When Cece Bell told someone on Twitter she had a few extra ARCs of El Deafo looking for a good home, I jumped in and said I had room in my home and heart for El Deafo. I had heard so many rave reviews, and although the book is not slated for release until September 2, I would do anything to get my hands on a copy as soon as I could.
To my delight, Cece had a copy and was willing to send me one (and I wish I could express my thankfulness adequately). Today, it arrived. I am a SLOW reader, but the minute I started this book, I knew I would not be able to do anything else until I was finished. It drew me in and did not let me go until the final page. Wait, I take that back- it still has not let me go. I am still thinking about it.
In this graphic novel, we get a glimpse of what life is like for Cece as a child. She loses her hearing before first grade because of an illness. She can still hear, but needs the help of a device for clarity and understanding. She must also learn to read lips.
Throughout the rest of the book, I was cheering Cece on as she progressed through elementary school. Friends came. Friends went. (The teacher in me wanted to pull some of those “friends” aside and have a little talk). I was very angry when Mike broke her pencil. Fuming when the PE teacher dropped the microphone.
Cece encountered new challenges, but always overcame them. She was a girl who could have had a negative attitude about life, but always strove to go forward.
The ARC’s front cover is full of positive blurbs about the book, and the one that struck me the most was from R.J. Palacio. She said, “….one that made me want to root for Cece Bell the little girl, and find Cece Bell the grown-up to become her instant best friend.”
That’s exactly how I felt. I felt like I knew Cece personally after reading the book. When I was done, I wanted to find her so I could give her a hug. She seems like a person I’d love to sit down over coffee with and talk about life.
I teach first grade, and this isn’t a book for first graders, but I plan to advocate that it gets placed into our school library, and I will recommend it to any upper elementary/middle school student who will listen.
I know there are children out there who will see themselves in this book. Those who are different. Those who have ever lost a good friend to a misunderstanding. Those who have felt like the odd one out. But there are also children who will read this book, and it will be a window for them to see life from another point of view.
This book will be in my heart for a long time. I hope some day I do have the chance to meet Cece. I will give her a hug. I will ask for her autograph. I will ask to take a picture (as is regular protocol for when I meet an author), but then I will want to talk, because she feels like a friend of mine after I read this book.
I hope you have a copy pre-ordered from somewhere. I have a feeling that this book is going to be tagged as a winner among teachers, students, and readers everywhere.
Thank you, Cece, for sharing your story. It touched me.