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Some folks write themselves fanfic to celebrate their own birthdays. And I love that! It’s a present for everyone! But somehow my birthday always sneaks up on me, and I am the slowest writer in fandom to boot, so I’ll have to share something else that I can just whip up. And I’ve got just the thing!

[livejournal.com profile] harrigan’s history with fictional (literary) orthopedic trauma!

I guess what I like about orthopedic trauma is that it doesn’t turn the hero into a damsel-in-distress. I like my heroes to be frustrated and hurting with the effort to persevere in spite of their injuries, but still actively involved in the story and its resolution. Here are some actual books I like for that reason.

  • Looking back, I guess it’s significant that the first word I can remember ever looking up in the dictionary was osteomyelitis. I was probably 8-10, reading a biography of Mickey Mantle. And the man had more character flaws than any human I ever met, but I was young and naïve and what mattered to me was that he played baseball with a painful chronic bone disease. My birthday rec (oops, it's a movie) to all of you is this film if you like buddy flicks with h/c.

  • In early grade school, I was wading through all the Louisa May Alcott books I could find. (Yes, I’m old. Don’t rub it in; it’s my birthday!) And I hope, like me, you’ve read and enjoyed Little Men, the sequel to Little Women. I was so enamored with rebellious young teen Dan and his sprained ankle that I swore to name my first-born son Dan. (And I kept that promise!)

  • In junior high, I discovered the genre of romantic suspense. But there was rarely enough hero-bashing for my taste. The first one I ever read was The Moonspinners, by Mary Stewart. Anyone here remember the Disney movie with Hayley Mills? I adored the island setting, but that bullet wound to Mark’s shoulder was, of course, my favorite part!

  • High school sucked me into the murder mystery genre. Much better hero-bashing there! And best of all was Dick Francis, whose books (especially the early ones) always featured jockeys or ex-jockeys used to physical punishment. Now, these aren’t whodunits, where the reader is challenged to solve the mystery. The reader knows the bad guy all along. The suspense is whether the hero will find the bad guy and thwart his dastardly plot and/or get him arrested before the bad guy discovers our protagonist and makes him pay! Who among us can resist an author whose titles include Bonecrack, and (in another book) whose dedication is made out to the orthopedic surgeon he consulted with? The early books are the best. Fans of heroes with traumatically-induced permanent disability should especially like the Sid Halley books available together or separately. (Usually each Dick Francis book has a new protagonist; he doesn’t use a recurring sleuth. But Sid is an exception.)

  • No mention of high school would be complete without mentioning A Separate Peace by John Knowles. Right?

  • I dabbled briefly in fantasy/sci fi in high school, but it didn’t really take root until college and after. For orthopedic trauma (leg injuries!), my favorite author is C.J. Cherryh. There’s Rusalka, which might appeal to other SPN fans who like a good buddy story wrapped up in a supernatural quasi-Russian mythology with plenty of leg ouchies and injury complications. (I didn’t enjoy the sequels as much.) The Paladin ‘s setting is more medieval Asian, and the gruff war-scarred male protagonist has a permanent limp. This one is for those who like fics with a spunky female protagonist, too. But my favorite of all this author’s fantasy work is The Morgaine Saga (three books) and the final book in the series: Exile’s Gate. Another one with male and female leads/partners, but it’s the young man, Vanye, who revs my engine with the damage he endures. I read book 4 first (because I saw the cover in the bookstore and liked it – LOL!), then book 3 (the earlier ones were out of print then, but are available again now). While they do take place in chronological order, you can read them in any sequence. Book 3 has a great, long-lasting knee injury, and Book 4 has torture where the emphasis is on recovery rather than the vivid brutality.

  • While we’re on the subject of leg trauma, I ought to throw in a mention for A Murder of Crows by Margaret Duffy. It’s like Scarecrow and Mrs. King!, but set in idyllic England, and more R-rated for violence. There’s a whole series of books with this couple, but it’s the first book where Patrick’s leg injury gets the most attention! It’s out of print, but available used.

  • Prefer something a little more light-hearted, and don’t mind waiting till the last chapter or two for the broken leg? I’m fond of this classic from 1915: Dear Enemy by Jean Webster, where the heroine finds herself unexpectedly running an orphanage with the sporadic assistance of a cantankerous and mysterious Scottish doctor. Who dashes into a burning building and saves a toddler and then the building-in-flames crashes in on him, but then I think they get him out but drop him from the second story ladder - oops. And dang, now I've spoiled it for you, too!

  • For something much more recent, there's The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I think everyone here already knows all about it, and I don’t want to say anything more to spoil those who haven’t yet read it but plan to.

  • Finally, how about a mainstream book you’re not embarrassed to suggest to your local book club? This rec is also the book I would most like to see as a movie - with Jared Padalecki cast as Tom: Resistance by Anita Shreve. It’s what the title says it is – a young woman in the Resistance in WWII helps a downed American pilot – but it’s a lot more!

How about you all? Any favorite books with orthopedic (preferably limb) trauma? (I confess, I like the hero, not the heroine, impaired.) Tell me about your faves! Or - have you read any of these? Have you read Resistance, but mentally cast Jensen in the role of Tom? I'd take that, too!
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