A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Joey's mother consistently and determinedly makes bad and wrong-headed decisions which lead to harm for herself, her children, and others. Joey courageously fights for what she believes.
Violence & Scariness
Spousal and child abuse, the latter leading to permanent disability, referred to and briefly described. A facility where scientists perform experiments on chimpanzees is described, the experiments themselves are only referred to.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Joey's mom wonders if an old man is a "pervert." He isn't.
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Products & Purchases
Many brands mentioned, including supermarket, sneaker, soft-drink, sauce, pizza, toothpaste, fast food, and hotel.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink beer and smoke cigarettes and cigars.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that one of the major themes is animal testing and experimentation. Though not graphic, this may be disturbing to some kids. Also, a major character was abused as a young child, leading to deafness.
Is It Any Good?
While the story never comes across as didactic, no one will miss the piercing critique of animal testing, and it's a theme that will resonate strongly with young readers. Equally powerful, though, is the web of issues relating to deaf children and their families, and in Joey young readers will encounter a strongly sympathetic, and courageous heroine. Like many in the deaf community, she recognizes the positive aspects of her situation, and though she is often frustrated and lonely, she is also at times grateful and relieved to embrace her deafness.
There are a lot of important themes here -- deafness, communication, animal rights, parental fallibility, abuse -- and sophomore author Ginny Rorby swirls them together into a powerfully potent brew in which each ingredient enhances the others. Without ever getting graphic or inappropriate, the emotional and at times disturbing result may be too much for more sensitive readers. The rest will find it hard to put down while reading, and harder still to forget afterwards. This is a book that has a lasting impact on the reader, and those in the target age group may want to go further and take action.
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Our Editors Recommend
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