Fallen is a book in the Will Trent/Faith Mitchell series. Followers of the series will know that Will has severe dyslexia, and is exploring the idea of leaving his emotionally abusive marriage to Angie and taking a chance on Sara, but he is truly feels that someone as smart as Sara could never want someone as stupid as him. Here's what Karin Slaughter had to say about Will's dyslexia and how it relates to Will and Sara's relationship:
Q) Will is dyslexic and yet very intelligent. He even mentions in Fallen that he listens to audiobooks! What made you decide to make him dyslexic when you introduced him? He passes very well, but will we see a point where he gets official treatment or help for this problem?
A) First, let me say that many dyslexics are not just intelligent, but highly intelligent. Einstein, Michelangelo. Richard Branson isn’t the only CEO who has dyslexia. In my experience, dyslexics tend to be driven, smart and fascinating people. It’s as if they excel because of, not in spite of, the disorder. Think about it this way: dyslexics use five times the brain area to perform language tasks. Five times! Their default programming was to give up on language, yet their brains found a way to rewire the pathways so they could communicate. This is not the work of a stupid brain.
So, to your question: Some writers use literacy as character development—so, much in the way that Hollywood shows “bad” characters smoking and wearing black hats, writers tend to paint their good characters as booklovers and all the bad ones as semi-literate Neanderthals. With Will, I wanted the challenge of writing about someone who can’t read well. (I should say here that he can read, it just takes him longer) Will’s dyslexia is something that holds him back, but only because he lets it. He won’t get help. He won’t tell people he has it. He is ashamed of it, like it’s something he can control. Now, not many people know this, but when I wrote the character of Will Trent, I knew that he would eventually meet Sara Linton. Sara looks at Will’s dyslexia the same way she looks at the color of his eyes; it’s something genetic, it’s wired into him and can’t be changed. She’s the first person in Will’s life who’s ever looked at him this way, and that’s something of a revelation to him. Now, as for getting occupational therapy, Sara is the exact wrong person to help him with this. And she doesn’t want to help him, because she knows that he has to reach that point on his own. Unlike Angie, Sara is very good at relationships, and she knows that there are lines you don’t cross. She wants to give Will his dignity. As for what Will ends up doing—they call it a “mystery” for a reason!