If you're like me, reading is an escape but also a learning experience.

There's nothing like a good book and a cozy spot at home to unwind during rare moments of downtime. 

Many times, I prefer to read tales of characters whose lives are tenfold different from my own. 

I love a good mystery told through the eyes of a courageous, savvy heroine/hero or a historical romance shared from the diary of a lovelorn maiden whose paramour is off to war. 

But sometimes, reading tales of characters whose lives share some of the same aspects as mine brings me odd comfort as well. 

Here's a glance at three novels with special needs characters that I think everyone should read.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

In 1964, a young Norah Henry gives birth to twins during a snowstorm in Lexington, Kentucky. 

Her husband, David, an orthopedic surgeon, delivers the babies, with the help of a nurse. 

During the labor, David makes sure his wife is comfortable by administering drugs so when one of the twins, a girl, is born with an obvious handicap-Down Syndrome, young Norah doesn't remember their birth or her daughter. 

In a cruel, twisted moment, Dr. Henry chooses to send the baby away with the nurse and lies to his wife that the child passed away. 

For the next 25 years, David and Norah raise their other child, a healthy son, but his lie changes their lives forever. 

Wrecked with guilt, David's relationship with his wife, who continues to mourn for her daughter, becomes rocky while their son Paul must deal with their uneasy relationship and his own longing to know the sister he lost.

Up High in the Trees by Kiara Brinkman

This book will make you cry. 

It will also give you an insight into the mind of a child with Asperger's and make you grateful for your family. 

Young Sebby Lane tragically loses his pregnant mother when she is hit by a car. 

Already emotionally and sensory sensitive, Sebby's loss is nearly unbearable, resulting in him acting out, even biting a girl at school. 

Sebby's father, Stephen, overcome with his own grief, decides to take Sebby and himself to their summer home, where Stephen unfortunately falls deeper into his mourning. 

However, the change is good for Sebby, who reaches out to his teachers by writing them letters and becoming friends with two children from the neighborhood who are a bit unpleasant.

This story is told through brief vignettes, like a set of pictures from Sebby's special mind.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

If you didn't read this book in college or high school, you should have and your English Lit teacher should be scolded for not exposing students to this classic story of two men—Lenny and George—one who has a child-like mentality but brute strength, the other who takes on the role as a father-figure to the other. 

Both men want to put an end to their vagabond lifestyles and establish roots. 

Along the way of establishing a strong friendship, however, George must face the reality of Lenny's instability coupled with his strength.

I want to read more like this

 

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