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  • Eli Stuart (they/them)

"Get a Life, Chloe Brown" The Importance of Disabled Happy Endings

[Cover Image Description: Image is the cover of the book "Get a Life, Chloe Brown". The background is white and in red and pink-ish letters on the left reading "Get A Life, Chloe Brown". Around the word "Life" are light blue lines highlighting the word. The bottom right has (in order left to right): a gray cat, a woman who is short, Black, and fat who's hair is in a bun wearing blue glasses, a red shirt, blue skirt, and black flats, and a man who is white and has long red hair and is wearing a white t-shirt, black leather jacket, gray pants, and black boots. They are all drawn in a cartoon style. The man is bending over slightly to kiss the woman on the top of her head. On the bottom in blue letters read "Talia Hibbert" (the author's name). End of Image Description]


(TW: brief mentions of a abusive relationship, no details)

When a friend told me she had a book with a main character with fibromyalgia, I was filled with excitement. At this point in time, this is the first book I’ve read with a character with fibromyalgia that was fiction. The fact is that disabled people are vastly underrepresented in the media and that especially holds true for invisible disabilities. And when disabled people are seen, it is often full of bad and harmful stereotypes. So a character who was accurately portrayed, who was written by someone who actually has fibromyalgia, was important to me.

But before I begin, a quick synopsis: “Get a Life, Chloe Brown” follows Chloe Brown as she sets out to live her life to the fullest after a near death experience. In completing her list she ends up meeting and getting to know Red.

The novel is a romance between Chloe and Red with their individual struggles from past relationships. Red was in an abusive relationship with someone who was richer and higher class (like Chloe Brown) and Chloe has lost friends who didn’t wish to accommodate her fibromyalgia.

Personally, romance is not my favorite genre, but I loved it! The depths and growths that occur individually and as a couple is well-written and explored. The dive into the prejudices that came from Red due to his abusive ex-girlfriend and the toll emotional abuse leaves on your self-esteem is something not seen often in the media. This especially holds true in terms of a man being a victim of abuse from his female partner as abuse.

For me, however, I related more closely to Chloe. The fear and experience of being left behind due to your chronic illness is very real. Unfortunately, there are people who treat disabled people, including chronically ill people, as an inconvenience rather than a whole human being. That is also why many chronically ill people are hesitant to verbalize their pain or fatigue because of the fear of being seen as whiny, a burden, etc. This is also seen in Chloe when she tries to hide the fact that she is in pain when first meeting Red. But this book gives her a happy ending. Throughout, Red takes her needs into consideration and even in times of turmoil, he doesn’t use her disability against her. He takes initiative to accommodate and be there for Chloe in whatever way she asks for/needs. Red balances accommodating and not taking Chloe’s autonomy.

Talia Hibbert, the author, has said before about the importance of having a happy ending for Chloe, for chronically ill people. This also expands the intersectionality of Chloe being Black and fat and still getting a happy ending, getting a chance to be vulnerable, and getting to be beautiful, something that all too often is lacking in media.

Seeing characters who are disabled and have a story beyond that is so important. Fantasy characters, for example (my genre of choice), go on great adventures, learn magic, save worlds, etc. Things I like to imagine myself in. But it is made harder by the fact that I don’t know what it looks like for me to be there in my “normal”. All the characters “normal” end up isolating people. What is it like to be in a world of magic and also deal with chronic pain, to save the world as a neurodivergent person? Yes, disability touches every aspect of my life, but there are still other stories that go beyond that. Disabled people should be able to be main characters in stories of all genres, stories that end happily. Even if they are in stories that end less than ideally, their story isn’t sad because they are disabled, but sad just like any other character in a tragedy.


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