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