by Alison Gervais
the back cover:
Maya could only imagine one thing worse than moving halfway across the country to Colorado right before the start of her senior year in high school: leaving behind Pratt School for the Deaf, where she’s been a student for years, to attend Engelmann, a hearing school.
And then there’s Beau Watson, Engelmann’s student body president and overachiever. Maya suspects that Beau’s got a hidden agenda when he starts learning sign language to converse with her, but she also can’t deny it’s nice to sign again with someone in a school otherwise filled with hearing teacher and classmates.
Deaf and hearing relationships never work, Maya keeps telling herself… yet she can’t help but be drawn to Beau.
But when Maya says she doesn’t want to receive a cochlear implant, and Beau doesn’t understand why she wouldn’t want to hear again, Maya wonders if Beau wants her to be someone she is not.
With her mind the in the world of the Deaf but her heart in the world of the hearing, Maya has to figure out whether bridging that gap is worth it, or if staying true to herself matters more.
When I first learned about The Silence Between Us, I was excited to see a Deaf character in literature, since they are rarely portrayed in books.
The Silence Between Us gives a wonderful snapshot into the life of a Deaf person. We get to see what it is like to have an interpreter at school or have to lipread to understand people. Having some knowledge about sign language and Deaf culture, I easily understood someone of the Deaf-related topics in the book, such as sign names or cochlear implants. But Gervais does a great job of explaining the Deaf-related topics in a concise way so that anyone will be able to read the book and not get confused. Also, since Gervais is hard of hearing herself, she writes in a knowledgeable and understanding way. The way that Gervais wrote conversations in sign language was not awkward or hard to read. I was really curious to see how authors write conversations in sign language.
In terms of the book itself, I loved the relationship between Maya and Connor. Sibling relationships are sometimes my favorite thing about a book, and that is probably true about The Silence Between Us. I do wish, however, that we could have gotten to see more of the relationship between Maya and her mom.
As I said earlier, I loved getting to see a Deaf character as the main character of the book and getting to see what life is like as a Deaf person.
In terms of the plot, it seemed a little confusing to me at times. I couldn’t decide if it was about whether or not Maya was going to get to study to be a respiratory therapist, or if the plot was simply focused on Maya and Beau.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and the glimpse into the life and challenges of Deaf person.
Cautions: three instances of “coarser” language; three kisses