Bell, CeCe. El Deafo. Amulet Books; New York, NY. 2014. ISBN: 971419710209
El Deafo is about a girl named CeCe, who is hard of hearing. She’s not deaf, but she can’t hear or understand what people say. She needs hearing aids to help her be able to hear and understand others. At first, she really struggles with it. Doing stuff that hearing people do is so much more difficult for her. She doesn’t fit in, and feels like her hearing aids make her a freak. She’s tired of people treating her differently. As she starts to understand more about how to understand herself and others, she starts to accept herself and make friends.
This book was absolutely fantastic! I think I may have a new addiction. I’ve never liked reading graphic novels, comics, or manga because I’ve found it difficult to read and understand. Going into this book, I was unsure whether I’d be able to get through it. I read it in one day. I couldn’t put it down at all!
First, the story. The plot is amazing. You get a story about a girl who is hard of hearing and how her life is with her disability. She wants nothing more than to be treated like everyone else. For people to not see her hearing aids, but see her. This is the wish of every child with any type of disability. As a sister of two siblings with autism, this book really got to me. My favorite parts are the parts where CeCe turns into El Deafo, her alter ego super hero who says what she means, takes no crap, and despite her disadvantage, is a hero to everyone who vanquishes bad. (At least, a hero in HER opinion, which I find interesting.)
Second, the illustrations. As I said, I was never a big fan of any books with pictures in them. I always thought they were for people who didn’t like reading. But these beautifully drawn colorful pictures added so much to the story. It would not have been anywhere near the same story if it was a novel. It had to be a graphic novel. Seeing CeCe and her struggles made it that much more real and gave me so much more empathy for CeCe.
Third, the themes. Of course, the biggest theme here is treating those with disabilities like you would treat anyone else. And that was the biggest takeaway. But other themes include friendship, family, and accepting yourself and others the way they are.
From School Library Journal: “Cece loses her hearing from spinal meningitis, and takes readers through the arduous journey of learning to lip read and decipher the noise of her hearing aid, with the goal of finding a true friend. This warmly and humorously illustrated full-color graphic novel set in the suburban ’70s has all the gripping characters and inflated melodrama of late childhood: a crush on a neighborhood boy, the bossy friend, the too-sensitive-to-her-Deafness friend, and the perfect friend, scared away.”
From Little London Magazine: “A serious subject treated with warmth and humour.”
John Newbery Medal 2015
Eisner Award 2015
Other books by CeCe Bell:
Sock Monkey Goes to Hollywood ASIN:B001I6I0HA
Other Graphic Novels:
Wonder by R. J. Palacio ISBN:0375869026
Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm ISBN:0545741661