El Deafo by Cece Bell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
First Published: September 2nd, 2014
Publisher: Amulet Books
Recommended Age: 8+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Memoir, Friendship, School, Deafness
Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.
Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school–in the hallway…in the teacher’s lounge…in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it’s just another way of feeling different… and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?
A very honest and optimistic graphic memoir.
I have wanted to read it for a very long time, especially since we rarely see characters with impairments in these types of books – or in general, really.
When Cece Bell loses her hearing, she is faced with new challenges. For some time all is well, but when her family changes neighbourhoods, Cece has to navigate her new school knowing she won’t be able to blend in due to the Phonic Ear.
But Cece makes different friends along the way. Some friendships are wonderful, others turn to disaster. Some people treat Cece normally, others can’t seem to forget that she’s deaf. When you’re young, family, friendship and school are the center of your universe, and that is what the author focuses on.
I enjoyed this book – the writing, illustrations, themes and Cece herself. She is a loveable kid. Actually, she is too nice and considerate, since she is often unable to say no to the friends she makes, even if the latter are not the right friends for her. Fortunately, she eventually finds her voice.
However, I could not love this book per se, seeing that it’s rather repetitive. We read about her school, family (a little), friendships and everyday activities – but I have to admit her life is not extremely exciting. Her superpower is pretty interesting, as well as what she does with it, but her friendships – especially with the one girl who started avoiding her – left me unmoved.
Still, I’m happy this book exists because I’m sure many kids will be able to connect with Cece Bell.
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