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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

Listed: Blind Characters

After my post the other day about the CNIB’s Right to Read campaign, I realized that I have read very little books with characters who are blind – Jane Eyre… and the Anne of Green Gables if you include low vision at that period in time. And I think I really ought to remedy that. So I started doing some research into books with blind characters in it, and these ten have made it onto my TBR list. (All book descriptions have come from LibraryThing.)

  1. The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. Originally Published 1951. LT. Description: The night the sky broke out in mysterious green flashes, all but a few people on Earth were blinded. The world went mad. Ordinary folk became animals, turning on one another in terror and desperation. Bill Masen was one of a handful who struggled to preserve a shred of civilization amidst the chaos. But chaos soon became the least of mankind’s problems. Walking plants were appearing — plants that fed on the bodies of their human prey. The triffids had arrived, and it was up to Bill Masen to stop them!
  2. Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements. Originally Published 2002. LT. Description: Teens, especially those not in the über-popular set, know all about feeling invisible. But what would happen if you actually did wake up invisible one day? Fifteen-year-old Bobby is faced with this curious predicament in Andrew Clements’s compelling novel Things Not Seen. Doing his best to adapt, Bobby informs his parents and grows more and more frustrated as they try to control his (unseen) life. Attempting to take matters in his own hands, he ventures out–naked–to the library, where he meets a blind girl who becomes a natural confidant.
  3. Blindness by Jose Saramago. Originally Published 1995. LT. Description: A city is hit by an epidemic of ‘white blindness’ that spares no one. Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, but there the criminal element holds everyone captive, stealing food rations and assaulting women. There is one eyewitness to this nightmare who guides seven strangers—among them a boy with no mother, a girl with dark glasses, a dog of tears—through the barren streets, and the procession becomes as uncanny as the surroundings are harrowing.
  4. Wake by Robert J. Sawyer. Originally Published 2009. LT. Description: Caitlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a genius at math, and blind. When she receives an implant to restore her sight, instead of seeing reality she perceives the landscape of the World Wide Web-where she makes contact with a mysterious consciousness existing only in cyberspace.
  5. The Cay by Theodore Taylor. Originally Published 1969. LT. Description: In 1942, 11-year-old Phillip Enright lives with his parents on the Dutch island of Curaçao, but when the war moves too close for comfort, his mother decides to travel with him back to the safety of Virginia. When their boat is torpedoed, however, Phillip is blinded and finds himself adrift on a life raft with an old black man and a cat. They eventually land on a deserted island. Phillip is suspicious of ‘the large Negro,’ but soon grows to trust–and ultimately love–the patient and generous Timothy.
  6. The Dream Master by Roger Zelazny. Originally Published 1966. LT. Description: His name is Charles Render, and he is a psychoanalyst, and a mechanic of dreams. A Shaper. In a warm womb of metal, his patients dream their neuroses, while Render, intricately connected to their brains, dreams with them, makes delicate adjustments, and ultimately explains and heals. Her name is Eileen Shallot, a resident in psychiatry. She wants desperately to become a Shaper, though she has been blind from birth. Together, they will explore the depths of the human mind — and the terrors that lurk therein.
  7. Murder in the Bastille by Cara Black. Originally Published 2003. LT. There wasn’t a description on LT, but from the reviews, it sounds like the person working on the case of the murder is blind.
  8. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: The Diary of Bess Brennan by Barry Denenberg. Originally Published 2002. LT. Description: After Bess Brennan is blinded in a sledding accident, she must face a frightening, much-altered world. Confronted with a new set of obstacles, Bess manages to overcome her disabilities with help from her new friends at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, MA, where she also learns how to read Braille. Her twin sister, Elin, assists her with recording daily events in her diary and contributes entries of her own. Set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, Bess’ story will inspire all readers to be strong in the face of hardship.
  9. The Water Mirror by Kai Meyer. LT. Description: Kai Meyer’s engaging fantasy portrays Venice as a city alive with wonder–stone lions pad with heavy paws on the canal banks and sometimes fly (as steeds for the Venetian Guard); the canals are full of mermaids with wide shark jaws, and the island city has been under siege by Egypt for 36 years. Only the power of The Flowing Queen, the mysterious spirit of the waters, has kept the city safe. But now the essence of the Queen has been stolen by traitors within the government, and the powers of Hell are offering a blood treaty. Two orphan girls, Merle, 14, and blind Junipa, 13, have become apprentices at the workshop of Arcimboldo, the maker of magic mirrors.
  10. The Rope Walk by Carrie Brown. LT. Description: On her tenth birthday Alice meets two visitors to her quiet town: Theo, the African American grandson of her father’s best friend, and Kenneth, an artist who has come home to convalesce. Theo forms an instant bond with Alice that will indelibly change them both. The pair in turn befriend Kenneth, and decide to build a “rope walk” through the woods for him, allowing to make his way through the outdoor world he has always loved. But their good intentions lead to surprising consequences, and Alice soon learns how different the world of children and adults really are.

Have you read any books where blindness is a factor affecting one of the characters? What was it, and would you recommend it?

Do you like this feature? You should also check out Librarian’s Book Reviews’ Listless Monday and A Bookshelf Monstrosity’s Books By A Theme.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 7:16 am February 8, 2010.
Category: Listed

  • jess

    I read The Cay as a kid and really enjoyed it. There’s a sequel, I believe, but I don’t recall it being as affecting. The Cay packs some good emotional punch.

  • Lisa

    I’ve had Blindness by Jose Saramago on my list to mooch or buy for what seems like forever. (OT but BookMooch is a little confused and keeps sending me notices for Madame Bovary saying that it’s Blindness)

  • raidergirl3

    Follow My Leader is a children’s books that I ordered from Scholastic that I loved when I was in grade 5. The main character loses his sight in a firecracker incident, and gets a guide dog.

    Mary Ingalls becomes blind after scarlet fever in the Little House books.

    I love your lists!

  • A Bookshelf Monstrosity

    Wow, I haven’t read any of these! I need to get on that…thanks for another great themed list :)

  • Lana

    I read one (I don’t recall which) of the Sir John Fielding mysteries by Bruce Alexander. They’re historical mysteries set during Britain’s Georgian period about the real-life blind magistrate Sir John Fielding (author Henry Fielding’s brother). I definitely enjoyed the one I read.

  • Laura

    I have read some of these books, but one of my favourites is Blind by Rachel DeWoskin