YA books with characters who are deaf or hard of hearing, or live with family members who are deaf, are few and far between, but they’re out there! These books have all the good stuff: first love, heartbreak, peer pressure, growing pains … but with the added perspective of teens who experience life in a diverse community.
Read My Lips by Teri Brown
Serena will do just about anything to fit in at her new high school, so when some popular girls find out that she is crazy good at reading lips, they befriend her hoping she can snoop out all the good gossip. But how far is Serena willing to go to reach the top of the school food-chain?
Of Sound Mind by Jean Ferris
Theo has grown up as the only hearing member of his deaf family, and from a young age he was tasked with interpreting between his signing parents and the speaking world. As he comes of age, Theo recognizes his growing resentment of his family — especially his demanding and off-balance mom — but when his father has a stroke, the responsibilities of the family land on Theo’s shoulders.
Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
High school senior Piper is hit with the news that her parents have used her college funds to help pay for her little sister’s cochlear implants, so she strikes out to find a way to replenish her money and her self-worth. When the opportunity to become the manager of popular teen rock band, Dumb, is offered to her she grabs it and runs, soon finding out that her role as manager isn’t just about getting gigs for the band, but to referee the members and provide some needed leadership. However, her role as manager comes into question when Piper’s own deafness appears to be a barrier to her potential success in the music industry.
Strong Deaf by Lynn McElfresh
Strong Deaf captures the dichotomous relationship between two sisters who live in the same house but different worlds: Jade, the only hearing member of a deaf family, and her sister Marla, who antagonizes and shuts Jade out for not “fitting in” to the deaf community. These sisters have some serious sibling rivalry going on!
Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby
13-year-old Joey Willis feels isolated as she struggles to communicate with everyone around her. Deaf since she was a young child, Joey never learned sign language because her mother insists that Joey “listens” by reading lips. When Joey’s chance meeting with an elderly neighbor and his signing Chimpanzee, Sukari, leads her to begin learning American Sign Language, Joey is finally able to communicate and experience friendship. When Sukari’s life is threatened, Joey has to find the courage to stand up for Sakuri’s rights, as well as her own.
Stop over at the YALSAblog to read more about serving deaf and hard of hearing teens.
— Dena Little, currently reading The Lost Days (Emily the Strange series) by Rob Reger