Monday, December 26, 2011
Hurt Go Happy Review
Book talk: Joey can understand some people with ease. Her mother's words are always clear to her, sometimes it even seems as if they can read each other's minds. Other people, like her step father, she can't really understand at all: it's very hard to lip-read through facial hair. Joey wants to learn sign language to express herself, but her mother refuses to let her. Then one day as Joey is gathering mushrooms she runs into an old man. At first he yells at her for trespassing, but when he realizes that she can't hear his shouts he calms down and introduces her to a new friend. Sukari knows more signs than Joey does and they get along well. Sukari likes raisins and tickles but hates dogs and time-out. Sukari is playful and mischievous and likes being the center of attention. Sukari is also a chimpanzee.
Rocks my socks: As I mentioned in my Half Brother review, I have a special place in my heart for the great apes. I have an interest in American Sign Language as well and even studied it in high school. So, right off the bat I was set to like this book. It didn't disappoint either. I loved watching Joey as she went from her mother's insistence that she stay entirely in the hearing world to becoming part of the Deaf community. Several communication styles are used in the book, but they are clearly differentiated with bold itallics for written notes and all caps for sign language. There were times when I could tell this book and Half Brother drew from similar source, like that they both made a point of talking about how the chimpanzees liked washing dishes, but overall the books are very different with different tones and focuses. The book does show some of human cruelty, especially in the animal testing scene, but Rorby is always careful to remind the reader that the world is mostly full of compassionate people so it doesn't get too dark and it's never cynical. Both books are more about the main characters than the chimpanzees and Hurt Go Happy had more of a focus on sign language and deafness and Deaf culture while Half Brother had more of a focus on the experimental side of teaching a chimpanzee and the effects of and ethical questions around raising one as a human.
Rocks in my socks: The narrative goes along at a pretty fast clip which meant that sometimes a character would disappear just as you got to know them. There's a love interest and I was enjoying watching their relationship blossom when suddenly the narrative jumped and he was written out with a brief passage. They have images of hands forming the signs for the numbers 1-9 at the appropriate chapters which is nice until it got to ten and the pictures showed 'one' and 'zero' instead of just showing the sign for ten. It looked so wrong to me and it drove me crazy.
Every book its reader: Anyone with an interest in ASL, Deaf culture, or chimpanzees (or all three!) will enjoy this novel. People who like stories with the broader theme of an outsider finding her place will enjoy it as well. I'd give it to fifth grade and up.
Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby
Buy it or check it out today!