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To call this affecting debut a tearjerker is an understatement.
Sure, Abby North's dad has terminal cancer, but that doesn't mean he's going to die. Besides, the young teen from Michigan can always consult her Magic 8 Ball, which she sees as her direct line from God, and it can't be wrong. But Abby's dad does pass away before her freshman year in this heartbreaking story that's divided into the summer before and the two years after his death. The quiet yet steadfast third-person narration becomes intense as Abby refuses to eat, can't find the tears that everyone else wipes away and longs for a sign from her father to know he's still a part of her fractured life. While the focus is on Abby, the book also shows how death can affect family members in different ways, from her older brother's dabbles with alcohol to her mother's guilt for wanting to date again. The grieving process and the newly awakened emotions that come with being an early teen continue to ring true when Abby pushes everyone away, especially her childhood best friend, Spence, who may want to be more than friends after all these years.
Will Abby's story of loss and love gain popularity? Signs point to yes.(Fiction. 12 & up)
Posted December 3, 2011
Sign Language is a bit of a cross between a middle grade novel and a young adult novel; it also has nothing to do with sign language itself. The sign language part comes into play because at the start, the main character Abby, a twelve year old with no worries and a loving mother and father, likes to talk to her magic eight ball and ask it for a sign regarding her nonexistent ¿ but very much hopeful ¿ love life.
Abby¿s life quickly goes from being normal, to being the façade of normal. Her father has cancer. No. Her father is dying. She knows it, he knows it, her mother and brother know it, but they all pretend and hope and act, like he¿ll pull through. Abby¿s insistence that no one outside her family ¿ not even her best friend Spence ¿ know, is heartbreaking because it is realistic. Abby doesn¿t want to be that girl whose dad has cancer. She wants normal.
Even if she can¿t have it.
As the story progresses, and Abby¿s father comes closer and closer to death, we get to see her grow and grow up. The story takes place over a span of about 3-4 years, so it truly does start out as a middle grade novel, but moves towards a more young adult field. I still believe it is a good fit for older middle grade readers though, as it handles death and grief and loss with so much honesty and raw emotion.
Death is never easy. And it¿s not easy for Abby to handle. She starts off as a young, naïve, innocent girl, but quickly transforms into a saddened, even bitter teenager. She doesn¿t know how to deal with her grief because she shies away from it, almost ignoring it altogether. Her family falls apart around her and there¿s nothing she can do about it, but deal.
Amy Ackley has expertly handled death and life with Sign Language. It¿s clear that she has experienced such tragedy firsthand; and has infused Abby, her mother, her brother Josh, the sweet boy next door Spence, and every other character with so much life that it is impossible not to feel and grieve and hope and live with them. The grief is real, the loss extreme, but the hope, the life, the love that comes out at the end ¿ it is truly uplifting. Sign Language is heartbreaking in its raw portrayal of a family losing a father and learning how to live in his absence. The subject matter may be a little too mature for some middle grade readers, but I think it¿s suitable for more mature MG readers and has plenty to offer for YA readers as well.
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Posted March 15, 2012
My new fav book! I read in a day and a half and was in awe. I cryed, laughed, and fell in love in this book. One f thebest books I've read lately. I became best frienda with Abby. I can't wait for more of Amy Ackley!
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Posted January 8, 2012
Posted May 19, 2013
Part One: Before and During - Abby is 12 and understands that her father is seriously ill; she even realizes that he has cancer, even though the "C" word hasn't been mentioned in her home. While trying to cope with the change of having Dad retire from teaching and be confined to a bed, Abby's teenage life continues--her unrequited feelings for the popular boy at school, the lovely relationship she has with Spence, her BFF, and the conversations she has with the magic 8 ball.
Part Two: After - Here we see Abby as she struggles to keep her life and emotions on an even keel after the death of her dad. The emotional outbursts, the anger at her mother's possible first date, and the exhileration of being asked to prom by the boy of her dreams combine for two years of heartache for you, the reader. You will feel that anger, the sadness felt by Abby as she watches her older brother cry, and the relief when she seems to be moving forward in the grieving process. As an adult who lost a parent to cancer when I was 14, I found the writing spot-on, with Abby's grieving process seeming to match much of what I remember from my youth. Highly recommended for ages 12 and up.
Posted December 11, 2012
Well written! I recommend this book for adults as well as young adults. It was interesting the way the author progressed from a 13 year old voice to the voice of an older teen. Abby's move through grief to hope was insightful. My friends selected this book for their book club.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 5, 2012
Posted September 22, 2011
Sign Language has nothing to do with the sign language you may be thinking of, trust me I was thinking of ASL when I read the title as well. This book is about a twelve-year-old girl who struggles with finding out her father has cancer. I cried the most during this book than any other book I've ever read. I used to have a book in mind I would mention whenever someone mentioned crying while reading; this book has taken its place. The first-half of the book was gut-wrenching. I put the book down a few times to stop crying and to get my head back in the game. I cried less during the second-half, but I still enjoyed the last section of the book. We get to read about Abby from the ages of 12-15. I talk about this often, but usually I avoid books that have character(s) this young. Something about the description pulled me into wanting to read this; I'm SO happy I did! We get to experience how she feels and how different she is through three years of her life. How someone can change and grow, but in many ways stay the same is shown in this book. Looking back at the book now, I think Abby goes through every stage of grief, so we get to see her emotions go haywire at times. "He spoke to her. Not directly, mind you. Abby didn't hear God's voice; He communicated with her in writing on a three-dimensional pyramid afloat in deep blue liquid inside a black orb. He would answer her questions, but only those requiring a YES, NO, or MAYBE. God spoke to Abby through her Magic Eight Ball." We all remember Magic Eight Balls like the one on the cover, right? Abby isn't a religious person, she only turns to God when something horrible happens and when she wants a sign, but she does speak to God a few times during the book by using her Magic Eight Ball. Her doing this made me smile and laugh a bit, but it also was sad that she turned to an inanimate object to answer questions and to make her feel better. This book has taught me not to assume. I have children of my own and even though they are young, I need to remember that just because I know how something works doesn't mean my children or anyone else around me does for that matter. You need to TALK and discuss with your children even though you yourself may be going through something difficult as well. I wish Abby's mom would have been more vocal to her children in regards to their father. I do understand parents make mistakes and maybe her mom would have done things differently if she could. I couldn't find anything wrong with Sign Language. It's a novel I think everyone should experience. Whether you're young or old, even if you don't particularly enjoy young adult fiction, I think you'll enjoy this one! P.S. I just noticed I wrote this very long review, my reviews are never this long, and I didn't even mention the boy! I will say this, there is a boy that is there for Abby from the beginning and he is the SWEETEST thing ever!
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Posted September 13, 2011
This book is a tearjerker, no doubt about it, but it was never sappy or depressing. I never felt like the author was looking to make readers sob - in fact, she lightens things up at the precise moments that the story starts to feel unbearably sad. What makes it yank at your heartstrings is the realness of it. The story and the characters feel so authentic that you forget that they are fictional, and the book is about ordinary people living ordinary lives, until their lives are turned upside down. And while the situations involving the "C" word are handled with care, the author doesn't sugarcoat things or wrap things up in a tidy little package when the family is ready to "move on", and she doesn't add eccentric characters or quirky dialogue just to make the book different from other books about the death of a parent. The story and the writing stand on their own, and while the book does end hopefully, it embraces the fact that one never "gets over" the death of a loved one. I think Sign Language would be a great book to include in grief counseling.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 20, 2011
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Posted December 10, 2011
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