TONE DEAF by Olivia Rivers


Age Range: 11 - 14
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An abused, totally deaf teen runs away with a rock band.

There’s just four months until her 18th birthday; can she make it? Ali had been a classical musician, a child prodigy who performed at Carnegie Hall, until the white girl lost both her hearing and her mother in one fell swoop. It's been seven years since her world ended and she came to live with her alcoholic, physically abusive father. All she wants is to escape and go to Gallaudet, where she can actually join a Deaf community and meet others with hearing loss, but her dad is violently opposed. She wins the chance to meet her bestie's biggest crush, Jace Beckett, "total jerk" rocker, and is underwhelmed despite her physical attraction to the attractive, ripped, white 19-year-old. Jace's poor crumpled heart grows three sizes when Ali evokes memories of his own abusive upbringing as the child of mentally ill addicts. Perhaps, though he's "broken," Ali will be able to "fix him." Jace and Ali share the narration in first-person, present-tense chapters. Neither the presentation of deafness nor of abuse is entirely convincing, and the ending is too tidy for belief. Ali's ASL is phenomenal for someone who's only ever signed with hearing tutors and one hearing friend, while her lip reading is near magical.

The plot begs connection to Antony John's richer Five Flavors of Dumb (2010); though Ali and Jace are likable, readers interested in Deafness and rock-’n’-roll are better served by the earlier book. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 3rd, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-63450-707-3
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2016


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