True Biz

If you want to read a book with a refreshing perspective, then pick this book up.

I will admit, I haven’t read many books about characters who are Deaf, and I’ve definitely not read any written by Deaf community members. This failing is in part because I have not sought them out, but also because I don’t think many are being published. Let’s work on that, shall we?

True Biz follows three people, Charlie (a 16 year-old girl), Austin (a 17 year-old boy), and February (a woman in her 30s and the headmistress of River Valley School for the Deaf). Each perspective added to the narrative and represented three unique perspectives on the Deaf and hearing community. I’d say Charlie is the main protagonist and her story is the most captivating. Austin is a young white boy and boy can you tell. If you ever need an example about how just because someone has a disadvantage societally in one way, it does not mean they don’t have privilege elsewhere. February is a grounding perspective amongst the three while still being flawed and dealing with personal challenges. These characters are so unique to each other it made it impossible for their stories to blend together and become confusing. Their voices were so unique you never felt like you were lost in the reading process.

Charlie has never attended a school for the Deaf. She has been living in the hearing world being forced to live and function in a society that not only is not built for her, but doesn’t want her there. So when she gets the chance to be with people like her, she is excited, albeit tentatively. It’s new, and she’s a young kid unsure of what her experience will be like and how people will treat her. She’s nervous about learning sign and communicating with her peers who have all been signing their whole lives. It’s overwhelming, intimidating. She’s not exactly a goody two shoes. She’s rebellious and anti-authority, and this gets her into some less than savory situations. As an adult reading this I was like “girl, please be safe” but as a reader I was very into it. I love a complex character that doesn’t always do what’s best for them.

February’s story focuses on her relationship with her wife and her mother, and the school. Her mother is Deaf and has dementia. She keeps forgetting that her husband is dead and that February is her daughter. And try as she might, February is not having the easiest time navigating that. The school is in danger of closing leaving all of these children with no safe places to attend school. No schools that are specifically designed to help them and treat them like how hearing people are treated. Her life is Stressful and messy. There is one plot line with her that I was questioning whether or not it needed to be included, and also was deeply frustrated with her decisions. Which, truly, is not inherently a bad thing.

Austin was my least favorite person to read from. I personally didn’t find him all that exciting or interesting. I was far more interested in his family. The tension and drama there was captivating and intriguing. I wasn’t so much intrigued by him. I think that that unfortunately made his sections more forgettable. I remember some things pretty well, but a lot of it didn’t take residence.

I LOVED the sections that went through Deaf history and signs for us to learn as readers. It was amazing learning about things that never even occurred to me to learn, and getting to know more than the basic sign language that I know is really cool. It’s been a few months since I’ve read this and I still use some of those signs. Which is great and I’m pretty sure the point. Make signing more common. There is some controversy about this book, and I get it, but also think it’s a bit dramatic. I don’t even remember the bit that causes the most concern, it didn’t stick out to me. But maybe that’s because I wasn’t looking for it, or because I wouldn’t be hung up on it to begin with? I do think that it is something that could have been cut without changing anything to the story and its impact so it’s interesting that it was kept in there.

Anyway, I recommend this book (is it getting annoying that I am saying this at the end of every review?). It was a Reese’s Book Club pick so I’m sure many, if not most, of you have read it or at the very least heard about it. If you need the push to pick it up, let this review be that. Also!!! It’s gay!

Published by keelinrita

A Chicago girl with a lot of feelings about fictional people.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: