Warning: before clicking "read more", I strongly recommend you finish Summer Twilight. This post is focused on exploring a major plot twist that has shocking ramifications for both of our main characters, Alex and Caidy. I'm so excited to finally share some ~secrets~ about what happened - but be warned! If you click into this blog post you will encounter spoilers.
Proceed at your own risk.
Still with me? AMAZING. I've been dying to write this post since I started my blog, because the twist at the end of Summer Twilight is exactly the kind of thing I would want to learn lots more about if I was a reader.
As you (hopefully) already know, Caidy goes blind at the end of Summer Twilight as the result of a magical attack. It's a huge, gut-wrenching moment: we've been rooting for her since chapter 1, when Alex was nervous about seeing her again for the first time in years. It's also a daring decision, because Caidy is a main character, and her narrative is central to the plot of not just Summer Twilight, but the entire series. I've had more than one reader reach out wondering how I decided Caidy's fate - and what this means for book 2.
The Origin of the Twist
Here's the truth: I've known that Caidy would go blind since I started writing the book.
Let me set the stage - it's 2013, and I'm in my senior year of high school. I am also in a wheelchair and, for the first time in my life, considered disabled. It was also the first time in my life I didn't feel represented. I'm a white, upper-middle class female: in media, I'm everywhere. I see people who look and think like me on magazines and in movies, starring in TV shows and battling through the pages of my favorite books.
However, as someone with a physical disability, I was no longer represented. I was stereotyped and explained away, hidden from mainstream society because I was no longer considered "ideal", "attractive", or "beautiful". I was an ugly reminder that humans are fallible, that our bodies will eventually fail and we will no longer be young and perfect.
Representing someone with a disability as a main character in a fantasy series has been a goal of mine for a long time, ever since I was in that wheelchair enduring alternating stares and awkward glances. I want to remind the world that having a disability - from blindness to an inability to walk - doesn't mean you aren't capable, brilliant, and heroic.
That's why, in Summer Twilight, Caidy starts the story with her vision. The evolution of her life, from a visual and tactile person, an artist who loves to paint and draw, to having her world shattered by an accident, is important. Now that you know what happens, I invite you to look back at earlier chapters, to appreciate the detail and beauty she sees in the world. My goal was to really show you how much this loss means to her, and help you imagine some of the struggles she will face in future books as she comes to terms with her loss.
The parallels between her story and mine are intentional, as are the differences. As I've said before, I write to cope, to understand, to process - Caidy's journey has helped me understand my own. I do not pretend to intimately understand what it means to lose one's sight, or to learn to live without it and adapt. But I do understand loss, pain, and the fear that nothing will ever be normal again. I hope, through Caidy's experiences, you will as well.
Looking to the Future
I am so, so excited for the challenge that Caidy's blindness presents. She's an incredibly strong character, and I can promise you that losing her sight, while devastating, is not the end of her story. She remains a protagonist in the series, and learns how to not only survive without her sight but to thrive.
However, it's a long journey. As anyone who has experienced something huge and life-shattering will tell you, it happens in waves. There are the initial stages of grief and loss, from denial and anger all the way to acceptance. But, even once you have accepted things, it still hits you all over again occasionally. As time passes this gets easier and less frequent, but it never totally vanishes.
I'm really looking forward to taking you through Caidy's experience with blindness, from her tears of frustration to her triumphs and victories. I am proud to be able to represent a portion of the disabled community, and to help anyone struggling through their own hero's journey that they will reach the other side - even if it feels impossible right now.
Bridget is the author of Summer Twilight, available for purchase now!