August 2023

Give Me a Sign

By Anna Sortino
Review by
A sweet and thoughtful romp, Give Me a Sign deftly navigates the intricate nuances of Deaf culture and how one girl finds her place in it.
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Finding the right words can be a challenge for anyone. Lilah, the deaf protagonist in Give Me a Sign (Putnam, $18.99, 9780593533796), is struggling not only with what to say but also how to say it. A sweet and thoughtful romp, Anna Sortino’s debut novel navigates the intricacies of Deaf culture and how one girl finds her place in it.

Consumed by doubts that she’s not “deaf enough” and irked by her hearing parents who are preoccupied with making sure she can pass as hearing, Lilah minimizes herself and what accommodations she needs. Her friends “forget” she can’t hear as well as them, inadvertently leaving her out of conversations or taking her to inaccessible activities.

At the end of her junior year, all Lilah wants is to feel understood like she did when she was at Camp Gray Wolf, a summer camp for blind, deaf and hard-of-hearing kids. Nervous about her rusty American Sign Language but excited to connect more with her Deaf identity, Lilah applies to become a counselor.

What ensues is a summer in the woods with cute boys, late-night shenanigans and more lessons about herself than she ever could have imagined. With lots of summer-ready fun, Give Me a Sign thoughtfully tackles a myriad of coming-of-age tropes through the lens of deaf characters. Sortino’s writing shines the brightest when the story takes a turn toward the harsh realities and traumas that deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals often endure through misunderstandings with the hearing world. Sortino doesn’t shy away from examining cruelty, but her narrative also remains informative, kind and steady. Give Me a Sign is not only a point of representation for folks looking for themselves in a fun read but also a reminder that just because someone can’t hear or speak doesn’t mean they don’t have a voice.

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Give Me a Sign

Give Me a Sign

By Anna Sortino
ISBN 9780593533796

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