The main character, Denise, is black and autistic. The black (biracial to be specific in this case, but with an African American appearance) is rare enough in a Young Adult and/or Sci-fi novel…but the autism? I can legitimately say this is the first science fiction novel I’ve ever heard of with a main character that has a disability as serious as autism. Up until I read On the Edge of Gone, I’d only experienced three books that even mentioned prominent characters with disabilities. Two are in kid’s books (Chewy Noh‘s best friend, and Sam from Sam’s Top Secret Journal), and the third is from The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue. The rest of the time, everyone seems to be perfectly normal, and I think we miss out on something because of that.
Yes, its easier to write about someone who is ‘normal’, and whose concerns are ones that everyone can relate to, but those are not the only people in the world. We need more diversity like this. We need more protagonists that the differently abled population can identify with. Not only differently-abled is mentioned in this book, though. for Denise’s sister is a transgender girl. For the most part its talked about casually, but there are times when some of the common problems (such as wrong pronouns) are talked about, and there is a section where we learn about when Denise learned her sister was trans.
I honestly believe by promoting diversity in kids and young adult’s literature, we promote the acceptance of diversity in tomorrow’s generations. We need this.
Now, putting aside the diversity, which I obviously love, On the Edge of Gone is just a fantastically-written Young Adult book. It really is. Its also, while post-apocalyptic, not really a vivid tale of the world’s destruction. There aren’t sweeping descriptions of desolation. Its very localized, with emphasis more on the main character’s personal situation than anything else. I was instantly sucked into the story and found myself rooting for the characters and wincing at the situations that they were in.
Corinne Duvyis doesn’t just bring a desire to diversify literature to the table, she also brings a solid, hefty dose of raw talent, and this book is one that I think everyone will recognize the importance of.