Sometimes what the outside world views as different is the norm for you, yet you can feel like an outsider in your own home. Such is the case for Jade. Jade can hear. Her sister, Marla, can’t. But Marla resents that Jade can hear, not BECAUSE she can hear, but because Marla feels that Jade is less in some ways because she doesn’t understand how strong Marla is when she is surrounded by all deaf people. Marla feels Jade makes the family weak, by not BEING deaf. Both of the girls’ parents are deaf and have been their whole lives, so the outsider in this home is Jade, who is the only person with hearing.
Some sisters have a bond that can’t be broken…stretched, but never broken. In Strong Deaf by Lynn McElfresh, Marla and Jade don’t have much of a bond at all. Jade resents the fact that Marla gets to go to a residential school for deaf children and where she seems to have a fabulous time, while Marla can’t stand how Jade seems to always be annoying her on purpose and constantly refers to Jade as a “baby” even when there are only two years between them. The vast gulf that separates these girls is immense. The parents seem to miss how truly frustrated and mean the two girls can be to each other, and offer guidance in little, and sometimes, useless doses.
I found this book to be fascinating, not only for the tense and turbulent relationship between Jade and Marla, but for the glimpse into the deaf culture, and specifically, into the world of Strong Deaf culture. This was a book I couldn’t put down because I struggled to see where the author would take these two very different girls, and wondered, if they could ever see things from each other’s perspective.
Highly Recommended for students in grades 6 and up.