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Strong Deaf by Lynn McElfresh
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Strong Deaf (edition 2012)

by Lynn McElfresh

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115820,536 (3.6)None
Member:RefPenny
Title:Strong Deaf
Authors:Lynn McElfresh
Info:namelos (2012), Hardcover, 130 pages
Collections:Public library
Rating:****
Tags:children's fiction, deafness, sisters, softball, families, ebook, realistic fiction

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Strong Deaf by Lynn McElfresh

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Showing 5 of 5
I think it is safe to say that for anyone who is familiar with deaf culture, this story is not only relatable but enlightening as well. To learn about a hearing person's experience in an all deaf family is unusual; most of my friends who are deaf have only hearing relatives. It's interesting how being the only different one in your family makes one feel alone and resent their differences...even going as far as to wish you were deaf to feel accepted by those you love.

The dual POV's of Jade and Marla were essential to getting the message of Strong Deaf across to the reader and were written brilliantly. While I enjoyed reading Jade's thoughts, I loved how Ms. McElfresh told Marla's POV in ASL gloss. Having to do skits or demos in ASL on a regular basis, I write my notes on paper using English but in ASL order. So I completely understood Marla and at times, found myself signing her words >.
Strong Deaf is much more than two sisters learning to get along with eachother (I did take Jade's side however and was happy when Marla finally became less bratty and more likeable); it was about learning to be empathetic and overcoming prejudice regardless of whether you are part of the minority or not. To try and understand a person takes effort and determination, requiring that we put them and their feelings ahead of our own. If you can do that, then unity will ensue just as it did for Jade and Marla. A short heartwarming story, Strong Deaf has an important lesson for us all.

Thank you NetGalley for providing a copy for review ^.^ ( )
  CLovestoread | Jan 11, 2014 |
I think it is safe to say that for anyone who is familiar with deaf culture, this story is not only relatable but enlightening as well. To learn about a hearing person's experience in an all deaf family is unusual; most of my friends who are deaf have only hearing relatives. It's interesting how being the only different one in your family makes one feel alone and resent their differences...even going as far as to wish you were deaf to feel accepted by those you love.

The dual POV's of Jade and Marla were essential to getting the message of Strong Deaf across to the reader and were written brilliantly. While I enjoyed reading Jade's thoughts, I loved how Ms. McElfresh told Marla's POV in ASL gloss. Having to do skits or demos in ASL on a regular basis, I write my notes on paper using English but in ASL order. So I completely understood Marla and at times, found myself signing her words >.
Strong Deaf is much more than two sisters learning to get along with eachother (I did take Jade's side however and was happy when Marla finally became less bratty and more likeable); it was about learning to be empathetic and overcoming prejudice regardless of whether you are part of the minority or not. To try and understand a person takes effort and determination, requiring that we put them and their feelings ahead of our own. If you can do that, then unity will ensue just as it did for Jade and Marla. A short heartwarming story, Strong Deaf has an important lesson for us all.

Thank you NetGalley for providing a copy for review ^.^ ( )
  CLovestoread | Jan 11, 2014 |
Note: I received this ARC free in exchange for an honest review.


Early Bird Notes: Okay, so I get that when ASL is directly translated into English (PSE/SEE) it is choppy and "caveman" sounding. When it is signed in ASL, it is not. It is fluid; like any other sentence. It drives me nuts that the author, whose sister is deaf, would continue to push forward a stereotype that signing is equivalent to "dumbed down English". Any language you translate directlywill come across juvenile in the other language but makes sense when in context of the original language. Deaf people [that I know] do not think in these fragmented sentences, they think like everyone else does. To have the story told in ridiculous fragments, by Marla, is just insulting.

37% completed: What I do like about the book, is the interaction Marla (deaf) has with her new softball coach (hearing). It's an all too common situation I've seen, where a hearing person speaks BIIIG EXXXAAGGERRATTED WORRRRRDDSSS to the person who is deaf. Slow and loud, as if that will make them suddenly hear. What I thought was idiotic was that when Marla's friend (hearie, fingerspells entire sentences) says that "Choke up on the bat" is an idiom - Marla reacts as if ASL has NO idioms and that she's completely unfamiliar with them. ASL has idioms and they know what they are. ( You can even see a few here, as an example. OR See video examples here, which are way more fun. ) Not to mention, Marla supposedly has been playing softball for several years; which makes it unlikely that she has never in her life come across any softball lingo.

The book's one redeeming quality was when Marla's friend tells a story about how she went to a hearing school for 8 years and is the only deaf child in her entire family, how alone she felt, how isolated and out of place. Until she went to a deaf school and felt like she was Harry Potter - a wizard in a magical place surrounded by magical people like her. When Marla says her sister isn't REAL family because she isn't deaf and tries to use the story against Jade, calling her a "muggle". The father (deaf) says "Maybe story backward. Maybe Jade wizard, you muggle". As Jade is the only hearing girl in a deaf family. That was profound, a sentence that could open many eyes on both sides of these cultures.

This book was a big disappointment, overall. The characters were highly unlikable - 2 bratty, spoiled sisters who are supposed to be 12 & 14, but who both act far beyond their years in a way that isn't very believable. The sisters are downright mean to each other the entire book, then they have a moment and they're all peachy keen and lovey-dovey. Marla has a deep-seeded resentment for all her hearing family - even her sister who signs 100% fluently - but has no problem with hearing friends who fingerspell entire sentences? Why do they do that, by the way? Many times throughout the book, Marla is referenced as texting incessantly to all her friends, deaf and hearing. So why does she randomly cease to forget her cell phone exists and rely on slow pidgin finger spelling with the twins? I feel like an opportunity was missed here to shed real experience and bridges into an area that is only recently being brought to light again. She had many small references to subplots (Hearing president at Gallaudet and the protests that caused, how hearing people and deaf people interact, cochlear implants, etc) and instead she decided to focus on petty pre-teen angst. The plot was weak, disjointed and just seemed to come together however the author needed it to - with little forethought. ( )
  tealightful | Sep 24, 2013 |
Strong Deaf is a unique experience in many ways. For one, the story is told from alternating perspectives – between Jade and her older sister Marla. As Marla is deaf, her part of the story is told in ASL [American Sign Language] – which can be hard to adjust to when you’re reading it and not seeing it.

Once I got used to the style, I enjoyed it and it really helped me to see things from Marla’s perspective. As a reader with some experience with ASL, I found myself imagining Marla sitting in front of me signing her side of the story. However, readers unfamiliar with ASL may have more difficulty adjusting enough to get into the story.

What also adds to Strong Deaf‘s uniqueness is the fact that – whereas many stories about deaf children involve the deaf child living in a family of hearing – in this story, the hearing sister is actually the minority in her household. It was a nice change getting to see the hearing/deaf ratio essentially reversed, and seeing the deaf culture from a family so strongly involved in it.

As for the content, the synopsis is not really an accurate summary of the book as the majority of the storyline and character development takes place off the softball field. Also, though both siblings had their life lessons to learn, I actually felt that Marla was more immature than her little sister – and downright condescending towards the hearing world, including those in her own family. Of course, as Marla points out, she’s a teenager now, and so the extreme behavior Marla displayed could have been an intentional reflection of her age. Fortunately, the two girls have stable parents and an extended family to help guide the young girls through such an awkward time.

That said, Strong Deaf is a story about young siblings learning how to relate to each other – though from an added extreme than most siblings find themselves – and with that, McElfresh crafted a fantastic story. Though revolving around deaf culture and the differences between the hearing and deaf, anyone with siblings close in age can relate to the story. Who doesn’t remember the petty fights – arguing over chores, personal space, privacy, friendships – with their siblings? Readers can also relate to Jade’s feeling of not knowing how to fit in – even among her own family.

McElfresh’s new book is a great recommendation for children and young adults. It’s a pretty quick read that will hopefully leave the reader with new insights. Strong Deaf conveys a message that is much-needed among young siblings trying to move from rivalry to maturity.

**Original review posted on honestreviewscorner.com.** ( )
  ItEntertainsMe | Feb 20, 2013 |
Jade and Marla are sisters and like many sisters, they don't get on. At all! Marla is home from school for the holidays and she and Jade are instantly at loggerheads. To make things worse their dad has arranged for them to be in the same softball team despite Jade being two years younger than the rest of the team. Jade feels out of place in the team and she also feels out of place at home - she is the only one who isn't deaf.
Written in alternating chapters from Jade and Marla this book paints a realistic picture of two warring siblings. It also gives a good insight into the deaf world and shows deaf people as a normal part of society. Although the reconciliation between Jade and Marla is completely predictable this book is a great read and would be suitable for girls aged 10 and up. ( )
  RefPenny | Jan 25, 2013 |
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namelos

Two editions of this book were published by namelos.

Editions: 1608981274, 1608981266

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