Charlie has always been hearing impaired, her parents wanted her to be a normal girl and opted for an implant instead of catering for her special needs. As a result, the teenager is excluded from communication and learning as her implant never worked properly. It is only at the River Valley School for the Deaf that she discovers a world that she had been shut out from. She learns to sign and finds friends. Even though the school is a safe haven, this does not mean that people there are without problems and even golden boy Austin whose deaf family is something like a star in their community has to fight with mixed emotions when his baby sister is born hearing.
Sara Novic opens a world which is widely unknown. “True Biz” not only narrates the story of teenagers who – like any other – have their fights with their parents but also struggle with who they are and who they want to be. Being impaired does not make this easier. Along those lines the novel opens the discussion about how to live in a society with high superficial standards when it comes to being considered “normal” and the tricky question about what is best for a child.
Even though I was aware of some of the problems pupils face with limited hearing capacities in average schools, Charlie’s situation of being withhold proper means of communication is repelling. It would be easy to blame her parents, yet, their intentions were good, but good isn’t always the best. The same is true for the complicated case of Austin’s baby sister, decisions have to be made where there is not really a best way to go.
One scene sticks especially with my memory. When the baby is born and Austin asked if she is ok, his father answers that she is perfect. Not too strange a reply, yet, the girl is hearing whereas Austin is not. Does this distinction make him less perfect for his parents, underlining the widespread notion of only the physically not impaired are the ones to be happy about.
Characters that are loveable and sympathetic to follow make it easy to understand their reasoning and view of the world. A lot of information is integrated adding to the book’s enlightening for the reader. A great read in so many respects that I can only highly recommend it.