diverse december: own voices

I read El Deafo by Cece Bell about a month back now, but I thought it would be a perfect fit for Diverse December’s own voices square.

This is Bell’s graphic memoir (aimed towards children) that discusses her childhood experiences, including how she became deaf, and the deaf kindergarten that she went to. The book really picks up as Cece joins a school where she is the only deaf student. She worries about whether she will fit in, and whether the boy she has a crush on will find her phonic ear (a huge hearing aid) off-putting.

One of the most interesting sections was Cece’s reluctance to learn American Sign Language. I’d never considered the idea that she wouldn’t want to. There’s a great section where she talks about how this would set her apart from the other children even more, and that she gets along with lip-reading just fine. (There’s also a really great section where she gets annoyed with classmates who over-enunciate to make lipreading ‘easier’ for her).

The art style wasn’t exactly to my taste, but it is aimed towards children, so that’s understandable. However, I think that its bright colours and panel layout will appeal to kids who might not be so confident when reading.


I’ve never read a book with a deaf main character before, and I will definitely be rectifying that in 2017. I think this was a great place to start!


21 thoughts on “diverse december: own voices

  1. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

    I also read this book (Shameless plug! http://deathbytsundoku.com/wordpress/el-deafo/), and I really enjoyed it. Just like you, I was shocked when I realized that someone might not want ASL in their lives! I did some research, and I learned that there is a whole subculture in the deaf community of people who feel like ASL doesn’t need to be used. Blows me mind…
    There is so much to learn about deafness– let me know if you find any other books with deaf characters. I would love to learn more about this community, particularly through fiction or memoir. I find that learning about cultures through their own experiences (instead of being talked at like most non-fiction about groups of people) helps me connect. Lovely review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bina says:

    Oh this one looks so good and I absolutely need to read more disability rep! Hate this segregation in schools and only in uni in Gender studies did we have sign lang interpreters for meetings and events. Interesting how the mc here didn’t want to learn ASL.


  3. Grab the Lapels says:

    You know what’s crazy is I have hearing aids and glasses and never once have I written a story that had a character with either tool–and I have three creative writing degrees. I’m an idiot. Or I’m trying to write “perfection” unintentionally, like in my fiction no one ever deteriorates or is born with a disability.


  4. Read Diverse Books says:

    I’m so impressed by how many books you’ve been reviewing this December!! I wish I could be as productive as you 😀
    I read another review for El Deafo recently and it immediately caught my interest because I also haven’t read any books with a deaf MC, to my recollection. Thanks for the recommendation!


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