• Disfigured

  • On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space
  • By: Amanda Leduc
  • Narrated by: Amanda Barker
  • Length: 8 hrs and 17 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (43 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Fairy tales shape how we see the world, so what happens when you identify more with the Beast than Beauty? If every disabled character is mocked and mistreated, how does the Beast ever imagine a happily-ever-after? Amanda Leduc looks at fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm to Disney, showing us how they influence our expectations and behaviour and linking the quest for disability rights to new kinds of stories that celebrate difference. 

"Leduc peels the flesh from the fairy tales we grew up loving and strips them down to their skeletons to skilfully reveal how they influence the way we think about disability. She contrasts the stories we have with the ones we wish we had, incorporating her own life. Her wisdom lands like a punch in the heart, leaving a sizable dent that reshapes how we see tales we’ve been telling for centuries. She also - and this is the best part - suggests how we might tell new fairy tales, how we can forge new stories." (Adam Pottle, author of Voice)

"A unique and dazzling study…a revolutionary approach to understanding why we are drawn to fairy tales and how they shape our lives." (Jack Zipes, author of Grimm Legacies)

"Each chapter is a gem, but the kind of gem that turns into a knife, into a mirror, into a portal. Leduc’s real magic? That she transforms her readers as surely as any world." (Mira Jacob, author of Good Talk)

©2020 Amanda Leduc (P)2020 Coach House Books

Critic Reviews

“She [Leduc] argues that template is how society continues to treat the disabled: rather than making the world accessible for everyone, the disabled are often asked to adapt to inaccessible environments.” (Quill & Quire)

“Leduc persuasively illustrates the power of stories to affect reality in this painstakingly researched and provocative study that invites us to consider our favorite folktales from another angle.” (Library Journal)

“Historically we have associated the disabled body image and disabled life with an unhappy ending.” (Toronto Star

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Just Okay but gave New Insight

A bit slow for me but I enjoyed listening to the comparisons. It gave me insight into a perspective I hadn't previously thought of which is always a win in my book.

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Mixed bag

As a person with a lifelong disability, I was looking forward to this book. The memoir portions were compelling: being relentlessly mocked in school, experiencing physical pain, etc. I could relate!

While I agree with some of the author's premises, I found others to be overstated if not ridiculous. Like other disabled writers I have recently discovered, she favors the social model of disability (i.e. societal systems should change to accommodate everyone's needs) over the medical model (i.e the disability should be treated or cured.) I firmly believe both models have merit. Thankful for curb cuts, but also for my new titanium hip.

The author is duly annoyed by excessive gushing over the accomplishments of people with disabilities ("Look at you! So inspiring!") as I often am. However, I feel she is too dismissive of charitable groups who offer assistance, claiming that lets the government off the hook for what they should be doing. Give me private charity over big government any day. (Note, I do recognize and benefit from government programs and legal mandates, such as wheelchair lifts on public transportation and social security disability income. But it is not the job of the government to make sure I am happy.)

Perhaps it is my age (56) but I was never bothered by the absence of Disney princesses in wheelchairs. I knew I was different just by looking at my classmates. Yet I didn't feel left out of fairy tales. I never assumed they were only for pretty, healthy girls. I was mocked by some kids, pitied by some, befriended by others. I couldn't do many physical things, yet my name was frequently on the honor roll. We all have strengths and struggles. I rarely felt like a victim. I feel sad that the author seemed to have felt that way for many years.

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fantastic nonfiction

This is an absolutely fantastic book. The information that the author shares with the reader is incredibly digestible which I really appreciate and definitely made me reflect on how Disney, Marvel and fairy tales choose to use disabilities when it ces to villains. I chose to consume this via audio (for the most part), and I definitely recommend it.

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  • Rai Jayne Hearse
  • 03-31-21

Moving, Raw, and Fantastic

loved this book so much that I will be buying it in physical format so I can highlight and annotate it and flip to it many many times in the future. A must read for anyone interested in fairytales or disabilities.

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  • Jonas
  • 09-21-22

Great book!

I learned so much about fairy tales. Fun, insightful, and accessible. Thank you, Amanda Leduc.