Author: Chrissie Keighery
On the Shelves: Young Adult Fiction> Contemporary
I’m always trying to figure out what’s really going on. Always having to fill in the gaps, but never getting all the details. It’s like trying to do a jigsaw when I don’t even know what the picture is, and I’m missing one of the vital middle pieces.
How do you know if your friends are talking about you behind your back or if a boy likes you? They could act innocent, but you’d know from the rumours. You’d hear the whispers. But what if you couldn’t hear those whispers anymore? What if everything you took for granted was gone? Being a teenager is hard enough.
But being a deaf teenager? (Goodreads 2014)
I first read this book back in 2012, when it appeared on my radar and immediately grabbed my attention. I’ve been interested in learning sign language for a good decade now (I’ve got my level 2 in BSL), but also I enjoy learning about Deaf culture, along with all the opinions and debates around the subject of audism which go along with it. For example, should babies be given cochlear implants? You know that viral video of the toddler “hearing for the first time”? Yeah, I know a few Deaf people who hate that video, and everything it represents. Personally, I- as a hearing person- actually agree that it is a bad thing- but that is not the point of this review- I just wanted to explain how this came about on my radar.
The story follows Demi, a teenage girl who loses her hearing at age 14, due to meningitis. This book follows how she adjusts to her life and all the choices that come with it, while she adjusts from living a Hearing lifestyle to a Deaf lifestyle. Through the constant hope and following disappointment that her hearing will come back, through the debates by herself and her parents about getting a cochlear implant and learning sign language, and one of the biggest decisions for a teenager: going to a specialist school for the Deaf instead of a “normal” school.
I enjoyed this book, I re-read it in 2013, when I remembered I actually had a misprint in my edition, emailed the publishers, and they sent me a new and shiny fixed copy within a week of asking! (Thank you, Templar! Excellent customer service there!)
While this book is full of character stereotypes, for example, the overly nagging mother who begs her to live a “normal” life and not shy away from her hearing friends, a hearing love interest and a best friend from the new school who is more than a little bitter about her Deafness- however, I felt that this book considered the issues and debates around this controversial topic really well and also highlights a lot of issues in the world of Deaf culture and within the communication between Deaf and hearing persons well. I did feel it could have been more in depth and/or detailed in terms of the characters and plot line, but it is a solid book and I enjoyed it (enough to re-read and request a fixed copy!)
I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys contemporary (YA) fiction which discusses controversial topics
I’d love to read more books which feature plots and characters concerning Deafness and Deaf culture, if anyone has any recommendations?