SINGING HANDS by Delia Ray

SINGING HANDS

Age Range: 10 - 14

KIRKUS REVIEW

It is 1948 in Birmingham, Ala., and lively Gussie, age 12, explains that her comeuppance for humming during her deaf-minister father’s church services is the start of what turns out to be one of the worst and best times of her life. Her kind parents interpret this funny first misdemeanor to be a sign that she needs more from the hearing world. Not so, but as she maneuvers in the new, unfamiliar semi-snotty church, her confidence diminishes and she can’t stop acting like a clod. Tension builds as her risks at the new church and her high jinks at home come closer to discovery, until her punishment becomes a summer job at the school for the deaf. Ray’s powerful control here creates realistically sympathetic characters, whose anxieties and disappointments are palpable. Once in the deaf school, their world, the teaching philosophy of the time includes segregation of black students. Here, Gussie uses all of her talents, her kindness, humor and playfulness; she learns about others and thinks of them first. Two provisos to Ray’s superb work: Deaf-culture advocates may object to a finale of deaf students signing songs for the amusement of hearing people, and some readers will be annoyed that every loose end is tied up in the happiest of ways. Inspired by Ray’s mother’s own experience. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 15th, 2006
ISBN: 0-618-65762-2
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Clarion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2006




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