Review: Able – Kurt Shead

Able – Kurt Shead


Kurt Shead has written an engaging first novel about a young man with Cerebral Palsy, drawing on his own experiences with the condition. He writes about love, life, death, and all the crap that life throws at you, and he does it in a way that is amazingly blunt. This book doesn’t dance around any topics or try to pretty things up.

Sometimes (and especially in online communities) it feels like the push for your own personal disability acceptance has gone a bit too far. I’ve seen a few places where people have been aggressively berated for writing about how their disability has a negative impact on them. Or if they’re not berated then people respond by trying their hardest to argue that it’s not the disability but society that is causing all your problems.

Oh, and do I do drugs? Not really. My body’s already up shit creek. No need to give it an excuse to get any worse. But I tried weed once, like I said earlier. For the whole night I thought my chair was a fucking Transformer. I can just remember that I kept on asking for marshmallows, over and over again. I don’t remember if I got them though.

So it’s refreshing then to read something from someone who has no qualms writing about how his disability sucks sometimes (albeit through a fictional protagonist), and Shead does this with a healthy amount of realism with being over-whelmned by self-pity.

And then he just…broke down. Just broke down. I’ve never heard him cry like that. Never. He’s the one that’s always been there for me when I cried. I wanted to go to him, hold him, cry with him. But I couldn’t move. It was like someone was punching me in the chest. I was shaking. I imagined him promising mum that he’d take care of me, how hard it must/ve been for him watching her die. And she died because of me.

Protagonist Daniel Bennett’s life was going along as it had been for the previous twenty-one years when his dad is hit by a car and everything has to change. There’s times in the book where you get frustrated with the people in Dan’s life, and other times you get frustrated with him as the book stumbles through messy situations in all their gritty detail. It reminds you that life can be a mess, that people can be disasters, and disability can be a complete pain in the figurative and literal backside. I sat and read this book in one sitting which only happens when a book is so awful I can’t look away or is so captivating that I don’t want to. This book is absolutely the latter.

Worth reading?

Assuming the bluntness isn’t going to put you off, yes it is. Definitely.

Value for money?

It’s £2.17 for the ebook so without a doubt, yes.

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