Last November 2014, I discovered Cecily Anne Paterson’s series about a young Deaf teen. Invisible, the first book in the series, introduces Jazmine Crawford who is being raised by a single mother and who has learned to not complain or share her concerns. Because she has had to change schools frequently, she doesn’t have friends; she knows exactly what it means to be an outsider. Jazmine isn’t exactly alone though. She is surrounded by mean girls. I have to admit that I was torn between being an adult who is sympathetic and hoping things work out for one of the bullies while my inner-teen was secretly hoping for justice! Jazmine does experience a temporary break where she makes some completely amazing friends and finds that she really likes cute boy Liam Costa.
In my interview with Cecily Anne Paterson, she explains, “I certainly didn’t set out to write a book about a deaf girl. It all came about because I needed a plot device…” Although a plot point, she offers a dynamic character; in numerous ways, my own inner teen can relate to Jazmine’s feelings of isolation and how those middle years of adolescence can truly be tough. Jazmine communicates using Australian sign language (Auslan) but she also speaks depending on the situation and her comfort level.
In the sequel, Invincible, the days of being friendless and alone seem to be behind Jazmine. She has her best friend Gabby, a boyfriend, and her “mum” with whom she finally feels comfortable confiding. 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.
Both books include a garden metaphor with Jazmine’s plants growing while she matures emotionally. In book 2, the secret garden now includes a fellow gardener who is helping her.
Her teacher, Miss Fraser, who became her supporter and confidante in book 1 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. There are several predictable moments you’ll cheer on Jazmine but there are also some surprises.
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. 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 made a public request for a book 3 and offered an encouraging challenge. Throughout my research, I find that readers prefer multiple deaf characters within a story. Not only do Ms. Paterson to write a third book but I want it to include at least another deaf character.
How many chances do you get to help an author do research for an upcoming book and how many chances do you get to have a say in the journey of a fictional character?!? Well, here’s your chance! Click on the picture below, or follow the link here to answer a brief survey. She’s even offering to acknowledge your help in her forthcoming novel.
Sharon Pajka is a Professor of English at Gallaudet University. She publishes the Deaf Characters in Adolescent Literature blog (http://pajka.blogspot.com/). Along with teaching first year students, she enjoys teaching Adolescent Literature, and Vampires: Their Historical Significance in Literature, Film, and Pop Culture which made the Washington Post’s list “The 15 Oddest College Courses in the D.C. Region”.