The Silence Between Us

The Silence Between Us

Moving halfway across the country to Colorado right before senior year isn’t Maya’s idea of a good time. Leaving behind Pratt School for the Deaf where she’s been a student for years only to attend a hearing school is even worse. Maya has dreams of breaking into the medical field and is determined to get the grades and a college degree to match, and she’s never considered...

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Title:The Silence Between Us
Author:Alison Gervais
Rating:

The Silence Between Us Reviews

  • Maggie Carr

    #OwnVoices is quickly becoming my favorite part of YA Lit. Having lost a lot of my own hearing just out of high school, I really related to 'The Silence Between Us' (pub. August 13, 2019). Maya was born hearing, but lost it due to Meningitis; however, she gained her confidence; embracing her deafness. "There was one thing I knew for certain. I was happy being Deaf, and I was not about to change that just because a cochlear implant might make my life easier."[280] I loved that Maya's character, s

    #OwnVoices is quickly becoming my favorite part of YA Lit. Having lost a lot of my own hearing just out of high school, I really related to 'The Silence Between Us' (pub. August 13, 2019). Maya was born hearing, but lost it due to Meningitis; however, she gained her confidence; embracing her deafness. "There was one thing I knew for certain. I was happy being Deaf, and I was not about to change that just because a cochlear implant might make my life easier."[280] I loved that Maya's character, supported by her mother and brother, knows what she wants and can educate and share her beliefs with others as a teen, dealing with a cross country relocation, new school, making friends, and completely starting over. "I've been having a hard time figuring out who I am... Probably I wasn't the only high school student that felt this way, Deaf or hearing."[278] Maya owns what others label as disabled; she is proud to declare "[she] doesn't need to be fixed."[280] I have never read a book the way 'The Silence Between Us' is written. For those who don't know, American Sign Language isn't directly interpreted the way English is spoken. Many words are dropped from conversation, and the signs are often shortened and notated early in a conversation, and then referenced in a shortened way later on. The font changes inside this book read accurately, text indicated in CAPS LOCK showing ASL usage in dialog verses what Maya is thinking in her head or other characters are verbally speaking- amazing! I am completely impressed that Alison Gervais saw the lack of Deaf characters in YA Lit and did something about it. “No matter how hard you try to understand something, sometimes there’s a personal connection to the cause that you’re missing, something you may not ever reach, and that can make all the difference. That’s why this is important to the real world.”[147] Thank you b

    Blink YA Books for sharing an ARC with me in exchange for an honest review. I am cheering this title on to the finish line! 5☆

  • Lisa Mandina

    A great story about a deaf girl who moves and has to now attend a regular, as she calls it, "hearing" school. As a hearing person, there was a lot that hadn't known about, and I always enjoy a book that makes me learn things. It took a bit to read and get used to the way sentences were cut out or cut short based on how she lipread and obviously couldn't always catch every single word sometimes. Or also just the way they signed they didn't use all the words we use as we talk, because that would b

    A great story about a deaf girl who moves and has to now attend a regular, as she calls it, "hearing" school. As a hearing person, there was a lot that hadn't known about, and I always enjoy a book that makes me learn things. It took a bit to read and get used to the way sentences were cut out or cut short based on how she lipread and obviously couldn't always catch every single word sometimes. Or also just the way they signed they didn't use all the words we use as we talk, because that would be a waste of signing time. It was also interesting to read about how a surgery could make a person who was deaf feel about themselves, and that it would make them not want to do it. I feel like there was a lot of good things to learn about and read in this book that was still a really great teen story with all the usual emotional issues along with the extra stress that not being able to hear brings to the story. And of course Maya wasn't the only one with her own issues and that is what was great also, for her to see she wasn't the only one when decisions were made that things were based on. As a teen it is so often usually just based on what you are thinking, what you feel, and it takes a bit to see other people's points of view. And this was a different way to look at it. I will definitely be purchasing this book for my school library for my students to read and enjoy hopefully as much as I did.

  • Kasey Hebert

    I enjoyed this book because I've never read anything like it before! I loved that this story is from the perspective of a female high school student who is deaf and confident with who she is as a person. The discussions characters had regarding cochlear implants were necessary and a delight to read. I loved that the conversations in sign remained in ASL syntax on the page! This novel only dipped its toe into the culture of the Deaf community; there's so much left to explore, and I can't wait for

    I enjoyed this book because I've never read anything like it before! I loved that this story is from the perspective of a female high school student who is deaf and confident with who she is as a person. The discussions characters had regarding cochlear implants were necessary and a delight to read. I loved that the conversations in sign remained in ASL syntax on the page! This novel only dipped its toe into the culture of the Deaf community; there's so much left to explore, and I can't wait for more representative literature. Also, when Beau compared Maya to Jane Eyre - *swoon*.

  • Britt

    I got this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

    You know those stories where you fall in love with everything after just a few pages?

    That, for me, was this book.

    The Silence Between Us was, in a nutshell, some of the best disability representation I’ve *ever* read. I am not deaf, but, as someone with hydrocephalus, right-sided cerebral palsy, and partial blindness, I am always looking for good representation, and this book was It. The Silence Between Us celebrates disability

    I got this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

    You know those stories where you fall in love with everything after just a few pages?

    That, for me, was this book.

    The Silence Between Us was, in a nutshell, some of the best disability representation I’ve *ever* read. I am not deaf, but, as someone with hydrocephalus, right-sided cerebral palsy, and partial blindness, I am always looking for good representation, and this book was It. The Silence Between Us celebrates disability instead of shying away from it.

    The characters in this book were amazing — I don’t think there was a single character that I didn’t like. Maya was a fantastic MC, Beau was adorable, Nina was an awesome friend (I LOVE that Nina and Maya ended up becoming friends because I was anticipating the dreaded “popular girl hates the new girl” cliché). Even the side characters — Connor, Maya’s mother, Maya’s interpreter, and Melissa — were wonderfully written. They all enhanced the plot so well, and I adored every single one of them.

    This book even managed to teach me a little bit about sign language. Not necessarily how to actually sign, but just little tidbits about the language and about deaf culture, and about little things here and there that deaf people might appreciate or be annoyed by. Even though this book doesn’t really use verbal dialogue (other than signing, Maya can only read lips — but she *can* Speak), I think the interaction between characters ran very smoothly and, while I don’t know if this is the common way to express sign language in books, I appreciate the way the author wrote out the sign language in ALL CAPS. That made things really easy to follow, and definitely made up for the lack of verbal dialogue.

    Did I mention that Maya and Beau are absolutely adorable? I adore their chemistry, and Beau is an absolute darling. A lot of “love interests” in YA (and in general tbh) come off as totally douchey, so words cannot describe how much I love the fact that Beau is sweet and genuine. He is such a good character, I love him a lot, and it’s so nice to see able-bodied people accepting people with disabilities, disabilities and all.

    Overall, I ADORED this book. I’m so glad I was approved on NetGalley to review it, and I think it definitely became one of my favorite YA contemporaries. I highly encourage everyone to check this book out, but especially if you love contemporary romances and/or disability rep!

  • Susan's Reviews

    My thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

    Maya Harris is 17 years old and was rendered deaf when a bout of meningitis left her profoundly deaf at the age of 13. Her mother's job relocation forces Maya to leave her special hearing impaired school and move to Colorado, to a regular high school. Maya's young brother is also afflicted with cystic fibrosis and her mother is a single parent, having to cope with two children with chronic h

    My thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

    Maya Harris is 17 years old and was rendered deaf when a bout of meningitis left her profoundly deaf at the age of 13. Her mother's job relocation forces Maya to leave her special hearing impaired school and move to Colorado, to a regular high school. Maya's young brother is also afflicted with cystic fibrosis and her mother is a single parent, having to cope with two children with chronic health situations on her own.

    This is a very well-written book, dealing with serious subject matters: the rights of the hearing impaired and the difficulties they face in a hearing world. I learned so much from this story and was very glad to have been given the opportunity to read it. For the most part, it was a very engrossing and enjoyable read. However, one weakness was characterization:. Maya often came across to me as an angry and hostile teen - she was so mean to poor Beau - a handsome young student at her new school. She raked him over the coals time and again, and he was nothing but kind to her. I have always believed that if you want others to "tolerate" you and your issues or idiosyncrasies, then you need to tolerate others as well. People make mistakes, especially when dealing with unfamiliar situations. I get that Maya was tired of being discriminated against, yelled at (in a well-meaning way) or coddled because of her disability, but she was in a new school, and I think she could have been a bit more forgiving of other's mistakes. When one of her misguided teachers spoke in an extremely loud voice to her on her first day, she should have gently told him something like: "my hearing aids only pick up large crashing or thudding noises. You can yell all you like but I still won't be able to hear you." (Even I have been misled into believe that a hearing impaired person who is wearing a hearing aid might be able to hear my voice. I thought she was being a bit harsh on her unsuspecting teacher in that instance. But I do get it: that type of thing gets old, fast.)

    Maya is understandably upset and nervous in her new environment, and she often felt lonely and ignored, but perhaps her prickly attitude might have been a bit to blame for that? (Just saying!) Poor Beau learned ASL (sign language) in order to communicate with her. At first, she greeted his attempts with disdain and tended to point out all of his mistakes. I have no idea why Beau persevered and eventually won both Maya's friendship and her affections. That was a hard sell for me, but once the romance between Maya and Beau gets off the ground, I started to like Maya a bit more. (Don't get me wrong: I don't mind a fierce or spunky heroine: in fact, I prefer them. What I don't like is someone being unnecessarily mean.) The story did occasionally get bogged down in unnecessary details about homework assignments, etc, but for the most part, this was a very interesting story about a young girl who is forced by circumstance to leave her sheltered hearing-impaired learning environment. She does learn to cope, and even comes to prefer the challenges of her new school..

    The author discloses in the end that she too is hearing impaired, so I am relieved to know that I was getting an authentic (although fictionalized) account of one person's personal experiences. Despite the minor characterization and plotting issues, I would still highly recommend this novel.

  • Marisa

    I’ve been waiting so long for a book like this. Like our protagonist Maya, I was born hearing and have slowly lost bits of my hearing over the years in addition to dealing with Auditory Processing Disorder, both of which require me to wear hearing aids. While Maya is immersed in the Deaf community, I’ve remained a part of the hearing community into which I was born, but I can relate to so many of the experiences Maya has all throughout the novel.

    I’ve seen some people say in their reviews that Ma

    I’ve been waiting so long for a book like this. Like our protagonist Maya, I was born hearing and have slowly lost bits of my hearing over the years in addition to dealing with Auditory Processing Disorder, both of which require me to wear hearing aids. While Maya is immersed in the Deaf community, I’ve remained a part of the hearing community into which I was born, but I can relate to so many of the experiences Maya has all throughout the novel.

    I’ve seen some people say in their reviews that Maya is unlikable and her strong negative stance on CIs being something that was difficult for them to grasp, but it’s curious to note that these are hearing people who are leaving these comments. In my opinion, Maya is an exemplary figure of a late-deafened girl making her way first through the Deaf community and then the hearing world once she and her family move. She’s remarkably realistic, and knowing that the author is hard of hearing and coming from a similar place, it’s somewhat disheartening to see hearing reviewers seemingly miss the point in some places.

    Overall, this is a great novel and one I’ve been waiting for for so, so long. Highly recommend. And if you’re hearing, please go into it with extra kindness and openness toward Maya and where she’s coming from!

  • Joshee Kun (조수아)

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    My dear papa was part of the deaf ministry at church, so whenever I see forthcoming or published books with hard-of-hearing characters, I immediately add them to my TBR shelf. Also, the author was right when she said that the deaf community needs more representation in YA literature. I've already enjoyed many b

    .

    .

    My dear papa was part of the deaf ministry at church, so whenever I see forthcoming or published books with hard-of-hearing characters, I immediately add them to my TBR shelf. Also, the author was right when she said that the deaf community needs more representation in YA literature. I've already enjoyed many books that discuss depression, anxiety disorder, and other mental health issues. However, #OwnVoices novels like this one are still rare.

    is about a deaf girl named Maya. After moving to Colorado, she has a challenging time adjusting to her new life, particularly in her school full of hearing people. Most of Maya's peers are unfamiliar with the deaf community. Some of them are even ableists, treating her with pity and blatant condescension. Consequently, Maya feels ostracized and begins to question her dream of becoming a doctor someday. When Beau, one of the popular boys at Engelmann High, shows an interest in her, Maya suspects that he only wants to earn brownie points. After all, why else would a hearing boy bother to learn ASL?

    For someone who took pride in her condition, Maya could be so sensitive. I liked how she was brave enough to confront those who looked down on her. But sometimes, I thought that she was merely overreacting, especially when it came to Beau. His kindness seemed genuine, so he didn't deserve to be reprimanded or humiliated in public. Looking back, the final conflict in the book could've been easily avoided; it was only a result of Maya's penchant for overanalyzing things.

    Moreover, Maya's expectations of people, including her loved ones, were low to a fault. So when people did nice things for her, she was either surprised or apprehensive. It's all right to be cautious around strangers, but friends or loved ones deserve more trust.

    To be fair, Maya was a loving daughter and sibling. Her little brother, Connor, had cystic fibrosis. Thus, he had to use an oxygen tank in case his lungs became clogged. He also experienced bouts of weakness, which prevented him from maximizing his childhood. Wanting to ease Connor's suffering, Maya resolved to be a CF therapist. And when their finances dwindled, Maya didn't hesitate to look for a job. If anything, her sense of responsibility was remarkable.

    Beau was my favorite character. I guess I was a bit biased because he was a fellow introvert and bookworm. I loved the scene where he left the homecoming party, found an insolated corner, and read a book. If I were in his shoes, I would've done the same thing. Parties are the bane of my existence, and I'd rather have other forms of socialization. I could also relate to Beau's passion for academics. I didn't join any club when I was in high school, but like Beau, I took my grades seriously and hoped to study in a prestigious university. In light of all these similarities, Beau was practically me in a fictional story.

    As a fan of linguistics, I loved how the author constructed the Maya's conversations with both deaf and hearing people. ASL is indeed extensive. However, gleaning from the book, it doesn't require articles, conjunctions, and prepositions. Furthermore, I'm not sure if you can use it to conjugate verbs. So if you want to abide by the rules of grammar, you have to fingerspell the words. I'm usually a grammar Nazi, but thankfully, the caps-lock and hyphenated dialogues didn't trigger me. Haha. On the contrary, I was very intrigued by the "simple complexity" of the language. ASL requires the basic forms of words for efficiency, but the signs can be hard to memorize.

    Ultimately,

    is a profound and diverse novel. I recommend it because it's a story that illustrates the tenacity of the deaf community. Losing one of your senses doesn't mean that you don't have a chance at success and happiness. With the right perspective and support network, "disabled" people can reach their dreams and make a difference in the world.

  • PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps

    ***Thanks to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of THE SILENCE BETWEEN US by Alison Gervais in exchange for my honest review.***

    Maya is less than thrilled to beginning senior year at a hearing school half way across the country. Deaf for four years, leaving her secure previous school, where everyone signed to one where she’ll be the only Deaf student and need an interpreter scares her.

    When Beau, a cute popular guy starts learning sign language, Maya is certain he’s either pitying o

    ***Thanks to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of THE SILENCE BETWEEN US by Alison Gervais in exchange for my honest review.***

    Maya is less than thrilled to beginning senior year at a hearing school half way across the country. Deaf for four years, leaving her secure previous school, where everyone signed to one where she’ll be the only Deaf student and need an interpreter scares her.

    When Beau, a cute popular guy starts learning sign language, Maya is certain he’s either pitying or pranking her, unwilling to consider he may actually like her.

    Maya was a difficult character for me to like. While she had positive qualities like caring about her family and little brother with Cystic Fibrosis, she was mostly self centered and often unkind.

    THE SILENCE BETWEEN US is well written, distinguishing dialogue signed vs spoken. Aside from Maya, most of the other characters were likable.

    I had a hard time buying into a lot of the scenarios in the book. For example, I didn’t believe a mother would move her sick son from New Jersey to the high altitude of Colorado and be surprised his condition worsened. Surely his NJ doctor would have warned the mother to consider her son’s life and death situation, no matter how good the job offer. I also didn’t believe this mother would take a week long business trip and leave her Deaf seventeen-year-old daughter to care for her struggling seven-year-old son with no backup contingency plan. She was a great mother except when in regards to her son’s life threatening illness!?!?!?

    I also didn’t understand Maya’s insistence on not considering a cochlear implant. If she has been deaf all her life, I’d have understood more. She has a passion for becoming a pediatric respiratory therapist. Hearing would only seem to enhance the relationship with patients. After the scare with her brother, where he could have died, I’d think hearing would be a safety issue. Accommodations are great, important and necessary, but they also involve relying on others (in the case of the book) to provide those well-deserved services. I have a disability and sometimes have to rely on others to make my life. When my body won’t do what it’s supposed to do, I’m frustrated and would do anything to change the situation. I understand the Deaf community is rich and full. CIs are controversial and many have strong opinions against them. Maya had only been deaf for 4 years and so the majority of her experiences were hearing. I was glad she was proud to be Deaf and confident, but didn’t understand the safety and accommodations aspects of her choice.

    THE SILENCE BETWEEN US was enjoyable, though sometimes slow, disjointed and repetitive.

  • Sara (Alicorn Feathers)

    I'm almost done with my second semester of ASL, and I love and appreciate the language. So I was very excited to read this book, from the perspective of a deaf high schooler, and I perked up when I realized that the ASL would actually be written as ASL instead of just translated into English like in most the other books I've read with a deaf character.

    But the book left me wanting, in so many ways.

    Without even getting into my problems with how certain aspects of Deaf culture were displayed, the

    I'm almost done with my second semester of ASL, and I love and appreciate the language. So I was very excited to read this book, from the perspective of a deaf high schooler, and I perked up when I realized that the ASL would actually be written as ASL instead of just translated into English like in most the other books I've read with a deaf character.

    But the book left me wanting, in so many ways.

    Without even getting into my problems with how certain aspects of Deaf culture were displayed, the characters were incredibly boring. I really don't know what the author was trying to do with the main character's personality. She was inconsistent. Maybe a stupid example, but Maya said at least 4 times, to the reader, "Why would I ever turn down food?" but we only ever saw her appreciate it one time, and it was cookies and her appreciation was simply her eating a lot of cookies. At one point, she was aghast when students were surprised that she could speak, and she made a HUGE deal about how deaf people are perfectly capable of speaking, but the author never once brought up that some deaf people CANNOT speak, or that they only choose to speak around certain people, or that deaf people who lost their hearing young, or were born deaf, have to go through intensive speech therapy to be able to speak well. It was such an illogical way for her to go about the situation, and, while I don't ask for characters to always make logical choices, I ask that, when it comes to representation of something so few people understand, they do.

    Look at that. I already failed at not getting into my issues with the deaf aspect.

    Sometimes I can get over characters' bland personalities if the romance is good and it brings out different aspects in the characters, but I have to say, this was quite possibly the most poorly written romance I have ever read. There was zero chemistry. ZERO chemistry. I honestly didn't pick up on the fact that the guy was the love interest until a few chapters in, and I was still skeptical. If you've read any number of romances, you know how obvious it usually is (and not in a bad way: if you can't tell, it means there's NO CHEMISTRY) (even platonic relationships have chemistry) but I thought that he was just going to be the nice friend who wanted to learn sign language because who reads past the first paragraph in a book summary. Not me, apparently.

    Way too much of the plot was focused specifically on Maya's struggles being deaf in a mainstream school, and maybe this would have been more interesting or dynamic to me if I had less knowledge on the subject, but I think just the way it was presented seemed whiny and melodramatic rather than helping the reader understand where deaf people are coming from. Again, I could not get on board with Maya's character.

    We also had two very common tropes: the kid whose dad wants them to go to medical school but the kid loves something else, and the kid who has a passion for a certain career, but they don't think they'll be able to get it. These are both still usable tropes, if done correctly, but these were tired situations.

    Before I get into the rest of my problems with the deaf representation, I am just an ASL 2 student. I am well aware that I don't fully understand Deaf culture or any other aspect of being deaf. But our main character didn't understand what it meant, either, and I just couldn't get past the bad depiction.

    It was weird to see Maya saying that she was part of the Deaf community (capital 'D' Deaf) when she had no connection to the community other than her one deaf friend she spoke to on FaceTime. She had just moved to a new town, but there was zero reference to deaf adults or other kids in her life. We also only saw 2 characters who liked being deaf, Maya and her friend.

    Partway through the book, Maya tries to go out and meet deaf kids, but they were actually a group of kids with Cochlear Implants, and none of them used sign. Not a single person at the event had any respect for ASL or deaf people, and it made every person with a CI seem like jerks. And it wasn't like it was just the main character's opinions--it was the way the other characters acted.

    When Maya had lost her hearing, her mother learned ASL along with her, and her younger brother learned a little. So when she went to the aforementioned CI group, she was surprised to find that the mother of one of the deaf kids didn't understand ASL. I understand that this book should not represent every deaf person, but this was coming directly from Maya's head. She was genuinely surprised--

    --that the mom didn't know sign even though that type of situation (the family of a deaf kid not learning sign) is more common than it should be. If she was really part of the Deaf community, she would know this.

    So. In the end, I did appreciate the way the ASL itself was portrayed. But that was pretty much my only positive.

  • Rebecca

    It's about GD time that the universe (and publishing) gave us (meaning: me as a hearing impaired reader) an #ownvoices Deaf kid in a hearing school story. #thankyouverymuch Now to read the ARC that I just got ...

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