Wednesday, April 6, 2022

The Sign for Home

The Sign for Home by Blair Fell
4/5/22; 416 pages
Atria/Emily Bestler Books

The Sign for Home by Blair Fell is a recommended coming-of-age story.

Arlo Dilly is a DeafBlind 23 year-old man and a Jehovah’s Witness who is under the guardianship of his uncle, Brother Birch. He is taking a college class and looking for an interpreter to assist Molly, his long time interpreter. This is where he meets Cyril Brewster he takes the job. He also alerts Arlo to the many ways that Molly has been making decisions without consulting him. It s also clear that Brother Birch has been controlling his life and keeping him away from Shri, the girl he fell in love with at a boarding school for the deaf.

This is a descriptive, touching, educational, sometimes humorous, and uplifting story. Chapters alternate between the point-of-view of Cyril and Arlo, with Cryril told in the first person and Arlo in the second person singular. The pace is slow in the beginning of this coming-of-age novel, but it does pick up. On the positive side it does educate readers about the different types of sign language, communication devices, the Americans With Disabilities Act, and the many resources available to the DeafBlind community. The descriptive passages are very well done. You will be cheering Arlo on as he makes his way to self-determination, independence, self-fulfillment, and happiness. It needs to be mentioned that Jehovah's Witnesses are an intricate part of the story and they negatively portrayed, which may be objectionable to some readers. People are free to practice their religious beliefs so this unfavorable portrayal made me uncomfortable and will admit that this was almost a did-not-finish. Based on the many positive reviews, I set my misgivings aside, finished it, and the last third of the novel was worth it.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

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