NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • REESE’S BOOK CLUB PICK • A “tender, beautiful and radiantly outraged” (The New York Times Book Review) novel that follows a year of seismic romantic, political, and familial shifts for a teacher and her students at a boarding school for the deaf, from the acclaimed author of Girl at War
“For those who loved the Oscar-winning film CODA, a boarding school for deaf students is the setting for a kaleidoscope of experiences.”—The Washington Post
ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2022—Oprah Daily, The Millions, Lit Hub, Publishers Weekly, BookPage
True biz (adj./exclamation; American Sign Language): really, seriously, definitely, real-talk
True biz? The students at the River Valley School for the Deaf just want to hook up, pass their history finals, and have politicians, doctors, and their parents stop telling them what to do with their bodies. This revelatory novel plunges readers into the halls of a residential school for the deaf, where they’ll meet Charlie, a rebellious transfer student who’s never met another deaf person before; Austin, the school’s golden boy, whose world is rocked when his baby sister is born hearing; and February, the hearing headmistress, a CODA (child of deaf adult(s)) who is fighting to keep her school open and her marriage intact, but might not be able to do both. As a series of crises both personal and political threaten to unravel each of them, Charlie, Austin, and February find their lives inextricable from one another—and changed forever.
This is a story of sign language and lip-reading, disability and civil rights, isolation and injustice, first love and loss, and, above all, great persistence, daring, and joy. Absorbing and assured, idiosyncratic and relatable, this is an unforgettable journey into the Deaf community and a universal celebration of human connection.
Novi (Girl at War) returns with an electrifying narrative set at a present-day boarding school for Deaf high school students, where they find love and friendship and battle a series of injustices. It's centered around the River Valley School for the Deaf and follows three protagonists: headmistress February Waters, a hearing ally of the Deaf community; Austin, the school's popular kid who belongs to a generational Deaf family; and Charlie, the newly admitted transfer student who struggles to fit in because of her inability to use ASL. Instead, her hearing parents forced her to have a cochlear implant. February, determined to make Charlie's language immersion easier, assigns Austin to be Charlie's guide. A romance develops between the two, but Charlie still struggles her learning is disrupted by her mother's refusal to sign and the frequent headaches caused by the implant. Meanwhile, February has a troubled marriage and must fight against bureaucratic forces that are trying to shut down the school. Circumstances worsen when, one morning, Charlie, Austin, and his roommate go missing from the school. With complex characters seething with rage against the injustices they face, and an immersive and novel treatment of Charlie's experience learning ASL, Novi offers an unforgettable homage to resilience. This is brilliant. Agent: Alexandra Christie, Wylie Agency.