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Good Kings, Bad Kings

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Bellwether Award winner Susan Nussbaum's powerful novel invites us into the lives of a group of typical teenagers — alienated, funny, yearning for autonomy — except that they live in an institution for juveniles with disabilities. This unfamiliar, isolated landscape is much the same as the world outside: friendships are forged, trust is built, love affairs are kindled, and rules are broken. But those who call it home have little or no control over their fate. Good Kings Bad Kings challenges our definitions of what it means to be disabled in a story told with remarkable authenticity and in voices that resound with humor and spirit.

Review:

"This is fiction at its best. The story's sharp eye allows no one to take shelter, and it doesn't flinch; it is simply and breathtakingly honest....A stunning accomplishment." Barbara Kingsolver

Review:

"[Nussbaum's] novel is all fierce energy and wit, a celebration of strength, dignity, and the cathartic pleasure of telling it like it is." Rosellen Brown, author of "Before and After"

Review:

"A mighty first novel....Authentic, galvanizing, and righteous." Booklist, starred review

Review:

"Funny, heartbreaking, and inspiring....A stirring debut from a determined writer and activist." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"Nussbaum's vivid portraits...reveal the three-dimensional humanity of people the rest of society is all too willing to neglect and ignore....A most appropriate winner of the 2012 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"A KNOCKOUT....A book that has the potential to change forever the conversation we are (or are not) having about what it means to be 'disabled'....In Good Kings Bad Kings, we have the rare opportunity to be awakened by hearing the truth delivered with beauty alongside agony, despair interwoven with possibility." Los Angeles Review of Books

Review:

"Nussbaum wonderfully sweetens a stark subject with doses of idiosyncratic humor and hard-earned pathos...[she] upholds the individuality and integrity of her characters, never stooping to saccharine cliches or Hollywood manipulation...[a] moving story." The Wall Street Journal

Review:

"This is a world as foreign to most as another planet. That Nussbaum is able to make it as real and as painful and joyful and alive as she does is a spectacular accomplishment...a joy for readers." Chicago Tribune

Review:

"Each character tells his or her own story in alternating chapters with lively, diverse, authentic voices....Nussbaum will have readers rooting for these brave, vulnerable teens to fight for better lives." School Library Journal

Synopsis:

This powerful and inspiring debut invites us into a landscape populated with young people whose lives have been irreversibly changed by misfortune but whose voices resound with resilience, courage, and humor. Inside the halls of ILLC, an institution for juveniles with disabilities, we discover a place that is deeply different from and yet remarkably the same as the world outside. Nussbaum crafts a multifaceted portrait of a way of life hidden from most of us. In this isolated place on Chicago's South Side, friendships are forged, trust is built, and love affairs begin. It's in these alliances that the residents of this neglected community ultimately find the strength to bond together, resist their mistreatment, and finally fight back. And in the process, each is transformed.

About the Author

Susan Nussbaum’s plays have been widely produced. Her play Mishuganismo is included in the anthology Staring Back: The Disability Experience from the Inside Out. In 2008 she was cited by the Utne Reader as one of “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World” for her work with girls with disabilities. This is her first novel.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

The Loopy Librarian, December 16, 2013 (view all comments by The Loopy Librarian)
This book gives the reader insight into a world rarely visited; a world well known to the author. It is the world of the disabled. In particular, it is the world of the institutionalized where residents are young and have little to no say in their own lives. Everything is determined for them including when they rise, what they eat, when they shower, etc. They try to navigate this world with humor, friendships, and even romance but are often at the mercy of neglectful, even abusive caregivers. The author reveals the story through the eyes of several different characters, all of whom are complex and interesting. The characters are revealed to have strength, anger, frustration, and humor. Their is no self-pity here, but there are also no Pollyannas. These are real people with real emotions and real lives. This book affects the reader’s view of the ‘disabled’ and has the reader cheering when these residents take a stand. The author is unflinching in her writing. The language is coarse and some of the story, like the abuse, is very hard to read. However, this book needed to be written and it needs to be read. Social injustice like that portrayed here should never go unaddressed. What I liked most about this book was the fact that I often forgot that the characters were disabled because in their thoughts and actions they were not defined by their disabilities. Able-bodied people often neglect to see past disabilities to the person underneath. This book is an eye-opener.

Quotes:

“Dissatisfaction with my work makes me feel more employed” (p. 13).
“Once you laugh with a person? That person is your friend. You can’t help it” (p. 34).
“Not that invisibility is hard to achieve when you’re a crip. We’re minor characters in someone else’s story” (p. 104).

In accordance with FTC guidelines, please note that I received a free copy of this book through LibraryThing Early Reviewers in exchange for an honest review.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No

Product Details

ISBN:
9781616203252
Author:
Nussbaum, Susan
Publisher:
Algonquin Books
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
General Fiction
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20131112
Binding:
Paperback
Language:
English
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Good Kings, Bad Kings New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$14.95 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Algonquin Books - English 9781616203252 Reviews:
"Review" by , "This is fiction at its best. The story's sharp eye allows no one to take shelter, and it doesn't flinch; it is simply and breathtakingly honest....A stunning accomplishment."
"Review" by , "[Nussbaum's] novel is all fierce energy and wit, a celebration of strength, dignity, and the cathartic pleasure of telling it like it is."
"Review" by , "A mighty first novel....Authentic, galvanizing, and righteous."
"Review" by , "Funny, heartbreaking, and inspiring....A stirring debut from a determined writer and activist."
"Review" by , "Nussbaum's vivid portraits...reveal the three-dimensional humanity of people the rest of society is all too willing to neglect and ignore....A most appropriate winner of the 2012 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction."
"Review" by , "A KNOCKOUT....A book that has the potential to change forever the conversation we are (or are not) having about what it means to be 'disabled'....In Good Kings Bad Kings, we have the rare opportunity to be awakened by hearing the truth delivered with beauty alongside agony, despair interwoven with possibility."
"Review" by , "Nussbaum wonderfully sweetens a stark subject with doses of idiosyncratic humor and hard-earned pathos...[she] upholds the individuality and integrity of her characters, never stooping to saccharine cliches or Hollywood manipulation...[a] moving story."
"Review" by , "This is a world as foreign to most as another planet. That Nussbaum is able to make it as real and as painful and joyful and alive as she does is a spectacular accomplishment...a joy for readers."
"Review" by , "Each character tells his or her own story in alternating chapters with lively, diverse, authentic voices....Nussbaum will have readers rooting for these brave, vulnerable teens to fight for better lives."
"Synopsis" by , This powerful and inspiring debut invites us into a landscape populated with young people whose lives have been irreversibly changed by misfortune but whose voices resound with resilience, courage, and humor. Inside the halls of ILLC, an institution for juveniles with disabilities, we discover a place that is deeply different from and yet remarkably the same as the world outside. Nussbaum crafts a multifaceted portrait of a way of life hidden from most of us. In this isolated place on Chicago's South Side, friendships are forged, trust is built, and love affairs begin. It's in these alliances that the residents of this neglected community ultimately find the strength to bond together, resist their mistreatment, and finally fight back. And in the process, each is transformed.
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