Friday, July 21, 2023

Give Me a Sign

I saw Anna Sortino's Give Me a Sign at work the other day and was intrigued. Give Me a Sign is about Lilah, a 17 year old girl who suffers from hearing loss. She feels like she's caught in the middle between hearing and Deaf - too hearing for the Deaf community, but too hard of hearing for the hearing community. With summer approaching, she reaches out to a friend she met a few years previously at Gray Wolf, a camp for kids who are Deaf or blind, to see if she can work as a counselor at the camp for the summer. While there, she is immersed in Deaf culture, ASL, and maybe even finds some time for romance with Isaac, the cute Deaf counselor who is helping her learn ASL.

Give Me a Sign is a really charming young adult book. I liked all of the characters - they were a very diverse and fun bunch. I also liked how everyone grew through the story - characters learned from their mistakes and even in some cases changed their views (like Mackenzie, the hearing YouTuber who hadn't really realized that how she branded herself on the channel was hurting people in the Deaf community).

I really liked how Sortino wrote the dialogue, omitting words that Lilah either couldn't hear (orally) or didn't understand (in ASL), and spelling them out when they were finger spelled for her. 

While the plot line about the camp needing money wasn't great, I did like the interaction Lilah had with the potential donors - it was a great way for Sortino to show the kinds of insensitive comments and questions that people with disabilities (in this case, specifically those who are hard of hearing or Deaf) are asked. I hope that hearing people who read Give Me a Sign will at the very least be more aware of 

I also really liked the message that Sortino had in the book: it is okay to be yourself and ask for or use the accommodations that you need. This was best showcased through Lilah's younger brother, who was told by a doctor that he needed a cochlear implant. Lilah says to him that it is okay if he wants one, but he should be the one to make that decision for himself. I think that is a very important message that everyone needs to hear - no one should feel pressured into doing something just to fit into what the world wants you to be.

I also liked how Give Me a Sign showcases the importance of summer camps for children, especially children with disabilities, are. Having a place where other people are like you, and have similar experiences to you, can be a huge help for people who experience the world in different ways from the majority. It can be a really nice bonding experience, having other people your age who can relate to your experiences!

Overall, I really enjoyed Give Me a Sign, and I am looking forward to whatever Sortino is working on next!!!

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