It’s September which means it’s Deaf Awareness Month, so what better topic for this than to recommend some books with Deaf characters for y’all to read? I have read some but not all, but they’re all on my list to read because as a born-deaf folk, I’m always interested in reading books that has a deaf character in. So shall we jump right into it?
Only When It’s Us – Chloe Liese
This book almost flew right under the radar if I didn’t have a thing for reading romance, especially sports romance. It had nothing in the synopsis about the LI having hearing loss, it was from the one or two reviews who stated it but they also wouldn’t say what his illness/disability is as they felt so ‘uncomfortable.’ And at the time I noticed it was on Kindle Unlimited, hence why it’s a current read because I want to erase some people’s reviews/thoughts especially when it lacks the discussion about Deaf rep, and it’s clear that even publishers probably didn’t send arcs to OV reviewers. But alas this is a slow-burn romance, from enemies to lovers which I absolutely love.
BOOKS I HAVE READ;
The Silence Between Us – Alison Gervais
We’ll start of with my most recent read, I picked it up because the synopsis is so close to my real life experience. It’s about Maya who had to move across the country, move from a school for the Deaf, to a Hearing school. It’s all about her learning and finding herself, while also trying to adapt to a world that she feels like she doesn’t belong in. The sign language are all capitalized in the book, the cute boy learns ASL (American Sign Language) to be able to communicate with Maya. It also shows struggles that Deaf people go through daily. There is a warning I want to give to y’all, there is some self identifying in the book from a Deaf girl saying she’s not Deaf because her CI (Cochlear Implant) has fixed it for her, but that doesn’t apply for everyone, there is no cure for Deafness. I have my ‘thoughts while reading this book’ post coming really soon, I just need to finish it off before publishing it. This is also own voices for HoH, as the author is HoH herself.
A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard
This book is about a girl with selective mutism and anxiety & a boy who is profoundly deaf. The sign language used in this is BSL (British Sign Language) and just so you know, it’s a two handed sign language, like 70% of it uses two hands while 30% uses one hand. It’s all about them becoming friends then blossoming into romance, it’s about her journey to start speaking again in situations that are out of her comfort zone, and about her learning about other ways she can communicate. I really loved this book and highly recommend everyone else to pick it up too.
You’re Welcome Universe – Whitney Gardner
This book actually sparked a long blog post (which has been deleted since) of me just adding so many passages/quotes from the book and just having a really long discussion about deaf culture and WHY it’s so important to listen to the Deaf folks, especially to OV reviewers who are Deaf, especially when they’re talking about harmful things, i.e ableism, lack of closed captions, choice of wordings, being excluded. This book was brilliant, even though Whitney isn’t an own voices author, she still did a brilliant job with the deaf culture! The plot also revolves around graffiti art and someone is imitating Julia’s art with their own and it’s about her journey to find out who the person is.
Mooncakes – Wendy Xu & Suzanne Walker
It’s time to break this up with a cute graphic novel, not only does it have a Deaf character, but she’s also Lesbian and a witch! It also has a Non-binary (POC I think) werewolf and they form the most cutest F/Enby romance ever. Also Nova has two grandmothers in a F+F relationship and even how they interact with Tam is the most wholesome thing ever. This book also provides one of the best fall atmosphere ever too!
Soundless – Richelle Mead
This one is different, the book starts off with the entire village being unable to hear anything, so they’re basically Deaf and communicating via sign language. One night Fei wakes up to sound, actual sound. And she goes off on a quest with a miner to find out why they’ve stopped getting food deliveries via a zip-line, or why her people have started losing their vision, so there is some visual impairment rep too. It’s also a very quick read and so enjoyable to read as well.
A Silent Voice – Yoshitoki Oima
I’ve read this one this year and I spent like 90% of the book raging and crying and screaming. It’s a manga, and the mc is Shoya who’s a bully, and the book is all about how he treated Shoko the Deaf girl just for being different. That despite all the cruel things he’s done/said to her, she still treats him with kindness and it really had me tearing up and giving the book to my best friend, who also had the same reaction to me. He’s waiting for me to read the next volumes before he does because he wanted the first-hand opinion from me as he’s not Deaf. But it did bring back memories of when I got bullied in both schools just for being Deaf, and it’s horrible. But I loved the book, it’s one of those types that touches on the raw subjects and brings them forth.
The Tea Dragon Festival – Katie O’Neil
This is the second book in the Tea Dragon Society trilogy but it’s actually before the events of the first book. This one is the only one that features sign language and being taught to the whole village. One of the people living at the village is deaf, we also have M/M romance, a Non-binary/genderfluid mc , and a lovely cast of POC characters. It’s a really adorable trilogy, and the art style is literally so beautiful so I’d add this to your tbr if I was you.
BOOKS ON MY OWN TBR;
Impossible Music – Sean Williams
Music is Simon’s life—which is why he is devastated when a stroke destroys his hearing. He resists attempts to help him adjust to his new state, refusing to be counselled, refusing to learn sign-language, refusing to have anything to do with Deaf culture. Refusing, that is, until he meets G, a tough-as-nails girl dealing with her own newly-experienced deafness.
Wild – Hannah Moskowitz
Our mc Zack is training for a 100 mile race through the mountains of Tennessee and also training to be a parent to his 12 year old sister, ready for when his mother’s early-onset Alzheimer’s progresses too far. He has a support system in his longtime girlfriend Jordan, but they’ve never met in person despite them having spoken for years. Jordan has a secret of her own, she hasn’t told Zack that she’s Deaf and she’s been waiting for the right time to tell him. He obviously either finds out or gets told, and it brings them closer together and Zack throws himself into learning sign language and navigating their way through their different cultures. There has to be a breaking point for Zack and it might be out there in the Tennessee wild.
The Quality of Silence – Rosamund Lupton
This is about a journey for a mother and her ten year old child Ruby across Northern Alaska to search for Ruby’s father who’s gone missing in the arctic wilderness. But it’s too cold and way too dark, Ruby is deaf and can’t hear for noises so she has to brave the darkness with just her sight. She doesn’t want to abandon her father but someone clearly wants to as they’re tracking them in the dark. So this is a thriller book, with some mystery aspects to it, I guess it’s best to read during the spooky months then.
Song For a Whale – Lynne Kelly
12 year old Iris is a tech genius but she’s the only deaf person in her school, so people often treat her like she’s not very smart. If you’ve ever felt like no one was listening to you, then you know how hard that can be. But when she learns about Blue 55, a real whale who is unable to speak to other whales, Iris understands how he must feel. She then has an idea, she wants to invent a way to “sing” to him, but he’s 3,000 miles away so how will she play her song for him? This is also a middle grade novel, not Young Adult.
Tone Deaf – Olivia Rivers
Ali was destined to become one of the greatest musicians of the 21st century, until she got diagnosed with life-changing brain tumour. Now she’s 17 and lives in a silent world, where she has to communicate via ASL and lip-reading. She’s a constant disappointment to her father, and it’s getting harder for her to hide her bruises. But she accidentally wins a backstage tour with the band Tone Deaf, which sweeps her back up into the music world. She ends up travelling cross-country with the band and there seems to be a hint of romance brewing her and the lead singer.
This is Kind of an Epic Love Story – Kacen Callender
If you’re still keeping up with reading books by BIPOC authors, then here’s one by a Black author and it features a Deaf side character. Nathan Bird doesn’t believe in happy endings. Although he’s the ultimate film buff and an aspiring screenwriter, Nate’s seen the demise of too many relationships to believe that happy endings exist in real life.
Playing it safe to avoid a broken heart has been his MO ever since his father died and left his mom to unravel—but this strategy is not without fault. His best-friend-turned-girlfriend-turned-best-friend-again, Florence, is set on making sure Nate finds someone else. And in a twist that is rom-com-worthy, someone does come along: Oliver James Hernández, his childhood best friend. After a painful mix-up when they were little, Nate finally has the chance to tell Ollie the truth about his feelings. But can Nate find the courage to pursue his own happily ever after?
The Silent House – Nell Pattison
If someone was in your house, you’d know . . . Wouldn’t you? But the Hunter family are deaf, and don’t hear a thing when a shocking crime takes place in the middle of the night. Instead, they wake up to their worst nightmare: the murder of their daughter. The police call Paige Northwood to the scene to interpret for the witnesses. They’re in shock, but Paige senses the Hunters are hiding something. One by one, people from Paige’s community start to fall under suspicion. But who would kill a little girl? Was it an intruder? Or was the murderer closer to home? I was sent a copy of the book by the author, and the sequel is releasing this fall too. The Author is also Deaf.
Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer – Rick Riordan
Magnus Chase has seen his share of trouble. Ever since that terrible night two years ago when his mother told him to run, he has lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, staying one step ahead of the police and the truant officers. One day, Magnus learns that someone else is trying to track him down—his uncle Randolph, a man his mother had always warned him about. When Magnus tries to outmaneuver his uncle, he falls right into his clutches. Randolph starts rambling about Norse history and Magnus’s birthright: a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years. The more Randolph talks, the more puzzle pieces fall into place. Stories about the gods of Asgard, wolves, and Doomsday bubble up from Magnus’s memory. But he doesn’t have time to consider it all before a fire giant attacks the city, forcing him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents. . . . Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die. The side character in this series is Deaf.
ON MY GOODREADS TBR
Show Me a Sign – Ann Clare LeZotte
This looks to be a hard hitting book, as it’ll deal with the mc being a ‘live speciment’ for the scientist’s cruel experiment in trying to find how how the island she lives on contributes to the Deafness, since most people on the island are Deaf and communicate via sign language. This is also a very recent release, as it was released at the start of March before the world turned itself upside down. The author has also shared news that she’s writing another two books, but the next book will have a Deaf character, and it’s also OV as the author is also Deaf.
Read My Lips – Teri Brown
Our deaf mc just wants to fly under the radar at her new school, but there’s a problem. She can lipread, like really good even from across a busy cafeteria. Unfortunately she gets caught by the popular girls and they want to use her ability at every chance they can get, even if it means finding out people’s secrets and possibly exploiting them. It’ll be really interesting to read this as growing up I used to get asked all the time to lipread someone else and find out why they’re being secretive with the way they’re talking, and trust me it wasn’t fun.
Whisper – Chrissie Keighery
I’m always trying to figure out what’s really going on. Always having to fill in the gaps, but never getting all the details. It’s like trying to do a jigsaw when I don’t even know what the picture is, and I’m missing one of the vital middle pieces.
This is a quote probably taken from the book and it was in the synopsis, but it’s so accurate. How do you know if your friends are talking about you behind your back or if a boy like you? They could act innocent but you’d know from the rumours, the whispers. But what if you can’t hear them anymore? What if everything you took for granted was gone? Being a teenager is hard enough but being a Deaf teenager?
This has actually put it so high up on my tbr just by the synopsis alone.
Five Flavours of Dumb – Antony John
Piper has one month to get the rock band Dumb a paying gig, if she succeeds she’ll become the band’s manager and get her share of the profits. But how can she manage the band when she’s deaf? She may not be able to hear Dumb’s music, but with her growing self-confidence, a budding romance and a new understanding of the decision her family made to get a Cochlear Implant for her deaf baby sister, she discovers her inner rock star.
Hello, Universe – Erin Entrada Kelly
This is another middle grade book. In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his loud and boisterous family. Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely, and loves everything about nature. Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister Gen is always following her around. And Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just act normal so that he can concentrate on basketball. They aren’t friends — at least not until Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well. This disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find the missing Virgil. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms.
Signs of Attraction – Laura Brown
Do you know what hearing loss sounds like? I do. All my life I’ve tried to be like you, I’ve failed. So I keep it hidden. He showed me just how loud and vibrant silence can be, even when I struggled to understand. He’s unlike anyone I’ve ever known. His soulful eyes and strong hands pulled me in before I knew what was happening. And as I saw those hands sign, felt them sparking on me, I knew: imperfect could be perfect. Reed makes me feel things I’ve never felt. It’s exciting…and terrifying. Because he sees me like no one else has, and I’m afraid of what he’ll find if he looks too closely. The only thing that scares me more than being with him? Letting him go.
I Hear the Sunspot – Yuki Fumino
Because of a hearing disability, Kohei is often misunderstood and has trouble integrating into life on campus, so he learns to keep his distance. That is until he meets the outspoken and cheerful Taichi. He tells Kohei that his hearing loss is not his fault. Taichi’s words cut through Kohei’s usual defense mechanisms and open his heart. More than friends, less than lovers, their relationship changes Kohei forever. This is in manga format.
And there we have our 22 books with Deaf characters in that you can/should read to become more aware of Deaf culture and how to help us. But just remember, Deaf cultures do differentiate in each country, and America isn’t the default for the Deaf culture, broaden your mind to accept that it is different wherever you go and that the default sign language isn’t ASL. Some countries haven’t/won’t accept the sign language as one of their languages (Yeah I’m looking at you India.) Deaf folks in those countries have it really hard and I’m waiting for the day where an author from those countries come forwards and tell their story in a book (own voices of course) so we can see how different it is for them than it is for us. If you ever want to talk about the Deaf culture or about these books with me, then my Twitter is here, where you can send me a DM to talk about it. I hope you have a lovely day and I’ll see you all in my next post