Moving halfway across the country to Colorado right before senior year isn’t Maya’s idea of a good time. Leaving behind Pratt School for the Deaf where she’s been a student for years only to attend a hearing school is even worse. Maya has dreams of breaking into the medical field and is determined to get the grades and a college degree to match, and she’s never considered being Deaf a disability. But her teachers and classmates at Engelmann High don’t seem to share her optimism. And then there’s Beau Watson, Engelmann’s student body president and overachiever. Maya suspects Beau’s got a hidden agenda when he starts learning ASL to converse with her, but she also can’t deny it’s nice to sign with someone amongst all the lip reading she has to do with her hearing teachers and classmates. Maya has always been told that Deaf/hearing relationships never work, and yet she can’t help but be drawn to Beau as they spend more and more time together. But as much Maya and Beau genuinely start to feel for one another, there are unmistakable differences in their worlds. When Maya passes up a chance to receive a cochlear implant, Beau doesn’t understand why Maya wouldn’t want to hear again. Maya is hurt Beau would want her to be anything but who she is—she’s always been proud to be Deaf, something Beau won’t ever be able to understand. Maya has to figure out whether bridging that gap between the Deaf and hearing worlds will be worth it, or if staying true to herself matters more.
The Silence Between UsFeatured
At her new school, she is given an interpreter, Kathleen, and a student guide, Nina. Although life has taught Maya to keep her defenses up, she begins to like Nina and a boy at the school, Beau. The book follows Maya through a year in her life, observing the prejudices and assumptions she faces. These have made Maya face new people with a bit of ferocity, mainly because she frequently has to stand up for herself. As Maya gets to know Nina and Beau better, she opens up and also educates them, and the reader, about her life and the prejudice she faces.
While the romance gets off to a rocky start, I ended up really loving the couple and their path together- it wasn't always perfect, but there was a lot of understanding between them that grew as the book continued. Seeing what Maya faces and the ingrained prejudices of the world was really educational for the (hearing) reader and brings new awareness for the way the world still treats people with 'disabilities.' Through a school project, the reader also hears about some of the history leading to the ADA, but it is also clear how much further we have to go.
I also appreciated the presentation of speech. The reader gets everything through Maya, so ASL is presented in the way it is spoken, and her lip reader gives only a few words of a sentence, leaving her (and the reader) to try to fill in the blanks. This adds to her perspective and helps the reader to really grasp Maya better.
Overall, this is a great YA contemporary (clean) romance that follows Maya as she navigates a new school and plans for her future. The addition of representation by a Deaf character was really beautifully done. Highly recommend for people looking for a sweet, engaging, and educational romantic read.