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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
by Chrissie Keighery
Age Range: 12+
Demi is fifteen and struggling to adapt to life at a new school. However, alongside all the usual trials and tribulations involved in starting any new school, Demi has an additional challenge to come to terms with – she has recently found herself profoundly deaf after having contracted Meningitis.
Demi’s pain and bitterness in trying to cope with her sudden loss of hearing are raw and almost tangible. The book follows her as she is wrenched in different directions, in an effort to determine whether she can still fit in with her hearing friends or find a place within the unfamiliar Deaf community. We see her experience anger, loneliness and confusion, as she struggles to find her identity.
What makes this book so fascinating and indeed effective is the way in which it illustrates the whole spectrum of different experiences of deafness. We learn that no experience of deafness is the same, and everyone feels differently about issues such as the ‘right’ choice of school or the ‘best’ method of communication.
Whisper is extremely readable and at no times worthy or contrived. And yet it effortlessly illustrates so much about deafness - the conflicting perspectives, the difficult decisions, the bullying and discrimination, the politics, the oppression. We gain a respect for the power, beauty and intricacy of sign language and we see how little most of us know about deafness and deaf issues.