Isn’t it just the best feeling when you read a book and go YES. That’s me, right there on the page!? There’s nothing quite as exciting as feeling seen in a novel. It can be because of a character’s ethnicity, or sexuality, or even something small like a character quoting The Office or shipping Quirrelmort like you do (#1 Quirrelmort shipper right here). Seeing a part of you in a book is one of the things I love most about reading, and as a queer cis white woman, I’ve been lucky to see myself represented on the page in a lot of what I read.
REPRESENTATION IS IMPORTANT, Y’ALL. I’m sure as fellow bloggers, I don’t have to tell you that twice. But one of the aspects of representation that I believe we need to see more of in YA is disability representation—and the spreading of awareness for books with disability representation that we already have available to us. So today I just wanted to shine a light on some of the books featuring Deaf characters that I’ve read recently.
Of course I have no place to say whether the representation in these novels is accurate or how well these characters are written, but I do hope that if you’re looking for more books with hearing impaired representation this list helps you out! I really enjoyed all of these, and I’m definitely on the lookout for more books starring Deaf protagonists. Hit me up with all your recommendations!
I’d been looking forward to picking up Impossible Music ever since the cover was revealed—Deaf representation + #LoveOzYA?! Count me in! For Simon, music is everything. That’s when he suffers a stroke that destroys his hearing, he resists trying to adjust to his new life and learn what it means to be a part of the Deaf community. Until he meets G, who’s also dealing with recently becoming Deaf. Can I just say that the grief in this book was done EXCEPTIONALLY WELL. Oh my god, my heart ached for this boy—and that’s why it was so beautiful to see his journey throughout this novel to being empowered and realising he can still make and appreciate music. Plus, the whole novel was written in such a way that made me tear up more than I’d like to admit. It was just stunning.
A Quiet Kind of Thunder is one of the books that has stayed with me, even years after I first read it. Because WOW—this really is an unforgettable read. Steffi is a girl who has social anxiety and selective mutism, and she’s assigned to look after the new boy at school, who’s deaf, because of her knowledge of basic sign language. UGH IT WAS JUST FREAKING INCREDIBLE. Not only is this book about mental illness and the Deaf community, it’s also a really sweet romance and is full of wholesome friendships. I just wanted to squish all of these characters in a massive hug! Seriously, if you haven’t read this gorgeous novel yet, please add it to your TBR!
Holy crap, this book really just stole my heart and gave me all the feels. This is the first book I’ve read by Hannah Moskowitz, but it sure won’t be my last. Zack Ramos is dealing with a lot: he’s having to figure out how to be a parent to his twelve year-old sister, care for his mother who has early-onset Alzheimer’s, and his girlfriend is completely virtual. However when he learns that his girlfriend, Jordan, was waiting for the right time to tell him she’s Deaf, Zack throws himself into learning sign language and navigating Deaf culture. This book was equal parts adorable and emotional, and I just found myself racing through the pages wanting to find out how everything would end up. I just LOVED it.
I absolutely loooooved this book! When Julia is expelled from the Kingston School for the Deaf for covering up a slur about her best friend with graffiti, she’s sent to a “mainstream” school where she’s treated like an outcast for being the only Deaf student. As much as this story is about feeling like you don’t fit in and trying to navigate the new world you’re thrust into, it’s also about art— perhaps even more so. I haven’t read too many books that focus so heavily on creating art and expressing yourself through art, so I really enjoyed learning more about street art and graffiti. Plus, our main character Julia? She doesn’t always make the right decisions and she isn’t always nice, and I am just SO HERE for somewhat “unlikeable” protagonists. She just felt so incredibly real, and that’s one of the things I loved more about this incredible novel.
Have you read any of these books? What are some other YA novels with Deaf protagonists that you’d recommend? I’d love to know!
Thanks to Allen & Unwin for providing me with a copy of Impossible Music in exchange for an honest review.