Cara choice for our reading group on Good Reads this month was grace williams says it loud by Emma Henderson. This book was a debut novel and has been shortlisted for the the Orange Prize. I hadn't realised before reading it that the book is based upon the life of her sister who was disabled and institutionalised.
The book is quite an eye opener as to how badly we treated children with disabilities even until the end of the 20th century. Sent to Briar Mental Institute in 1957 aged 11 when her parents can no longer cope and the doctors say that they can do nothing more society has given up on Grace. She was born with some sort of disability but a case of polio had left her with a range of problems. The story is told from her own words which she cannot speak out loud due to get disability.
The Briar is home to a whole range of children and adults who are shut away from society. Many of the medical and care staff show little feeling towards the people that are confined there. To get her through Grace has a best friend and later boyfriend Daniel who is an epileptic with no arms. Some of the staff do show kindnesses over the years but life at the Briar is no bed of roses. It is really is shocking about to read how people were treated by medical staff who thought that their patients had no emotions or could feel no pain.
I couldn't put this book down as I wanted to find out whether Grace and Daniel would ever escape from this awful place. There are bits of the book that make you want to cry, others make you laugh and others that will shock. I thoroughly recommend you borrow this from the library or buy a copy.