Culture Gaps

Written by Francisca Goldsmith on Thursday, June 25, 2020

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Week 9’s pair of teen novels provides listeners with different explorations of the power #OwnVoices books hold for everyone. Thanks to Blink and to Brilliance for this week’s free audiobooks.


Author Alison Gervais is herself hard of hearing, so the main character she’s created as a once-hearing girl who has become deaf in The Silence Between Us seems genuine and natural in her capacities for communicating in various ways.  Narrator Chloe Dolandis performs her reading so skillfully that we can note the differences as characters move among spoken language, American Sign Language, and finger spelling—making each distinct from the others even though we, as listeners, are hearing their rhythms and cadences. In addition to coping with a new school, family life with a chronically ill brother, and a potential boyfriend, our heroine here also makes a compelling guide into deaf culture’s conflicting responses to how those who can hear want to “fix” them.  Deafness can be identity and identity is not someone else’s to amend.

Author Matt de la Peña has been featured in previous SYNC seasons so anyone who has been along for our program in the past will have been anticipating Mexican Whiteboy.  Performed by Henry Leyva, this listening experience combines the authenticity available from both narrator and author to a story featuring a culture they share with the protagonist.  This is a story about different places in life we strive to fit in, baseball, the reality of classism, and friendship.

This week’s selections are the sorts of audiobooks listeners will want to revisit again so it’s a good thing that, once moved to your Sora shelf, they remain available to you to do just that as often and whenever you like.

Author photo of Alison Gervais (left) by Rachel Zee, and of Matt de la Peña (right) by Heather Waraksa 

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