Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Graphic Novel Review: "El Deafo" by Cece Bell
While not being able to hear certainly presents its difficulties to Cece - not being able to understand the TV or radio, or be able to lip read in the dark, or misunderstanding what someone is saying - much of what Cece is talking about are the side effects that a hearing person might not recognize right away. Like how isolated and lonely Cece feels all the time, or how she feels like it is just easier to be alone that deal with people staring at her or making her feel more different than she already does. Cece combats this with the idea of her secret super hero identity - El Deafo. This identity gives her strength and lends humor to her daydreams - and may end up coming true, at least in part.
I loved that the art and the text in this graphic memoir is simple and cute (the people are bunnies - adorable) but there is that extra layer there for older readers (bunnies have big ears, think about it) which broadens the audience for this immensely. This is really a wonderful book for tweens and teens, especially if curious about one aspect of the deaf experience. There is a fantastic author's note at the end that really explains how wide and varied deaf culture is and why her experience truly only represents one aspect. But I would also give this to readers who might identify in some way as feeling alone or different (ahem.... that could be every single reader in some way). And I would encourage readers to also take the time to read the acknowledgements, especially if they are questioning the ending because there are a couple thank you's in there that are very sweet.
by Cece Bell