True Biz by Sara Nović
Random House, 2022
Source: ebook borrowed from library
Motivation for reading: MMD book club September selection
Summary (from goodreads):
The students at the River Valley School for the Deaf just want to hook up, pass their history finals, and have politicians, doctors, and their parents stop telling them what to do with their bodies. This revelatory novel plunges readers into the halls of a residential school for the deaf, where they'll meet Charlie, a rebellious transfer student who's never met another deaf person before; Austin, the school's golden boy, whose world is rocked when his baby sister is born hearing; and February, the headmistress, who is fighting to keep her school open and her marriage intact, but might not be able to do both. As a series of crises both personal and political threaten to unravel each of them, Charlie, Austin, and February find their lives inextricable from one another's—and changed forever.
This is a story of sign language and lip-reading, disability and civil rights, isolation and injustice, first love and loss, and, above all, great persistence, daring, and joy. Absorbing and assured, idiosyncratic and relatable, this is an unforgettable journey into the Deaf community and a universal celebration of human connection.
Overall, I liked this book. I was unfamiliar with both Deaf culture and issues faced by the community, and this novel offered a way in. It introduced me to fundamentals of Deaf history, basic principles of signing, and the controversy surrounding sign language and the use of cochlear implants. Interspersed periodically between chapters were short nonfiction "lesson plans" - a creative feature which I enjoyed.
But there were some negatives, too. The novel had more of a didactic and YA (young adult) feel than I was expecting, plus the story dragged in the middle.
The book club's author talk featured the author plus a sign language interpreter with Anne Bogel, and it was so interesting to watch! I never would have chosen this book on my own and appreciate the opportunity to learn about Deaf culture through MMD.