September 17, 2019

#BookReview: The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais

Synopsis: Moving halfway across the country to Colorado right before senior year isn’t Maya’s idea of a good time. Leaving behind Pratt School for the Deaf where she’s been a student for years only to attend a hearing school is even worse. Maya has dreams of breaking into the medical field and is determined to get the grades and a college degree to match, and she’s never considered being Deaf a disability. But her teachers and classmates at Engelmann High don’t seem to share her optimism.

And then there’s Beau Watson, Engelmann’s student body president and overachiever. Maya suspects Beau’s got a hidden agenda when he starts learning ASL to converse with her, but she also can’t deny it’s nice to sign with someone amongst all the lip reading she has to do with her hearing teachers and classmates. Maya has always been told that Deaf/hearing relationships never work, and yet she can’t help but be drawn to Beau as they spend more and more time together.

But as much Maya and Beau genuinely start to feel for one another, there are unmistakable differences in their worlds. When Maya passes up a chance to receive a cochlear implant, Beau doesn’t understand why Maya wouldn’t want to hear again. Maya is hurt Beau would want her to be anything but who she is—she’s always been proud to be Deaf, something Beau won’t ever be able to understand. Maya has to figure out whether bridging that gap between the Deaf and hearing worlds will be worth it, or if staying true to herself matters more.

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About the Author: Alison Gervais began writing at the age of five and gained recognition by posting her work on Wattpad in 2011. She graduated from Colorado State University - Pueblo with a degree in English and published her first novel, In 27 Days, in 2017. Alison is still figuring out what else she’d like to do in life, but as for now, she plans to keep rereading Harry Potter, watching Supernatural and Law and Order: SVU, and enjoying life with her husband, their two cats Jane and Smoke, and their German Shepherd, Luna.

Rating: 🌟🌟
My Review: Learning ASL is one item on my bucket list.  I have known the alphabet since I was in 5th grade (a millennia ago) but have never gone further than that.  I still hope to learn to speak to those that are Deaf in years to come.   This book however was one that just didn't work for me.  I have known a ton of people that were either born deaf as well as became deaf from many different reasons and this title just didn't work with some of the choices that this character took.   I understand that Maya is 17 years old. But I feel like her mother wouldn't have left her alone with her brother who has an illness.  At least not without an adult she could turn to if she needed something.  As well as moving across the country.  I really must ask what this doctor was thinking.  Other things are that Maya has only been deaf for a few years. So most of her life has been hearing yet when she gets the chance to get the implant she chooses not to get it.  I just don't understand that.  Especially since she wants to be a doctor.  Having this implant would only help her on that path.  

Overall, to many things in this just felt very unrealistic choices.  

Go Into This One Knowing: Non Realistic Choices 

Gervais deftly renders both the nuanced, everyday realities of life with disability and Maya's fierce pride in her Deafness, delivering a vibrant story that will resonate with Deaf and hearing audiences alike. (Booklist)

This is a great YA contemporary (clean) romance that follows Maya as she navigates a new school and plans for her future. The addition of representation by a Deaf character was really beautifully done. Highly recommend for people looking for a sweet, engaging, and educational romantic read. (YA and Kids Book Central)

Alison Gervais (In 27 Days), herself Hard of Hearing (HoH), portrays Maya as frustrated by setbacks yet exuberant in her pride as a member of the Deaf community. The everyday discrimination Maya faces doesn't weigh her down--'Discrimination? Welcome to my world.' Gervais depicts signed dialogue in the 'choppy English' characteristic of ASL, immersing the reader in Maya's life. The Silence Between Us is a boon to young adult literature, helping to remedy the shortage of Deaf protagonists with the spitfire Maya and her momentous self-confidence. The Silence Between Us is a boon to young adult literature, helping to remedy the shortage of Deaf protagonists with the spitfire Maya and her momentous self-confidence. (Shelf Awareness)

Gervais (In 27 Days) uses her own experiences of hearing loss to lend authenticity to this novel about a teenage deaf girl starting over at a new school. [...] Gervais adroitly pulls readers into her world--conveying ASL through all caps and spelled-out words--as well as her work navigating the deaf and hearing worlds and her awareness of who she is. (Publishers Weekly)

A unique and deftly written novel showcasing a strong deaf character and how she deals with all that her situation entails, 'The Silence Between Us' is a compelling and thoroughly entertaining read from cover to cover. (Midwest Book Review)

A spectacular follow-up to In 27 Days, Gervais has written a beautiful contemporary YA novel featuring a strong female lead who isn't willing to change herself to fit in. A heartwarming own voices story about moving to a new school, making friends, and falling in love. (Kelly Anne Blount, USA TODAY Bestselling Author, Watty Award Winner)

Alison Gervais' The Silence Between Us, not only captures the anxiety most young people feel when they've been uprooted from their community of friends, but in Maya's case, it's exacerbated by the fact she is deaf and newly planted in a hearing school. As nervous as Maya is, her wonderful sense of humor enlivens the story for the reader. Gervais has a perfect grasp of the challenges facing Maya and fleshes them out empathetically. Her portrayal of Maya and the pitfalls she faces, in my opinion, is spot on. More subtle is Maya's natural defensiveness even against those students who attempt to befriend her, throwing up barriers when she suspects pity as their motivation. (Ginny Rorby, author of Hurt Go Happy)

A spirited story about a girl trying to find herself and her place in the world. Gervais' writing is sure to inspire readers to always stand up for who they are. (Christina June, author of It Started with Goodbye, Everywhere You Want to Be, and No Place Like Here)

At its heart, The Silence Between Us is as much about learning to open our minds as it is about learning to open our eyes and ears. (McCall Hoyle, author of The Thing with Feathers and Meet the Sky)

The Silence Between Us is eminently un-put-down-able. (NPR)

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