Anne Hatley who is physically disabled go to the colony so that the Drs there can study her DNA. However it becomes clear that the other people in the colony submit to cures for these disorders. Anne holds up as long as she can then breaks under pressure and submits to a procedure that will help her regenerate a leg. The process goes very very wrong.
At it heart this is a story that symbolizes the discord between the disabled and the able. The able think they have all the answers but in reality a lot of their cures had negative effects.
This resounds with me because I am Deaf, I had Dr’s try and fix me my whole life but of course nothing worked. I was lucky in that there was no lasting damage but what about those who are not so lucky. There are stories up on stories of cutting edge procedures that were supposed to work but in reality left the person worse off than before.
It is not just the physical aspect of it either. The psychological aspects can be just as damaging. The able people are telling the disabled that it is not ok the way you are so we must fix you. There is a scene in the book that details Anne’s breaking point. It is spot on. After that scene she decides to go ahead with what is supposed to be the cure.
The dialog that goes on between Anne and the rest of the characters seem to be spot on on how describing how a disabled person feels about their disabilities. I know some authors try but Jillian Weise really is talented in this regard. There is no pity overtones. She tells it in its most raw form. That is a skill that many other authors lack.
I was impressed by the author's use of magical realism to portray what happens in everyday life more accurately. Things that would not be possible in real life but as an allusion are used to greatly magnify what the cure does to the colonist. Weiss turns it into a powerful message for the disabled and against ableleism.
I would recommend this book to everyone. We all need to get in on the fight to equality and one way to do that is to stop practicing ableism. Once we realism the harm that it does we can take steps to correct it. This is a piece of fiction yes but it packs a powerful message.