The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais is an unforgettable read spotlighting Deaf culture. There are so few books out there with Deaf main characters, so I was happy to see the confident and witty protagonist in this one. This book also respects the syntax of ASL as the author narrates Maya’s signs, and the many nuanced discussions about current debates in the Deaf community make it a must-read.Title: The Silence Between Us
Author: Alison Gervais
Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Deaf teen Maya moves across the country and must attend a hearing school for the first time. As if that wasn’t hard enough, she also has to adjust to the hearing culture, which she finds frustrating—and also surprising when some classmates, including Beau Watson, take time to learn ASL. As Maya looks past graduation and focuses on her future dreams, nothing, not even an unexpected romance, will derail her pursuits. But when people in her life—deaf and hearing alike—ask her to question parts of her deaf identity, Maya stands proudly, never giving in to the idea that her deafness is a disadvantage.
Review: The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais
Because of an illness four years ago, Maya lost her hearing. However, after her mother gets a new job, she is forced to move across the country and transfer to a hearing school for the first time. As the only Deaf student there, and the only one with an interpreter following her, Maya struggles to fit it at first. However, when one of her classmates starts learning sign language to communicate with her, things start looking up for her, and she finds a new group of friends, and even romance.
❀ Likeable Main Character
Maya is a likeable main character, and I admired her confidence. She loves herself the way she is, and she refuses to let people try to change her and push her to get a cochlear implant. At school, many people talk down to her, but I enjoyed the way she is unafraid to call them out on this behaviour. The book also contains many supportive side characters, which I always like to see. I especially enjoyed Maya’s interactions with her little brother and, of course, Beau, the boy who learns sign language for her.
❀ Fantastic Representation of Deaf People
One of my favourite parts about this book is its fantastic (in my opinion) representation of Deaf people. Throughout the story, there are many nuanced conversations about cochlear implants and their impact on Deaf identity, and through Maya’s character, the author discusses the way Deaf people don’t need to be “fixed.” I also loved the way the book uses the syntax of ASL when Maya signs. I have never seen this done before, and the way the sentences respect the grammar of ASL makes the story more realistic.
❀ A Moving Story
The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais is a moving story about loving yourself. The main character is realistic, and the representation of Deaf culture is the best I’ve seen in YA. I would recommend this to those looking for a contemporary with both humour and discussions of current social debates.