Sign Language

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Sign Language
Author(s)
Publisher
Age Range
12+
Release Date
August 18, 2011
ISBN
978-0670013180
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Leise gasped.  "Your dad didn't know his cancer was terminal? Oh, my gosh, that has to be so hard....that it happened so unexpectedly, I mean."

"No," Abby said, her eyes following a daddy longlegs crawling along the base of the wall, "we knew the cancer was terminal."

Leise said in silent confusion.

"I knew my dad was going to pass away," Abby tried to explain, knowing Leise would never understand. "I didn't know he was going to be dead."

Editor reviews

2 reviews

Emotional read, but well worth it!
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
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!
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Sign Language
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Thank you to author Amy Ackley for allowing me the opportunity to read and review this book! It took me a little while longer to get through this one for several reasons, the first being the subject matter and knowing it was based on the author's own experience with losing her own father to cancer. The other was having been a witness on the sidelines as my husband and his siblings watched their father fight a losing battle with pancreatic cancer in 2005.

This is a well written, moving story of one young girl's journey through death and grief after losing her father to cancer. While Abbey's story is a heartbreaking one, it is not a hopeless one. "Sign Language" is told from Abby's point of view and follows her life from the ages of 12-17 not only dealing with the slow process of her father's illness and passing but the normal challenges that come with being a teenager.

Ackley does an excellent job of bringing the reader into the heart of the story and describes the gradual dying process so vividly that you feel as if you're experiencing all the raw emotion that Abby is. (We are big Star Wars fans here and needless to say, I will never look at "Darth" the same way again.)

Abby's surrounded by people who love and care for her, like her mother, older siblings, Deanna and Josh, Spence (her longtime BFF), her friend Leise and even grumpy old Aunt Fran. Her family isn't the most demonstrative which makes it difficult for Abby to express how she's feeling, causing her to bottle things up inside. She regularly consults her Magic 8 Ball for signs or answers (who hasn't, right?) but still can't seem to find what she's searching for. School is her haven and the one place she feels she can still maintain a sense of normalcy. The only friends that know about her Dad and how serious he is are Spence and Leise and neither of them will betray her.

Her mom does the best she can but is dealing with her own feelings and Josh is the typical older brother who acts annoyed that Abby even exists most of the time but he has his moments. Deanna is Abby's older sister who is called into town occasionally to stay with she and Josh and while she's preferred over Aunt Fran, she's hardly the epitome of responsibility.

Spence is the most consistent friend in Abby's life and is like a second brother to her. He likes being around her family because his own home life isn't so great. Abby's father, Sam has even stepped in for Spence's absentee father over the years. Spence is kind, loyal and hard working and readily helps Abby's Mom and brother Josh around the house when it's apparent that her Dad no longer can. (Did I mention that we love him?!) He's the type of guy who likes to "fix things" and would do just about anything to be able to fix what's going on in Abby's life. By the time high school rolls around he and Abby have grown even closer and it's obvious to everyone that his feelings for her go beyond friendship even if Abby is somewhat oblivious.

Leise remains a good friend to Abby, even at the height of her grief when she seems bent on pushing everyone who cares about her away. She's a great example of what it means to be a true friend and we should all be lucky to have someone like her in our lives.

A good portion of the book is spent on the relationship Abby has with her Dad, one that was full happy times spent together creating good memories. She struggles with the realization that he won't be there for some the major milestones in her life and it's those times that your heart breaks for her all over again. Abby's journey has really only just begun at the end of the book but her perspective is different.

"Sign Language" is a must read in my opinion, especially for anyone whose lost a loved one to cancer. This story shows that while losing a loved one is painful and life goes on, that person lives on in our memories, in our hearts and there are signs everywhere to remind us of them.
Good Points
Knowing the story is based on author Ackley's own experience gives authenticity to the characters and the storyline.
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