“Set in an institution for kids with disabilities, this story unfolds in first-person narratives by the kids themselves as well as some of the adults who work there. Instances of indignity, injustice, and lack of care abound in this important story, but what comes across most powerfully is the complexity and uniqueness of each character. What they have in common on the surface is some form of disability, but what they share more deeply with each other and with the reader is the universal desire for respect, understanding, and the freedom to make their own decisions and manage their own lives. Nussbaum minces no words in exposing harsh realities, but her language for those who struggle, survive, and advocate on behalf of themselves and others is triumphant. In a word - terrific!”
— Ann Christophersen, Women & Children First, Chicago, IL
Bellwether Award winner Susan Nussbaum's powerful novel invites us into the lives of a group of typical teenagers--alienated, funny, yearning for autonomy--except that they live in an institution for juveniles with disabilities. This unfamiliar, isolated landscape is much the same as the world outside: friendships are forged, trust is built, love affairs are kindled, and rules are broken. But those who call it home have little or no control over their fate. Good Kings Bad Kings challenges our definitions of what it means to be disabled in a story told with remarkable authenticity and in voices that resound with humor and spirit.
“This is fiction at its best. The story’s sharp eye allows no one to take shelter, and it doesn’t flinch; it is simply and breathtakingly honest . . . A stunning accomplishment." - Barbara Kingsolver
“[Nussbaum’s] novel is all fierce energy and wit, a celebration of strength, dignity, and the cathartic pleasure of telling it like it is.” - Rosellen Brown, author of Before and After
"“A mighty first novel . . . Authentic, galvanizing, and righteous.” - Booklist, starred review
“Funny, heartbreaking, and inspiring . . . A stirring debut from a determined writer and activist.” - Publishers Weekly
“Nussbaum’s vivid portraits . . . reveal the three-dimensional humanity of people the rest of society is all too willing to neglect and ignore . . . A most appropriate winner of the 2012 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.” - Kirkus Reviews