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Review: True Biz by Sara Nović

Title: True Biz
Author: Sara Nović
Year published: 2022
Category: Adult nonfiction
Pages: 288 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location: (my 2022 Google Reading map)USA (OH)

SummaryTrue biz (adj./exclamation; American Sign Language): really, seriously, definitely, real-talk

True biz? 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 hearing headmistress, a CODA (child of deaf adult(s)) 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—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.

Review: This is the second book about the Deaf community that I've read in the last couple of weeks. I am glad to see this community being written about and this book did it well.

By setting this novel in a school for the Deaf, the author allowed for people with all sorts of experiences: Children who are deaf with hearing parents who learn to sign, hearing parents who do not learn to sign (and resent signing), parents who are deaf, those who read lips, and those with cochlear implants. Each person has their own experience with the Deaf and hearing communities, enabling the characters to show the reader a variety of experiences and emotions.

I have an aunt who had a cochlear implant put in when she was in her 60s and it has been nothing but trouble. One of the main characters, Charlie, has similar experiences and it was interesting to see how the Deaf community feels about the implants (hint: they are not well received as it seems to deny the Deaf experience and value). I think this book is well done, I cared about the characters, and it was interesting to boot.

Challenges for which this counts:
  • Popsugar--duology (Deaf community)

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