Show Me a Sign is a juvenile fiction book by deaf author and librarian Ann Clare LeZotte. It is inspired by the true history of a deaf community on Martha’s Vineyard in the early 19th century.
Mary Lambert has grown up safe and sheltered on her little island Martha’s Vineyard. Her great-grandfather was one of the first English settlers on the island and the first deaf settler. Now, it is more than a hundred years later and the island is the home of many deaf and hearing people, all of whom sign to communicate.
Mary has never felt a loss or lesser for being deaf, that is, until a young scientist arrives from the mainland, determined to uncover the source of the “rampant” deafness on the island. Still struggling with the recent death of her brother, the rising unrest between the settlers and the Wampanoag people, Mary feels unmoored. And when the unthinkable happens, will Mary perceiver through trial and scorn?
The audio version of this book came up first on my holds and, usually, I am a hard core audio fan. There wasn’t anything wrong with this audio book, but I think this book was made for print. It still get’s 4 stars from me, but I wonder if it might have eked out 5 in print.
That being said, this was a fascinating history to read about and one I was totally unaware of. It was so neat to learn about the history of the island and see how the farmers communicated through sign via spy glass. The author naturally injects sign etiquette and culture into the story, which serves to inform as well as serve the story.
The way the island works together and sees no difference between the hearing and not hearing is really very beautiful. It also serves to highlight the prejudices against the Wampanoag people and makes Mary’s shock at the treatment of deaf people outside of Martha’s Vineyard, even more powerful.
This is a book I would highly recommend for 4-7th graders.
That’s all for now!