By Cece Bell
Graphic Novel/Memoir (8-12) • 248 pages
Published by Harry N. Abrams • 2014
My mother has a pretty sever hearing impairment. Growing up I couldn’t tell you how many times I heard her say “what” or how often she would mix up words like house and mouse. I was young and I didn’t understand why I had to repeat everything I said to her. I couldn’t put myself in her shoes, because I could hear. I learned to speak slower, mouth my words a little more dramatically and talk to her face to face. After reading El Deafo, I now have a better understanding of what she went through and I can sympathize with the frustration of never quite knowing what people are saying.
El Deafo is a witty and heartwarming graphic novel about the life of Cece Bell. It tells the story of Cece growing up in the 1970’s. She has to deal with going to a new school, making new friends (and sometimes frenemies!), awkward misread situations, ﬁrst crushes—all while being the only deaf kid in her class.
Through Cece’s story we are given a glimpse into how she dealt with her impairment—from learning to be a detective of words, wearing hearing aids (the one she uses is called The Phonic Ear and it is enormous!), and how she handled the way people treated her. One way she coped was by seeing herself as a superhero—El Deafo.
El Deafo is a very entertaining read with a great message for teaching children about empathy as well promoting awareness for people with disabilities. “Our diﬀerences are our superpowers.”
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Reviewed by: Denise Holmes