Waiting for a Sign ISBN: 9780692286982
Published by Lewis Court Press, 2014
Shelly is almost 15, and her older brother Ian is 18. They have been close when younger, but since Ian has been weekly boarding at the Hawthorne School for the Deaf, things haven't been going well. Ian uses American Sign Language (ASL) and Shelly has become proficient in it too. Their parents are less so, and this can cause problems at weekends when Ian is home. They tend to talk and sign at the same time, and Ian finds this difficult to cope with. He is often very difficult at home. It is clear that he is tense because there is a good possibility that the school will close, and he has found great solace and help in being with other hearing impaired people. Shelly's best friend Lisa has developed a bit of a crush on Ian and has begun to learn ASL too, much to Shelly's bemusement. She feels left out when Ian and Lisa become friends. Lisa, a bubbly, talented girl with high self-esteem has always been Shelly's mainstay, her ever-present help, and even a partial deferment to Ian is painful. It is all the more shocking, therefore, when Lisa is killed by a car, and Shelly must pick up the pieces of her life. The raw emotion is very difficult to read but also very real. This is what it feels like to lose a dear friend. How will she cope? How will she accept the inevitable, and how will her involvement with Ian and his determination to save his beloved school help her come to terms with Lisa's death - and also help her become close to Ian again? This is a strong novel with excellent characterisation. The style is teenage-friendly without becoming too idiomatic, and Ian's explanations of how it feels to be deaf in a hearing society are very real indeed. The author is a clinical social worker who worked for some time in the Massachusetts State Association of the Deaf in Boston, and she clearly understands whereof she speaks. This is a moving and beautifully written story about a family in crisis who comes through it with renewed strength and love. Highly recommended!