Sign Language, Amy Ackley
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult (12+)
Publication: 8/18/2011, Viking Juvenile
# of Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
Source: Received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis from Goodreads: Twelve-year-old Abby North's first hint that something is really wrong with her dad is how long it's taking him to recover from what she thought was routine surgery. Soon, the thing she calls "It" has a real name: cancer.
Before, her biggest concerns were her annoying brother, the crush unaware of her existence, and her changing feelings for her best friend, Spence, the boy across the street. Now, her mother cries in the shower, her father is exhausted, and nothing is normal anymore. Amy Ackley's impressive debut is wrenching, heartbreaking, and utterly true.
My Review: I'm kicking myself because this book sat on my review list for far too long. I missed out on enjoying this story and knowing these characters for months. Maybe the subject matter sub-consciously deterred me. I recently lost my father to lung cancer and its various complications. I know what it's like to watch someone choke on death. To deteriorate to the point that they are unrecognizable as the person they once were. It's heart breaking. It's painful. And so is Amy Ackley's debut, Sign Language.
I found myself bawling halfway through, unable to control my tears. Ackley writes with such authenticity. I could feel Abby's emotions. Abby's grief was my grief. Abby's inability to accept her father’s death. Her anger at his passing. Her anger at her mother, at the world. Every emotion is detailed beautifully.
To complicate matters further, her changing relationship with her best friend Spence, leaves her confused and terrified. She wants to be with him, but she's not sure her father would have approved. And even if he would have, what if something happens to Spence? What if she somehow lost the one person who could make the pain go away? Abby's not sure she can withstand the heartache.
I have to say that I absolutely adored Spence. He's too sweet for words. He's always there for Abby, providing support, kindness, friendship, basically whatever she needs, unconditionally. And with lines like this: "I wanted to be with you today because, you know, I thought you might need someone. And if you needed someone, I wanted you to need me." How could I not love him?
I tore through this one like it was going to disappear if I quit reading, staying up almost until it was time to get up for work the next day. It's a sad story, and even though I cried (a lot), it was never depressing. It is as uplifting as it is tear jerking. This book hasn't gotten a lot of attention around the blogsphere, but it should. It's a lovely story filled with sadness and truth and hope. I would definitely recommend it to fans of contemporary YA.