Thursday, November 20, 2014

Invincible by Cecily Anne Pateron-- Review & Challenge!

In my interview with Cecily Anne Paterson, she explained, “I certainly didn’t set out to write a book about a deaf girl. It all came about because I needed a plot device...” I adored her first book, Invisible. Although a plot point, she offers a dynamic character; in numerous ways, my own inner 13-year-old can relate to Jazmine’s feelings of isolation and how those middle years of adolescence can truly be tough.

In her sequel, Paterson doesn’t need a plot device. Jazmine, a 14-yr-old girl who is deaf and fluent in Auslan, is an established character. When I review books with deaf characters, I highlight aspects connected to the character’s deafness and I notate aspects that I believe are realistic to actual Deaf individuals, not just characters in a book (e.g. does the communication appear real, etc.; and, I notice facets where I believe the author missed her mark. Looking over my notes, I’m noticing more about traditional character development and plot. I have passages that I enjoyed highlighted, which I plan to go back to refer. In fact, I only have one critical remark for Ms. Paterson but I feel I should save that until the end. You know, for suspense. She's been keeping me up late at night reading so I think it’s only fair for me to hold out for a few paragraphs.

In book 2, the days of being friendless and alone seem to be behind Jazmine. She has her best friend Gabby, her boyfriend Liam, and her “mum” whom she’s finally confiding in. But life happens and people change… and all of a sudden Jazmine’s paternal grandmother is in the picture. Book 2 tackles numerous relationships. Because of this, I actually think this book can be recommended to a wider range of readers. 

There is a return to the garden metaphor from book 1. Jazmine’s secret garden is growing and now she has a fellow gardener who is helping her. She’s also discovering that she likes vanilla ice cream no matter what Liam says! (Sorry y’all, while I love that Jazmine is following her own ice-cream-preferred- flavor-heart, I’m a bit on Team Chocolate with Liam… but really this is just an aside and now I want ice cream).

Miss Fraser is away so who in the world will Jazmine be able to confide in? There’s even significance in a boat! I’m not sure how Paterson packed everything in 233 pages. I finished the book within the hour and I’m excited, hopeful, and a bit sad. There are several predictable moments you’ll cheer on Jazmine but there are also some surprises. Dag, Ms. Paterson! Really? But, don’t worry; there is also an ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS section where she answers some of the really tough parts of the book and explains why she does what she does. But don’t read that until after you read the book!

I’m personally taking away quotes from various characters. Where have they been all my life? I’d love to note them here but I’m afraid they’re just too revealing… and I really think you should go out and read this book. She didn’t make me write this (twice). In full disclosure, I bought her first book and she gave book 2 to me as a gift (you can purchase this book as a digital download for $1.50 from Amazon!) I honestly feel this is one of the best books I have seen come across this blog. Ms. Paterson was so gracious that she even offered to be interviewed again. I appreciate that but I prefer to add my critical remark :)

In the ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS, Paterson writes that she never planned to write a sequel but she received letters from fans wanting one. That being said, I’m making a public request for a book 3. I’m sorry but I want to know what happens to 15-yr-old Jazmine. I don’t think we’re done with her story just yet. I’d love to see Gabby, Liam, family members, and even Angela back but more importantly, what’s next for Jazmine?!?

My slightly critical remark is more of an encouraging challenge. Throughout my research on Deaf Characters in Adolescent Literature, again and again I find that readers prefer multiple deaf characters within the story. Not only do I want a book 3 but I want the third book in this series to include at least another deaf character.

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