winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards.
It didn't do any good at all, except for making me a public spectacle. She went very pink, but I don't think what I was saying really went in. She'll probably go home and say she saw a girl pretending to be a cripple. I hate people like that. Mind you, I hate the ones who come up and ooze synthetic sympathy just as much, who want to know exactly what's wrong with me and pat me on the head. I am a person. I want to talk about things other than my leg. (191)
I got this book for Christmas because it was well-reviewed, but I didn't realize how much I'd like the main character Mori, a physically-disabled Welsh girl about my generation (she's a year or two older than I was in 1979-80, when the book is set), awkward and lonely and haunting the local library, reading many of the same books I did at that age (but far more, because I was never a fast reader). Her disability isn't a main theme of the book, but it's important. And maybe young and not-so-young readers will learn something from the character's experiences, which are based on the author's: "all the disability stuff in the book is entirely from experience," Walton told the Guardian. Another extract:
I found myself being helped down to the car. That sort of help is actually a hindrance. If you ever see someone with a walking stick, that stick, and their arm, are actually a leg. Grabbing it or lifting it, or doing anything unasked to the stick and the arm are much the same as if you grabbed a normal person's leg as they're walking. I wish more people understood this. (224)