Emotional read, but well worth it!
I wasn't sure what to expect when I first picked up 'Sign Language'. I thought it might be a bit too emotional for me to read, but Amy Ackley does an amazing job of adding just the right amount of emotion so that the reader doesn't feel like the book is "too" sad.
The book starts out when Abby is 12 and her father is ill. Abby's parents don't tell her the full truth as to why her dad is sick, but the reader can guess early on that he has cancer and it's not a good prognosis. As I watched Abby grow and mature, and sadly watch her father become sicker and sicker, I felt like I knew her life. I've never lost a close loved one to cancer, but I've lost loved ones and I've had to watch them slowly get worse. So, the part of the book where Abby is watching her dad become more sick and eventually pass away was heart wrenching.
Abby has an older brother, Josh, and an older half sister, Deanna. Josh still lives at home and is a typical teenage boy who doesn't really care about anyone else, however we get to see a softer side of Josh as his dad gets more sick. I loved that. Seeing Josh, a teenage boy, taking care of his father and giving of himself was such a wonderful thing to read. After their dad passes away, it was hard to read about how their mom struggles so hard and Josh and Abby are struggling, too. But, with the help of a few family members, mostly the three of them, and Spence, a neighbor and dear friend to Josh and Abby, they are able to come through as a stronger family.
Watching the relationship between Spence and Abby was so much fun. Abby is only 12 when the book starts and Spence is like an older brother to her. He spends lot of time with her and they hang out together, and the reader can immediately tell that he cares for her more than a friend. Watching Abby grow (the book ends when she is 17) and realize her true feelings for Spence throughout the book was satisfying. I absolutely loved their relationship and how they complimented each other so well.
This book is a must read. Absolutely heart breaking, yet heart warming at the same time and focuses so much on not only the loss of a parent, but the struggles of becoming a teenager. I cannot recommend this book enough and I'm looking forward to further books by this author!