Tag Archives: Deaf

Review: Sail Me Away Home by Ann Clare LeZotte

Sail Me Away Home by Ann Clare LeZotte

Sail Me Away Home (Show Me a Sign #3)
Ann Clare LeZotte
Scholastic Press
Published on November 7, 2023

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Sail Me Away Home

This gripping, stand-alone story, set in the world of the award-winning SHOW ME A SIGN and SET ME FREE, shines a light on the origins of formal deaf education and celebrates the fullness of the Deaf experience.

As a young teacher on Martha’s Vineyard, Mary Lambert feels restless and adrift. So when a league of missionaries invites her to travel abroad, she knows it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Paris is home to a pioneering deaf school where she could meet its visionary instructors, Jean Massieu and Laurent Clerc—and even bring back their methods to help advance formal deaf education in America!

But the endeavor comes at a cost: The missionaries’ plan to “save” deaf children is questionable at best—and requires Mary’s support. What’s more, the missionaries’ work threatens the Wampanoag and other native peoples’ freedom and safety. Is pursuing Mary’s own goals worth the price of betraying her friends and her own values?

So begins a feverish and fraught adventure, filled with cunning characters, chance encounters, and new friendships. Together with SHOW ME A SIGN and SET ME FREE, this stunning stand-alone story completes an unforgettable trilogy that will enrich your understanding of the deaf experience and forever alter your perspective on ability and disability.

My Review

I loved revisiting Mary and her family in their island community. In this book, it’s not a terrible crisis that pulls her away from home, but a growing awareness of how some people are marginalized or excluded. In part, this happens as she teaches school for her community, and the local leaders only agree to keep her on as a teacher if she refuses to allow Irish children into the classroom. Mary balks at this and finds a way around this ruling, but she feels stifled and angry at the cruelty of it.

In some ways, this is a gentler story than the previous two in the series. It still reveals to readers some of the prejudices the Deaf faced in the early 1800s. This time, we’re introduced to the development of a formal sign language and a formal school for the Deaf.

I liked getting to see those historical moments brought to life through a character as vibrant and creative as Mary is. I also loved that the whole story reads as if it were Mary’s journal. The chapters aren’t written as journal entries, but the tone felt like that to me. It feels as if she’s speaking directly to the reader, the way someone might write in a diary or journal.

On the whole, I think this is a great series and I’ve really enjoyed reading it.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Mary is Deaf and speaks only in signs. Other characters are Deaf and speaking or Wampanoag tribe members.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content
Mary travels with some pretty judgy missionaries. They turn their noses up at other Christian churches and shun anyone they deem not holy enough. They also manipulate and pressure others or flat-out try to control them. There is some discussion about the harm this high-pressure mission work can cause to the communities it infiltrates by forcing indigenous people to convert. Mary also worries about the construction of a school near an indigenous village. She worries the children will be forced to give up their culture or not allowed to return home.

Violent Content
Someone attempts to kidnap Mary. A few members of Mary’s community say harsh, judgmental things to her. Mary faces some ableist and prejudiced treatment from her traveling companions. She tries to write some of it off as well-meaning ignorance, but some of it is deeply hurtful and harmful.

Drug Content
Someone brings Mary a breakfast tray containing a glass of champagne.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything but help support this blog. I received a free copy of SAIL ME AWAY HOME in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Give Me a Sign by Anna Sortino

Give Me a Sign
Anna Sortino
G. P. Putnam & Sons
Published July 11, 2023

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Give Me a Sign

Jenny Han meets CODA in this big-hearted YA debut about first love and Deaf pride at a summer camp.

Lilah is stuck in the middle. At least, that’s what having a hearing loss seems like sometimes—when you don’t feel “deaf enough” to identify as Deaf or hearing enough to meet the world’s expectations. But this summer, Lilah is ready for a change.

When Lilah becomes a counselor at a summer camp for the deaf and blind, her plan is to brush up on her ASL. Once there, she also finds a community. There are cute British lifeguards who break hearts but not rules, a YouTuber who’s just a bit desperate for clout, the campers Lilah’s responsible for (and overwhelmed by)—and then there’s Isaac, the dreamy Deaf counselor who volunteers to help Lilah with her signing.

Romance was never on the agenda, and Lilah’s not positive Isaac likes her that way. But all signs seem to point to love. Unless she’s reading them wrong? One thing’s for Lilah wanted change, and things here . . . they’re certainly different than what she’s used to.

My Review

It’s funny the way book life works out sometimes. Just last week, I was talking about a book that the author wrote because she wanted to see a story featuring a whole cast of people with disabilities, and those are so exceedingly rare.

And here we are, today, talking about another book with a cast largely made up of people with disabilities. There are still not enough books like this. I just thought it was interesting that, without realizing it, I’ve scheduled reviews for two of them in the same month.

I love that this is a summer camp book. It really delivered the atmosphere, relationships, and outdoor adventures that you’d expect to find in a summer camp book.

I’m not Deaf, and I don’t have anyone in my life currently who is, so I don’t have any experience with Deaf culture. This book was very welcoming and helped me feel both immersed and oriented in what the characters were experiencing.

One of the camp counselors is not Deaf, but she positions herself as an interpreter on her social media channels, even though she is still learning ASL herself. Her behavior and beliefs trigger a lot of conversations among the campers and other counselors. At first I worried a little bit that she would kind of be positioned as a sort of one-dimensional character to stand in for all the ways hearing people get stuff wrong.

That’s not what happens, though. I mean, she does get some things wrong, for sure. There are several really cool conversations about how her behavior makes other people feel, and some conversations with the wanna-be interpreter herself that were really deep, too. The relationship with her also becomes an opportunity for Lilah to consider the unsatisfying parts of relationships with other hearing people in her life and what might change if she advocated for herself more effectively.

I loved Lilah. At the beginning, she’s scared and uncertain and so not sure what to do about the parts of her life that aren’t working. She remembers camp as a safe haven, and a place that helped her feel more confident, so she decides to try to get a summer job there.

At the job, she really blossoms. She helps some of the campers. Makes new friends. Gamely navigates new ways of doing things. She also falls for a boy. The whole romantic thread of the story is super sweet, too. It’s the best kind of summer romance.

There was one scene in GIVE ME A SIGN that really shocked me. I wasn’t expecting it, and Lilah’s panic and frustration were palpable. It’s a really good scene, but it was also heartbreaking.

Altogether, though, this might be one of my favorite summer books this year. I loved it, and absolutely recommend it to anyone looking for a great summer camp read or a book featuring Deaf characters.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Most major characters are Deaf or blind. At least one minor character is Black. Another character is Dominican American. Two minor characters are gay.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used somewhat frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
A (young) boy jumps on Lilah while she’s swimming. She’s playing with another child in the water and isn’t prepared for him to do this. She’s worried about him accidentally hurting her, and he’s so rough it tears her bathing suit.

A man grabs a Deaf person from behind, causing a scuffle. The police get involved and scrape the person’s face on the ground trying to restrain them. They refuse to listen to someone who tells them that the restrained person is Deaf and cannot hear their shouted orders. The officer refuses to allow the restrained person to access their phone or writing materials which would allow them to communicate (and would have really helped defuse the situation, honestly).

Drug Content
The counselors go to a local bar where everyone but Lilah and one other person drinks alcohol. Several of them are under 21.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of GIVE ME A SIGN in exchange for my honest review. All opinions my own.

Review: Impossible Music by Sean Williams

Impossible Music
Sean Williams
Clarion Books
Published July 2, 2019

Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads


Before the stroke that left him deaf, music was Simon’s life. Now, his band breaks up and even his future college career studying musical composition is in jeopardy. How can a deaf student study music?

The only bright spot in all of it is a fierce girl Simon meets at Auslan class, where he learns sign language to communicate. G seems just as angry to be there as Simon feels, and the two strike up a friendship that inspires Simon to find new ways to pursue music. He begins developing ideas that would allow Deaf and hearing audience members to experience music in the same way, desperately hoping to impress a music professor in a composition program that Simon hopes to enter.

My Review

The concept of IMPOSSIBLE MUSIC totally hooked me. I love books about angsty musicians, so I knew I’d like Simon. I like fierce female characters, so I suspected I’d like G and Simon’s little sister, Maeve, also stole my heart. She’s strong and sometimes pushy, but you really get the sense that underneath that is a lot of love for her family.

In terms of the plot, this must have been a tough book to write. I felt like it dragged sometimes, but I don’t think that actually had to do with the pacing of the plot. I think it had more to do with the stakes. Simon’s goal is to find a way to celebrate/study/participate in music as a young deaf man. If he fails, he’ll be very sad. It’s not that that isn’t compelling. But I didn’t feel like the stakes ratcheted up as the story progressed.

I like the way the story braids together Simon’s love for music and his love for G. In lots of ways her emotional journey seems to be a mirror of his, sometimes revealing things to Simon that he wasn’t ready to face about himself. But she also calls him out on things he’s not ready to face, too. They make a good pair.

Readers who liked THE SCAR BOYS by Len Vlahos will like the gritty, emotional writing and the “diary of a band boy” style of the story.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Simon and G are Deaf. IMPOSSIBLE MUSIC is set in Australia.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used frequently. I struggled with the amount of swearing in the book, I think because it really felt gratuitous to me.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl. Simon and G spend nights together, and it’s hinted that they’re having sex but not explicitly described.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
References to a suicide attempt.

Drug Content
Simon and his friends drink alcohol, which is legal at eighteen in Australia.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog. I received a free copy of IMPOSSIBLE MUSIC in exchange for my honest review.