Book: Sign Language

Sign LanguageSign Language by Amy Ackley

Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publish Date: August 18, 2011
ISBN: 0670013188
ISBN-13: 9780670013180
Giveaway on Goodreads (Until November 30, 2011)

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Abby North’s first hint that something is really wrong with her dad is how long it’s taking him to recover from what she thought was routine surgery. Soon, the thing she calls “It” has a real name: cancer. Before, her biggest concerns were her annoying brother, the crush unaware of her existence, and her changing feelings for her best friend, Spence, the boy across the street. Now, her mother cries in the shower, her father is exhausted, and nothing is normal anymore. Amy Ackley’s impressive debut is wrenching, heartbreaking, and utterly true.

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I had to push Amy Ackley’s Sign Language to the front of my reviews. This book deserves a lot of buzz and everyone I know should read this. Ackley talks about the sensitive topic of cancer, and in a beautiful way. My experience with cancer was from the patient point of view, so I didn’t fully understand the point of view from a family member or loved one. So, if you have ever experienced this in some way, I suggest to read Sign Language. If you want to read a great and powerfully emotional book, I suggest you read Sign Language.

Abby is twelve years old when she started to notice things about her dad. He had to retire from teaching at a young age because he was sick. When this all started, Abby didn’t worry. She believed her dad could bounce back and be back to his normal self. One day, Abby’s life was turned upside down when she found out that her dad had cancer. Sign Language is heartbreaking coming of age story that consists of BeforeΒ and After.

This was such an emotional read. The level of depth that Ackley brought to this book was surprising. I’ve read other books about death and loss, but nothing that seemed so real. Every detail, every emotion, everything brought me back to my own experiences. That is what’s great about Ackley. She didn’t have to force you to imagine it, she let you lived it.

At first I thought that the beginning was a little slow, but when I finished, I realized it was necessary to start that way. I had to love Abby’s dad just like he was my own dad. I had to live Abby’s life as if it were my own. By the end of the book, I was emotionally invested from A to Z.

Abby is a young girl that had to face some really tough adult problems. When everything happened, she didn’t really have an outlet to let it out. Could I blame her for the way she acted? Absolutely not. I would have done the same thing. She dealt with her dad’s cancer by keeping her emotions internally. She felt like she had to stay strong when others couldn’t. She grew up right before my eyes in a way that no young child should ever have to do so.

Sign Language spoke about a really tough subject. Death in any form is hard to read, let alone write about. Ackley did such a beautiful job approaching the subject in a raw but sensitive way. She addressed things that most young adult books wouldn’t. The words used to describe Abby and her family’s pain was delicate, but raw enough to feel the impact. I’m glad that Ackley used a first-person perspective. Most times, when Abby appeared calm and collected on the outside, she was breaking down inside. It emphasized the emotional toll that cancer took on her family. It was truly effective.

It was emotional, but in a good way. It felt like an emotional bowl of soup, healing my emotions from a really tough time.

A fair warning to those who will read this book. Keep a box of tissue near you. I found myself crying every few pages, from the good times and definitely the bad times.

One thought on “Book: Sign Language

  1. This sounds like such a sad but worthwhile read. It’s a topic that’s outside of my comfort zone, but your review is awfully convincing!

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