Jeannie Zusy has written several full-length plays, screenplays, and works of fiction. Her work has been performed off-Broadway and appeared in McSweeney’s. The Frederick Sisters Are Living the Dream is her first novel.
According to the Special Olympics, there are approximately 6.5 million people diagnosed with intellectual disabilities in the United States. Worldwide, approximately 200 million. Intellectual disability is a term used to describe a person with “certain limitations in cognitive functioning and skills.” As someone who grew up with a sibling with ID, I witnessed the many challenges my brother had and observed the impact he had on every member of the family. My brother Davie brought so much sweetness to our lives. He challenged us, taught us compassion and resilience, and even now that he is gone, provides us with daily inspiration. Having a family member with this kind of developmental disability is a great responsibility and special honor.
After my brother died, I was inspired to write about our adventures together, particularly the last three years of his life, when my siblings and I relocated him from the small town where we all grew up to live near me and my family in a different state. Soon, the story had a life of its own. It turned into a novel called The Frederick Sisters Are Living the Dream, about a woman named Maggie taking care of her sister Ginny. Here are some novels that moved and enlightened me in which one of the central characters has intellectual disabilities.