AWW2013 – Book 14
Young Adult Contemporary Fiction
Demi was just a regular 14 year old until she got meningitis, leaving her profoundly deaf. This means a totally new life to come to terms with, a new school and friends to adjust to, and working out where she fits in with her old friends and her family, all of whom remain firmly in the ‘hearing’ world.
This is a beautiful snapshot of a story, one which highlights particular moments in a life, while showing you glimpses of what’s happened before and hints at what might happen into the future. Demi is a believable and interesting character, incredibly smart with high ambitions, but not sure what that will mean now that her world has changed so much. While she’s coming to terms with her own problems, she sometimes misses other things going on around her – such as what’s happening with her sister or her old best friend, or how to approach new people in her life, such as Stella in her class.
There’s also a fascinating discussion of what it means to be deaf in modern society. Often, when you are able to hear you can’t even imagine what things would be harder if you couldn’t. I was watching coverage of the floods on the news the other day, and when they interviewed Campbell Newman (who had important information) he was accompanied by a sign language interpreter, allowing the important information to reach everyone in the community. Well, until the TV station decided they would put some file footage on the television, instead of showing the interpreter. Suddenly a section of our community was completely shut out of important information. In Whisper, Demi is aware of some of these restrictions, but has her eyes opened to many more thanks to her new classmate, Stella.
This was a fabulous book, which would be great for middle grade readers and older readers alike. If I was still teaching, I would have definitely bought a copy for my classroom library!