The Words in My Hands
Part coming of age, part call to action, this fast-paced #ownvoices novel about a Deaf teenager is a unique and inspiring exploration of what it means to belong.
Smart, artistic, and independent, sixteen year old Piper is tired of trying to conform. Her mom wants her to be “normal,” to pass as hearing, to get a good job. But in a time of food scarcity, environmental collapse, and political corruption, Piper has other things on her mind—like survival.
Piper has always been told that she needs to compensate for her Deafness in a world made for those who can hear. But when she meets Marley, a new world opens up—one where Deafness is something to celebrate, and where resilience means taking action, building a com-munity, and believing in something better.
Published to rave reviews as Future Girl in Australia (Allen & Unwin, Sept. 2020), this empowering, unforgettable story is told through a visual extravaganza of text, paint, collage, and drawings. Set in an ominously prescient near future, The Words in My Hands is very much a novel for our turbulent times.
Near-future Australia is controlled by Organicore, a company that produces the "perfectly balanced" synthetic meals that have all but replaced wild food. Now prices are spiking, sustenance is scarce, and Piper McBride, 16, Deaf, and cued white, begins to wonder if wild food is as dangerous as Organicore's propaganda says. With Marley, a 19-year-old CODA (child of Deaf adult), Piper finds not only romantic connection but a new world of possibility: Marley and his Deaf mother, also cued white, teach Piper Australian Sign Language Piper grew up oral, lipreading and speaking instead of signing and how to grow her own food. Both skills help Piper gain independence, build new relationships, and envision a more sustainable society. Determined, artistic Piper is a compelling narrator as she grows beyond her hearing mother's constrictive expectations, making clear the marginalization that Deaf members of mostly hearing societies can experience as well as the power of community. Textured by Asphyxia's own full-color paint, collage, and drawing illustrations, this debut offers an original and forceful vision of what the world may come to as well as a vision for building a better future. Ages 13 16.