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Don't miss the companion book, Set Me FreeWinner of the 2021 Schneider Family Book Award ∙NPR Best Books of 2020 ∙Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2020 ∙School Library Journal Best Books of 2020 ∙New York...
Don't miss the companion book, Set Me FreeWinner of the 2021 Schneider Family Book Award ∙NPR Best Books of 2020 ∙Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2020 ∙School Library Journal Best Books of 2020 ∙New York...
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  • Don't miss the companion book, Set Me Free

    Winner of the 2021 Schneider Family Book Award ∙NPR Best Books of 2020 ∙Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2020 ∙School Library Journal Best Books of 2020 ∙New York Public Library Best Books of 2020 ∙Chicago Public Library Best Books of 2020 ∙2020 Jane Addams Children's Book Award Finalist ∙2020 New England Independent Booksellers Award Finalist

    Deaf author Ann Clare LeZotte weaves a riveting story inspired by the true history of a thriving deaf community on Martha's Vineyard in the early 19th century. This piercing exploration of ableism, racism, and colonialism will inspire readers to examine core beliefs and question what is considered normal.

    * "A must-read." — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

    "More than just a page-turner. Well researched and spare... sensitive... relevant." — Newbery Medalist, Meg Medina for the New York Times

    "A triumph." — Brian Selznick, creator of Wonderstruck and the Caldecott Award winner, The Invention of Hugo Cabret

    * "Will enthrall readers, but her internal journey...profound." — The Horn Book, starred review

    * "Expertly crafted...exceptionally written." — School Library Journal, starred review

    * "Engrossing." — Publishers Weekly, starred review

    "This book blew me away." — Alex Gino, Stonewall Award-winning author of George

    "Spend time in Mary's world. You'll be better for it." — Erin Entrada Kelly, author of the Newbery Award Winner, Hello, Universe

    Mary Lambert has always felt safe and protected on her beloved island of Martha's Vineyard. Her great-great-grandfather was an early English settler and the first deaf islander. Now, over a hundred years later, many people there — including Mary — are deaf, and nearly everyone can communicate in sign language. Mary has never felt isolated. She is proud of her lineage.

    But recent events have delivered winds of change. Mary's brother died, leaving her family shattered. Tensions over land disputes are mounting between English settlers and the Wampanoag people. And a cunning young scientist has arrived, hoping to discover the origin of the island's prevalent deafness. His maniacal drive to find answers soon renders Mary a "live specimen" in a cruel experiment. Her struggle to save herself is at the core of this penetrating and poignant novel that probes our perceptions of ability and disability.

 

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Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from January 13, 2020
    Set in 1805, LeZotte’s engrossing
    historical novel explores prejudice and racism through the eyes of 11-year-old Mary Lambert, who is deaf. Following her younger brother’s death, Mary lives with her parents in a close-knit Martha’s Vineyard town made up of both English and Wampanoag members. So many of the residents are deaf that the island has its own sign language, used by hearing and deaf people alike; this attracts a young scientist named Andrew Noble, who wants to discover the source of the town’s widespread “infirmity.” Noble’s insensitive treatment of the villagers offends Mary, reminding her of the way white settlers colonized the island, enslaving Wampanoag men, an issue that is far from resolved. After a warmly bucolic opening, the cruel scientist’s desire for a “live specimen” sets up a second act in Boston, where Mary is taken and discovers a harsh reality for deaf people. LeZotte (Here Comes Julie Jack), who is deaf, deftly connects the islanders’ prejudice against the Wampanoag to the mainlanders’ view of deaf individuals as lesser; Mary’s progressive attitudes feel modern while aligning with her character’s sensibilities. Author’s notes discuss Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language, the island, and the history of deaf education. Ages 8–12. Agent: Leslie Zampetti, Dunham Literary.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from November 15, 2019
    A young girl living on Martha's Vineyard in 1805 doesn't think her community of Deaf and hearing signers is special until the day the hearing world violently intrudes. In present-tense narrator Mary Lambert's life, it is easy to forget who is Deaf and who is hearing. Everyone she knows uses sign language, and a quarter of her village is Deaf. Mary only learns how different her community is when a young scientist with disdain for the Deaf and no understanding of their culture arrives, seeking to discover the cause of their "infirmity"--using Mary as an experimental subject. LeZotte weaves threads of adventure, family tragedy, community, racism, and hearing people's negative assumptions about Deaf people into a beautiful and complex whole. Mary overcomes her own ordeal with the support of her community, but in the process she discovers that there is no silver bullet for the problems and prejudices of the world. There is no hollow inspirational content to be found in this tale, even where another author may have fallen into the trap. Though Mary is white of English descent, LeZotte acknowledges the racial tensions among the English, black, Irish, and Wampanoag residents of Martha's Vineyard, creating a dynamic that Mary interacts within but cannot fix. Each element of the narrative comes together to create an all-too-rare thing: an excellent book about a Deaf person. A closing note provides further information on Martha's Vineyard Sign Language and the history of both Martha's Vineyard and Deaf education. A vivid depiction of Deaf community along with an exciting plot and beautiful prose make this a must-read. (Historical fiction. 8-14)

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from March 1, 2020

    Gr 3-7-Free-spirited, inquisitive 11-year-old Mary Lambert loves to spin stories. She's also deaf, as are her father and many others on Martha's Vineyard. No one knows why the island has such a high population of deaf people. Mary's friend Ezra Brewer, the old seaman, says that deafness is in the blood and was brought to the island when the original Lamberts settled there more than 100 years ago, in 1692. Signing is the only language Mary has ever known, and her life is full. But when tragedy strikes her family, she keeps a deep secret from her parents; she knows it is all her fault. Her relationship with her mother becomes strained, and everyone is on edge. Learning that a scientist is coming to the island to study why there are so many deaf residents sparks Mary's curiosity. He charms her mother and many others on the island, but Mary soon discovers his intentions are not honest while falling victim to his deceitful plan. She is taken from her home and becomes his "live specimen" for scientific study. Her struggle to regain control of her life in a world where the deaf are considered "moronic" and her determination to find a way home will take all of her strength, cunning, and courage. LeZotte crafts a moving tale of 1805 Martha's Vineyard that highlights issues still relevant more than 200 years later, including racism, ableism, and prejudice. Colonialism of the Wampanoag land as well as a perception of savagery among the Indigenous people, the preconceptions of the deaf, and a family's attempt at overcoming tragedy while remaining whole are the underlying themes in the novel. But these themes add nuance to the expertly crafted story of Mary, her response to her situations, her courage, and her hope that she will reunite with the community she loves. VERDICT Exceptionally written, faced paced, and full of topics that will inspire deep discussion. A valuable addition to secondary elementary or middle school collections.-Carol Connor, Cincinnati Public Schools

    Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    February 1, 2020
    Grades 4-8 Mary Lambert, 11, narrates this story, set in the early nineteenth century, about Chilmark, a community on Martha's Vineyard. One in four residents are deaf, and everyone speaks Martha's Vineyard Sign Language (MVSL). Into this community comes Andrew Noble, a young Boston scientist who wants to study the Deaf population in order to pinpoint an external cause for the deafness. He is arrogant and condescending, and he manages to offend almost everyone. Dissatisfied with his research, Andrew kidnaps Mary and takes her to Boston as a live specimen. Although subjected to horrible treatment, Mary makes her way home. LeZotte's portrayal of Mary is precise and thoughtful, as the girl absorbs and analyzes everything she experiences. LeZotte's depiction of language is striking?the reader sees the difference in conversations in spoken English and MVSL?and she thoughtfully addresses tensions among the white, Black, and Wampanoag people who share the island. LeZotte, who is Deaf, makes the point that nothing should stand in the way of building community and seeking equality, a sentiment that resonates today. Though, like today, there are still no easy answers.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

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