The First Thing About You

By Chaz Hayden

A high school student with spinal muscular atrophy is determined to reinvent himself in a hilarious and poignant YA debut from an exciting new voice.

Fans of John Green, Sara Barnard and Adam Silvera will love this character-driven contemporary YA that is packed with humour and heart. When his family moves from California to New Jersey, fifteen-year-old Harris is eager to prove he’s more than the kid in the powered wheelchair. Armed with his go-to icebreaker (“What’s your favourite colour?”), he’ll weed out the incompatibles – greens and purples, people too close to his own blue to make good friends – and surround himself with outgoing yellows, adventurous oranges and thrilling reds. But first he needs a nurse so his mum doesn’t have to escort him to school any more. Young, beautiful, and confident, Miranda more than fits the bill. Harris’s new aide sees him for who he is – funny, smart, and totally worthy of Nory Fischer, a cute and enigmatic classmate who won’t name her favourite colour. Soon Miranda has others interested in Harris too. But with demons of her own, does she have his best interests at heart?

Categories: Fiction

For readers aged: 14+

  • Publication details:
  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781529510942
  • Published: 01 Sep 2022
  • Price: £8.99
  • Size: 198 x 129 mm
  • Pages: 368

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Customer reviews


'[...] Readers will root for Harris even while wincing at his reckless decisions; Hayden, who has SMA (spinal muscular atrophy)himself, vividly captures Harris’ desire to belong and the pressure to transcend disability stereotypes. Melding wry wit, awkwardness, and introspection, Harris’ frank narration keeps the pages turning as he grapples with the uncomfortable, conflicting feelings of his romantic dilemma. The ending is a delightful pop of realism. [...] A witty, candid take on love, friendship, belonging, and disability' Kirkus Review

'Hayden has hit the mark with this debut novel by tapping into his own lived experience (Hayden has the same condition as Harris) to create an authentic narrative voice. An abled person writing this could have easily fallen into the trap of relying on stereotypes, or reducing the disabled character to 'inspiration porn'. This is why it's important that marginalised and under-represented people are given a platform to tell their own stories. Hayden shows us what it is like to live with a condition that renders you different to others, but also highlights the commonalities we share that make us human. At its heart, this is a story about what it means to be a teenager searching for acceptance and a sense of belonging, which anyone can relate to.' NetGalley

'“Debut author Hayden, who, like Harris, has SMA, writes with humor and compassion that instructs without lecturing. His funny, sarcastic, and smart narrator easily reminds the reader that people with disabilities have amazing abilities and, most important, are people first.”' Booklist

'This novel made me feel warm and cozy as I was reading it, it was a lovely book to read. The author has written such a lovely warm novel with such likeable characters I couldn’t help but fall in love with it.' A Cascade of Books

'Such a moving book filled with humour and love!' @kelliesam.books

'this is a must-read book for all teens. It will most certainly make you smile, it will most likely bring a tear to your eyes but it will also give you a brand-new perspective on the positive aspects of disability and help you, the reader, to understand how we all belong.' Armadillo Magazine

'Featured in Pen & Inc Autumn/Winter 2022 listings, highlighting the best in diversity and inclusion in children's books.' Pen & Inc

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