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review 2017-07-25 22:58
Book Review of Hope by Jennifer Gibson
Hope - Jennifer Gibson

Jessie has managed to defy the odds, overcoming a severe hearing loss and achieving a Black Belt. She seemed to have it all, a handsome and devoted boyfriend, success as a karate instructor…until now.

 

On the cusp of graduating from high school, a shocking injury changes her life. With her heart shattered and her faith destroyed, she finds herself headed in a new direction all alone. As she leaves for college, she needs to find the courage to conquer her self-doubt and rediscover hope before it’s too late.

 

Review 4*

 

This is the forth book in a series that follows Jessie, a teen with a hearing impediment. I really enjoyed this story!

 

Jessie McIntyre is a character I could relate to easily. She has faced many difficult challenges over the last few of years, what with being bullied at high school, competing at Karate tournaments and earning her black belt, as well as learning to deal with her extra hearing loss after her accident. Now heading towards college, Jessie is finding life even more complicated. Will she overcome the obstacles placed in her way? And can she find out what her destiny has in store?

 

It has been two years since I read and reviewed the third book, Destiny. However, when I heard that this book had been released, I quickly purchased a copy, as I was curious to find out how Jessie was getting on. This story continues on from book three and is told through the eyes of Jessie. I was quickly pulled into the lives of the characters once more and taken on a huge emotional roller coaster ride. It was lovely meeting her again, I missed her.

 

It has been a pleasure watching Jessie's character grow throughout the series. I have also enjoyed watching Jessie and Ethan's relationship grow closer over the series. They have had their ups and downs, as most couples do, but I love the way they interact; you can almost feel their love for each other, it's that palpable. But after a sparring accident causes a rift, Jessie finds herself facing a life altering choice.

 

Jessie is accepted to an art college and this see's her leaving home and spreading her wings a bit. This also introduces us to a new character, Jackson. I am not a fan of love triangles and I was worried that this would be the case in this book. However, I needn't have worried. Jackson is an art college student too, and rents a room in the same house as Jessie. They soon become fast friends. He also happens to be gay.

 

As I said above, this book is a roller coaster ride of emotion and I felt each one that impacted on Jessie. This book is full of love, joy, anger, fear, sadness, loss and, most especially, hope. I found myself in tears on more than one occasion, so I suggest you keep a tissue handy just in case. Jessie finds herself facing many challenging situations and trying new things. I especially enjoyed the fencing and Bo scenes. I am not a sporty person (though I love swimming), but these scenes are written with authority as the author obviously has an interest in these sports and either has extensive experience or knowledge of them as well as Karate. There is also a spiritual feel to the story that I enjoyed. I reached the end of the story with mixed feelings; sad that it ended but happy at the way it concluded.

 

Jennifer Gibson has written an intriguing and interesting YA story based in truth. I found the story a quick read. I love the way the story flows from scene to scene; it's extremely fluid and the descriptions were described in such a way that I could picture them with ease. This is an author I have added to my favourite authors list.

 

I highly recommend this book to young readers aged 12 to 16, and to adults who love reading younger YA romance or coming of age novels. - Lynn Worton

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review 2017-02-05 17:09
SHE TOUCHED THE WORLD: LAURA BRIDGMAN, DEAF-BLIND PIONEER by Sally Hobart Alexander and Robert Alexander
She Touched the World: Laura Bridgman, Deaf-Blind Pioneer - Sally Hobart Alexander,Robert Alexander,Robert Alexander
  Laura Bridgman lost her sight and hearing at the age of 2. She was curious and frustrated lost in herself. Dr. Samuel Howe heard of her and came to see if he could help her. He took her back to the Perkins Institute where he taught her to read and write. He taught her fingerspelling and reading by raised letters. She became the teacher of Anne Sullivan who came to the Perkins Institute before she went on to become Helen Keller's teacher.

I got immersed in this story. I learned a lot. I never knew
Laura Bridgman lost her sight and hearing at the age of 2. She was curious and frustrated lost in herself. Dr. Samuel Howe heard of her and came to see if he could help her. He took her back to the Perkins Institute where he taught her to read and write. He taught her fingerspelling and reading by raised letters. She became the teacher of Anne Sullivan who came to the Perkins Institute before she went on to become Helen Keller's teacher.

The end of the book tells of the advances made from Laura's time in the mid-1800's to today. This is a fascinating read that pulled me in from the first page. It will remain on my keeper shelf.
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review 2016-12-05 13:19
A Silent Voice (manga, vol. 7) by Yoshitoki Oima, translated by Steven LeCroy
A Silent Voice 7 - Yoshitoki Oima

Shoya wakes up and is determined to truly listen to and look at people, even the ones who are cruel or who hate him. He's also determined to apologize to his friends. However, talking to people is harder than he expected, and

he freaks out a little when he sees Tomohiro's movie and accidentally shouts out that it's awesome. The movie is unfortunately not well received by a judge at a public screening, but everyone gets over that. After that, it's time to think of a post-high school future. Shoko wants to go to Tokyo to study to be a hairdresser, but Shoya is scared about her going to a big city. Meanwhile, Shoya decides to be a hairdresser too, in order to eventually take over his mom's business.

(spoiler show)


I definitely have some issues with this series as a whole, but this was a pretty good ending. It was nice seeing Shoya and Shoko's mom bonding over drinks and stories about their husbands leaving them, and I really liked Tomohiro's film, or at least the way the group worked themselves and their experiences into it. It was a silent film so that everyone, including Shoko, could enjoy it on the same level, and it dealt with bullying.

I disliked the way so much of this series came to be more about Shoya than Shoko, but in a way this volume turned that around a bit.

While there was a sense that Shoya had grown internally (even though he briefly took a few steps back when he tried to convince Shoko not to go to Tokyo), he hadn't thought about his future at all, and it showed. Him deciding to become a hairdresser didn't feel like something he really wanted to do, but rather like the only possible future he could think of for himself. On the plus side, he'd gotten to the point where this didn't drag him down or particularly bother him – it was just life, and he'd do the best with it that he could.

Shoko decision to become a hairdresser, on the other hand, had actual history. It turned out that that haircut that Shoya's mom gave her really made an impression on her and made her want to do that too. Which, now that I think about it, makes it even more painful that Shoya's mom couldn't bring herself to speak to Shoko while Shoya was in the hospital. Dang. Anyway, it felt like Shoko was moving forward with her life. If I remember correctly, there was also something about her finding a deaf hairdresser mentor in Tokyo.

(spoiler show)


The volume ended on a high note and felt pretty satisfying, even though, surprisingly, Shoko never did try to tell Shoya “I love you" again. Seriously, why oh why did that confession happen in volume 3?

I haven't been able to decide whether I'd recommend this series to others. On the one hand, I liked that the characters were complex and that there were very few black-and-white situations and relationships. It'd probably make for excellent discussions. On the other hand, so much of it was just horrible, painful, and exhausting, and the focus on Shoya over Shoko and almost complete lack of Shoko's POV makes me wonder about how good the deafness representation was.

 

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-12-05 13:16
A Silent Voice (manga, vol. 6) by Yoshitoki Oima, translated by Steven LeCroy
A Silent Voice 6 - Yoshitoki Oima

Shoya saves Shoko but ends up in the hospital, badly injured and unconscious. This whole volume is about the aftermath of Shoko's suicide attempt: Shoko helping Tomohiro finish his movie in an effort to fix what she feels she broke; Yuzuru upset because the pictures she'd kept taking hadn't stopped Shoko from wanting to die; Naoka remembering how she stood by as Shoya was bullied; and Satoshi realizing his desire to become a teacher was all about his own creepy wish to monitor the kids of his own former bullies.

This series is so dark, and this particular volume is pretty violent. Naoka beats up Shoko because she blames her for Shoya being in the hospital, and Shoko's mom attacks (like actually physically attacks) Naoka for beating up Shoko. I wasn't surprised that people like Naoka and Shoya's mother blamed Shoko for what happened to Shoya, but I hated that they did, because she was hurting too. If Shoko's emotional wounds had been able to manifest as physical wounds, she'd probably have been hospitalized too.

I hadn't realized Yuzuru's morbid photography was more than just a phase. Apparently

Shoko had tried to kill herself before, and Yuzuru's photography was her way of trying to make Shoko want to live, without actually saying so. Which...didn't really work out so well. She comes to the conclusion that she should have talked to Shoko about Shoko's past suicide attempt, and...I don't know. Remember that Yuzuru is actually Shoko's younger sister. I agree that she should maybe have been a bit less vague about telling Shoko that she wanted her to continue living, but at the same time Yuzuru has carried so much on her shoulders for years. I hate the idea of her taking on even more.

(spoiler show)


The bit with Satoshi really, really creeped me out. There was a hint of some of this in, I think, volume 5, in the way Satoshi handled things when he witnessed a younger kid being bullied. He put a stop to it, yes, but the way he did it made me wonder just how scary he'd be once he was in charge of a classroom. This peek into his motives for becoming a teacher wasn't pretty, although thankfully he'd gotten to the point where he'd realized that too. Still, it seems kind of unfair that characters like Shoya, Shoko, and others had to have the most damaged and ugliest sides of themselves put on display for other characters to see, while Satoshi just gets to quietly reconsider his future with no one the wiser.

This volume finally gave readers a few pages from Shoko's POV, sort of. It was basically like getting to see the world the way she sees it, but with none of her thoughts to go with it. Which got me googling whether deaf people think in terms of an “inner voice,” which in turn made me think that Oima really could have done this part better. At some point, I need to see if I can find any reviews of this series written by deaf people.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2016-12-05 12:57
A Silent Voice (manga, vol. 5) by Yoshitoki Oima, translated by Steven LeCroy
A Silent Voice 5 - Yoshitoki Oima

Tomohiro's movie-making plans fall apart when

it's revealed to all that Shoya was once Shoko's bully, and that several others in the group were either involved or did nothing to stop him. Shoya loses nearly all his friends but tries to keep going and stay happy for Shoko's sake. However, Shoko sees this whole thing as being her fault – she believes that nothing good comes of being with her. So, at the end of the volume she decides to commit suicide by jumping out of a window in her home. Shoya catches her just in time.

(spoiler show)


Remember that teacher from volume 1 who was a horrible asshole who should never have been put in charge of kids? Well, Shoya got to see him again in this volume, and he was just as much of a horrible asshole. He basically said that Shoko's very existence guaranteed that there were going to be problems in the class. Never mind that he could have done more to stop it since, you know, he was the adult in the room.

I have no idea how I feel about this volume. Shoya was once again abandoned by just about everyone, and Shoko was totally not kidding about hating herself. Despite her constant sweet smile, she must have been hiding as much self-hatred as Shoya. The main characters in this series are enormous pits of self-hatred, and it's terrible.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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