This is my first book review (well, actually it’s more of a recommendation) in over a year! And it comes with a bit of a warning: The Words in my Hands is Young Adult (recommended for 13 to 16-year-olds) and not Middle Grade, like most of the books on my website. It’s also dystopian and I tend to prefer contemporary novels, which pretty much says it all–this book is that good!
Beautifully illustrated and written by a Deaf artist and author from Australia, The Words in my Hands is a visual representation of 16-year-old Piper’s diary. Piper wears hearing aids and has been raised oral by her single mom. They live in a near future version of Australia that’s struggling with food shortages, in part due to Organicore–a company that produces lab generated food. Recon, developed by Piper’s mom, is individualized to meet nutritional needs and contains a formula that’s wiped out the common cold, cancer and obesity.
As if this premise isn’t interesting enough, The Words in my Hands is a coming of age story about Piper realizing there’s an alternative to fitting in with the hearing world. After meeting Marley and his mom, Robbie, Piper’s introduced to the Deaf community and learns sign language. She also discovers “wild food” and how to grow it–a dangerous proposition as the corrupt government tries to maintain reliance on recon, despite distribution issues, and hide evidence that it could cause allergies, asthma and Energy Deficiency Syndrome.
The Words in my Hands is a cautionary tale that also provides hope for the future. It shows how someone who’s deaf or hard of hearing can struggle with headaches, misunderstandings and fatigue despite hearing aids, lip reading and perfect speech. Although my boys have a different hearing level than Piper’s, I related to many of her experiences. I highly recommend The Words in my Hands for those who belong to the Deaf community, those who do not, and those in-between. In other words, everyone.