As one of three hearing daughters of deaf parents, 12-year-old Gussie Davis is expected to be a proper representative of Saint Jude’s Church for the Deaf in Birmingham, Alabama, which is run by her father. So when Gussie starts to hum through signed services in the summer of 1948, Reverend Davis assumes she merely wants to sing out loud and sends her to a regular church downtown. But Gussie’s behavior worsens, and she is not allowed to go on a much-anticipated trip; instead, she must help her father at the Alabama School for the Deaf.
Rebelling against the strict rules of the school, Gussie finally confronts the difficulties and prejudices encountered by the deaf community, all while still trying to find her own identity in the worlds of both the hearing and the deaf.
Drawing on firsthand accounts of her mother’s own childhood with deaf parents, Delia Ray provides an inside look at the South in the 1940s. Lively humor, unforgettable characters, and meticulous research combine to make this a standout novel that offers keen insight into what it means to be hearing in a deaf world. Author’s note.