The Pearls of Yesterday Review Interview: Fabiola
Our YA romance novel, L.S. Rydde’s The Pearls of Yesterday, is already resonating with readers! We had the chance to talk to two advocates for disability representation in media about why they hope to see more diverse characters in literature, their own experiences with disability representation, and what it means to them to see disabled main characters in romance stories. Read on to find out Fabiola’s thoughts!
What do you love the most about romance stories?
I love that most of them have a happy ending. Despite all the sad moments, the conflicts, the miscommunication, and everything the couple goes through, most of the time, it works out, and they end up together. It’s very comforting.
What’s the first book you fell in love with?
I remember when I was young, I loved the Fablehaven series. I’ve read through it so many times. I was so obsessed.
What’s the first book you saw a positive disability representation of, and how did it make you feel?
It was a book called Knot My Type, which had a main character with a wheelchair user. It got me into reading more books with disability representation. The Pearls of Yesterday was what I read after that. I like reading books with able-bodied main characters, but there’s something so special about being able to see yourself in a book and relate to the main character.
Can you tell us about how it felt reading The Pearls of Yesterday?
I found out about it before it was published. I couldn’t wait to read it since the main character is Latinx, a wheelchair user, and has muscular dystrophy—those are also my identities. I have something that’s literally me, in a book! But it was also the small things that were casually integrated in the book that showed what life is like for a wheelchair user.
I remember when I first read it and at the beginning of a chapter, Abby talked about getting helped out of bed and into the shower and like all books, it’s simply describing the actions of the character. But seeing the representation of having a caregiver helping with these activities was so important to me.
In what ways did you see yourself represented in The Pearls of Yesterday and its characters?
I loved the accessibility features that were mentioned. I love that the limo that Hudson got for the debutante ball was accessible. I have an accessible van, so it really connected with me. I also loved that her house had accessible features, like having the elevator. It reminded me of my own life since my dad is a carpenter, and he modified our house to be accessible, like making wider doors and putting ramps instead of stairs.
In what ways do you believe The Pearls of Yesterday helps fight stereotypes/stigmas in the media about disabled people falling in love?
I feel like the media portrays disability as a tragedy. I remember a specific line where Abby mentions that when she goes out, people are surprised she’s out and about in her wheelchair. She said it’s not special, it’s just normal, and I agree. They did a great job portraying her as a normal teenage girl who just happens to have a disability—like how she was planning out her first kiss and wearing lip gloss, like other teenagers do. Relationships and the romantic aspect of someone’s life is a normal and natural process for someone who is disabled.
We hope that The Pearls of Yesterday inspires a long line of romance novels representing disabled people falling in love, disproving the stereotypes surrounding love & disabilities. What do you personally hope for the future of disability representation in books and other media?
I hope there is more representation in general because once I read the first book, all I wanted was to read more. The selection is so limited. Books like The Pearls of Yesterday are also intersectional, having a character who is Latinx and disabled; disability comes with all different kinds of identities, so more intersectional representation is also needed.
Watch our full interview with Fabiola here!
About the Reviewer:
Fabiola Amaya is a first-year social work student with a critical disability studies minor at the University of Texas. In her free time, she loves to read romance and fantasy novels. Fabiola ties her passion for disability justice advocacy to her love for books by reading books that feature disabled characters and portray an accurate representation of this community. Fabiola also loves to write and hopes to incorporate different forms of representation she has learned from her education and reading into her work.