by Kerry O'Malley Cerra
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Pub Date 06 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 31 Jul 2022
Lerner Publishing Group, Carolrhoda Books ®
Rayne begs her parents to consider other options, but they're not budging. With the surgery looming, Rayne sets off on a bus journey in search of alternatives—and discovers that even though her ears may be broken, she is not.
"Hear Me is a brave and important book. Rayne's story will open hearts and minds, and give young readers courage and hope."—Jarrett Lerner, author of the EngiNerds
"Hear Me is a thoughtful and empowering story about standing up and speaking out even when no one will listen. I'll be thinking about Rayne long after closing the book."—Lynne Kelly, author of Song for a Whale
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 29 members
Hear Me by Kerry O’Malley Cerra
Before I start this review of Hear Me by Kerry O’Malley Cerra I need to waste some of your time talking about why I was reluctant to read it.
I am blind – like most blind people, I have some useable vision, more than some blind people and less than others. The people who make the rules call this “legally blind” but I hate that because it’s a nonsense phrase that makes a lot of us feel like we don’t belong to either the sighted world or the blind one.
I am lucky to be able to read print when I hold it close. I don’t see enough to drive, or read a wall menu, or navigate an unfamiliar place, and I trip a lot and tend to navigate with my feet so you will almost always find me in flexible “barefoot” shoes. My field of useable vision is about the size of a post-it right in the middle of my right eye (the left is blind-blind, shadows without substance) so I turn my head a lot, and people think I’m talking to them when I’m not or to light switches or coffee cups when I am.
Until I was about 13 I thought I was abled. I avoid books like Hear Me because they make me sad and angry, and they make me remember my life between seventh grade and when I was about 30, before I reckoned with what I can and can’t see and whether and why the language and the support systems need fixing.
This book is the kind of book that I wish I’d been able to read at twelve. I’d have been fascinated and amazed, because Rayne gets it. The isolation, the worry, the all of it. Her situation is very different from mine in the 80s but it is so, so relatable.
Rayne is up against an invasive surgery – cochlear implants – that her parents think will be a magic fixit. It won’t let her hear the way she once did, and it’s a surgery that may make things easier for her parents and others to communicate with her, but she questions whether it would make her happier or improve her life.
There are issues here that matter enormously. As a deaf person, Rayne has the right to choose how to proceed; that her parents don’t somehow cotton on to the existence of Deaf communities and culture is disturbing because they have the freaking internet. It’s not the 80s.
Stylistically, this was a really interesting book and it raised a lot of questions about how to communicate what a disability is like to an abled reader. As a sometimes reader of audiobooks, I am curious to know how the style – asterisks filling the place of words Rayne missed in conversations – was handled. For a text reader, it was effective and distracting; it was a great way to represent what listening to others speaking is like for Rayne.
The technology available to Rayne – FaceTime, for instance, so she can have conversations – is something I wish I’d had. Being able to use a smartphone to navigate the world of street signs, wall menus, classrooms where lessons were taught on overhead projectors then chalkboards then whiteboards, room numbers, directories… would have profoundly changed my life as a teenager and young adult.
This quote hit home: “Because it is. Because people assume I’m not smart when I answer the wrong things. Or they think I’m mean because sometimes I don’t answer at all, when I actually just didn’t hear them.” Though for me it was that I couldn’t see what the teacher wrote on the board, or couldn’t tell who people were. And I looked weird: one eye open much wider than the other, one eye wandering doing its own thing, so Rayne’s apprehension about the cochlear implants makes sense, too.
I was so pleased to have read this book – and I recommend it wholeheartedly.
I received an advance copy of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I don't usually read middle-grade, but am familiar with this author and her personal struggles, so was very interested in reading this book. Rayne is a beautiful character. Cerra really nails the issues that hard-of-hearing students experience in a hearing world. I loved how Rayne fought so valiantly against her parents wanting to railroad her into cochlear implants. Music is something very important to Rayne, and she can't imagine never hearing it "properly" again if she has the surgery. Cerra paces this book perfectly with the escalation of Rayne's distress over her dwindling ability to hear and the pressure from her parents to "fix" it. The voice is perfect, the characters interesting, and I would highly recommend this book to anyone, even if you're not a middle-grade reader. It's relatable no matter what your age.
This is the story of 12 year old Rayne, who, in the last year has experienced substantial hearing loss. She struggles to hear her friends, family and teachers. As a result her grades and relationships have begun to suffer. Raven can read lips pretty well and so she is managing. But the decline is rapid. Her parents have conducted a lot of research and consulted with professionals and are adamant that she get Cochlear implants, a kind of permanent hearing aid. THEY feel the implants will help her to not fall behind in school or pull away from her friends more than already is happening. Rayne sees it quite the opposite.
Rayne is adamant that she’s not ready for this radical move. She wants to explore all her other options, especially new scientific breakthroughs in stem cell research. Her parents just won’t listen to her and surgery is scheduled. Taking matters into her own hands, Rayne runs off and tries to prove that stem cells are worth it, but along the way, she discovers something that might be even better, for new life, and her parents. When Rayne is on her own and trying to navigate the transportation system and the city with impaired hearing, I felt quite anxious for her welfare.
This is a story of learning to love oneself and self discovery, because even if those around you truly and unconditionally love you, it can be hard to see yourself in that same positive light. Especially when viewpoints differ.
The writer gives the reader a glimpse into the world of the hearing Impaired by replacing some conversation words with asterisks. These such words are ones with softer sounds as s, sh, th, n and m harder for the hearing impaired to interpret. I found it frustrating but also revealing.
Hear Me is a powerful story about a young girl, Rayne, experiencing hearing loss. Her parents feel that cochlear implants offer her the best opportunity at having a "normal" life, but Rayne is hesitant to jump into surgery. Cerra does an incredible job of showcasing the difficulty in dealing with hearing loss and deciding on what path to pursue. Rayne is really wonderfully portrayed, and she has so much nuance and character which can be difficult to portray in younger characters.
Cerra clearly put so much thought into this book and the way to show Rayne's hearing loss, as is shown in the author's note, and it was so wonderful to see that depth done easily and masterfully. The incorporation of asterisks in dialogue to show what Rayne is missing was so clever, and I really liked how she showed all of the ways hearing loss impacts your life and how limiting it can feel even if others are trying to help you.
It was a wonderful read, and it is such a great option for a book to use in the classroom or for kids struggling with hearing loss or wanting to learn more about it.
I think this is the first book I have read in first person with someone who is deaf or going deaf. I loved this book so much! The author puts your right into the main character’s shoes with missing words in dialogue as she tries to guess at words she has missed. If you ever want to *feel* how hearing friendly the world is designed, read this book.
At first I wasn’t sure how to take Rayne’s internal dialogue about her shame in being deaf in the beginning of the book bc most deaf people I know are very proud of how they saw the world. But I loved how the ending showed her progression toward her own acceptance of her condition and the emotional process behind getting to that point. I loved the progression of her family dynamic, going from insistent that Rayne gets cochlear implants, to understanding her fears about getting them and working with the idea that they needed to all come together to arrive at a decision regarding how to move forward with her hearing loss.
All in all, this book is wonderful for anyone curious about hearing loss and understanding about aspects in the world that are ableist. I also loved the adorable first love plot line and the loyal and supportive friends Rayne has. Thank you so much to NetGalley and the publisher for an arc copy, I enjoyed and appreciated every moment in this book!
A great book to learn about hearing loss.
Rayne struggles to find her place as she battles progressive hearing loss. It's a wonderful coming of age story while also revealing the daily struggles of those with a disability. One of the best parts of the story was the omitted soft sounds, as my daughter is deaf with cochlear implants, and it's a daily struggle for her to hear those sounds, which can be frustrating on her part when she doesn't have all the information that others have. It was hard to read, yet SO illuminating even for someone who knows of the challenge.
As a parent who did make the choice for my daughter to receive cochlear implants when she was only a year old, it was a difficult yet important book for me to read. Of course it had me second guessing myself, feeling guilty, and confronting the past choices I'd made. In the end, I made the choice to give my daughter access to sound, yet I always want my daughter to have the ultimate choice, and if she takes them off one day, I will do whatever I can to adapt my life for her.
This would be wonderful for children with progressive hearing loss, classrooms especially for those that have someone with hearing loss, and families that would like to understand more.
I received a free digital copy of "Hear Me" by Kerry O'Malley Cerra in exchange for an honest review of the book.
Kerry O'Malley Cerra's middle grade novel "Hear Me" follows the challenges faced by Rayne as she comes to terms with her hearing loss. Rayne has high expectations to fill: straight As, and her upcoming re-election as 7th grade student body president. But with her grades slipping and hearing deteriorating, Rayne feels as though it's not only her hearing that's slipping away, but a big piece of her identity. To "fix" her hearing and give Rayne a chance at a "normal" life, her parents sign her up as a candidate for cochlear implants. Rayne is against the surgery and wants to explore other options. Rayne doesn't feel heard by her parents, especially concerning decisions about her own ears. To blow off steam, she surfs off the Florida coast; it's one of the few places she can still make decisions for herself. But Rayne's hearing difficultly also means balance problems, and when she falls off her board and into the waves, she wonders what she would do if she lost surfing too.
"Hear Me" is told from Rayne's point of view. Rayne's dialog is always clear and exact. To convey how much Rayne pieces together on her own, O'Malley Cerra replaces undeciphered words with asterisks. This asks the reader to do some piecing together themselves. From this, the reader can better sympathize with Rayne and feel her frustration, disappointment, and joy. The narrative voice is believable as a 7th grade girl with realistic interests, desires, and impulses too. In the ending author's note, Kerry O'Malley Cerra describes her own journey with hearing loss and how her understandings changed as she wrote Rayne's journey.
I would highly recommend this book to any middle grade reader. I would place the reading difficulty at upper elementary level, but the conflict can be heavy at times. Rayne is a character that I believe many readers would relate to, with or without hearing loss. "Hear Me" is an opportunity for readers to see themselves represented as a main character, or provide a window into someone else's world.
Rayne is quickly losing her hearing. That would be tough for anyone but particularly for a seventh grader navigating through the middle school years. Rayne tells everyone – even herself – that she is fine, but she is lying. She can not come to grips with her lack of hearing. She is tired of her parents trying to fix her without listening to what she wants and decides to take matters into her own hands. O’Malley Cerra has done a great job of capturing the twelve-year-old psyche and her actions and reactions are so believable. Even though her decisions are often not the best, they are typical of those made by the middle grade set when faced with what in their minds is the most important problem or circumstance of their lives. The use of *** in dialogue to show words Rayne misses when someone speaks to her was masterful. Sometimes it was easy to figure out, sometimes not. I could totally empathize with what Rayne went through on a daily basis. As I read, I cringed, I laughed. I cried. But in the end I was so proud of Rayne finally figuring out who she was and realizing that was enough. Thanks to Netgalley and Carolrhoda Books/Lerner Publishing for giving me and advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review. Highly recommended.
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