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DEER RUN HOME

Page history last edited by RichiesPicks 2 weeks ago

30 June 2024 DEER RUN HOME by Ann Clare LeZotte, Scholastic Press, October 2024, 224p., ISBN: 978-1-339-02190-4

 

“Today, 90 percent of deaf babies are born to hearing parents, but three out of four of those parents don’t use sign language at home.”

– from  the Author’s Note

 

“If language were liquid

It would be rushing in

Instead here we are

In a silence more eloquent

Than any word could ever be”

– Suzanne Vega, “Language” (1987)

 

“She writes, How do

they know you, their daughter?

I tell her I’m good at reading faces.

But they can’t read you, she writes.

I think about that.

What if, she asks,

you need their help?

 

Effie Pappas is an abused, neglected, language-deprived tween. A deer in the headlights, not knowing which way to turn. Her parents' notions of communicating with her have involved stomping on the floor, pointing forcefully, and dragging her across the room to do whatever they want done. No one in the family has made an effort to learn her (sign) language. Nobody has even explained the physical changes she has been undergoing as she’s transitioned into adolescence. As her story unfolds, it is not surprising to learn that Effie has experienced some pretty hellacious nightmares.

 

My name is Effie

 

I am twelve years old.

I live with my sister, Deja,

and our father.

 

When we had

to do school from 

home, and wait

in lines with masks

to get into

the grocery store,

we lived with our mom

and stepfather, Nick.

 

Even though no one

in my family ever learned 

my first language,

American Sign Language

or ASL, it was fine,

just fine, for a while.”

 

Apparently tired of dealing with Effie, Mom has sent the two sisters to live with Dad, who is an abusive, neglectful alcoholic living in a trailer.

 

Deja and I make dinner

 

Just spaghetti and sauce,

with cheese from a can.

I set the table

with napkins, forks,

and glasses of milk.

 

We have an old radio

and a CD player.

When Deja cranks it up,

I sense the vibrations of

the southern rock beat 

through the floor.

 

We’re dancing,

laughing, even

if we can’t talk 

to each other.

 

Then Daddy

comes in.

 

Music is off,

spaghetti dumped

in the sink,

milk too.

 

His bottle

slammed 

on the table.

Smells like

bad cough syrup.

 

We scatter

like mice

into our rooms.”

 

Hungry, lonely, and stuck wearing old, dirty clothing, Effie heads into a new school where she is slated to repeat a grade. The only person Effie can effectively communicate with at this point is Miss Kathy, her assigned ASL interpreter. 

 

Inspired by a true story and court case, DEER RUN HOME is the fictional story-in-verse of this at-risk child growing and becoming an aspiring poet, while Miss Kathy fights to gain permanent custody of Effie.

 

DEER RUN HOME is a powerful tale for tweens about a deaf girl trapped in silence, the self-absorbed parents who have failed, miserably, to step up to the basic needs of their child, and the loving and determined woman who really cares and really gets what is going on, and who sets out to make things right for Effie. 

 

Richie Partington, MLIS

Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.pbworks.com

https://www.facebook.com/richiespicks/    

richiepartington@gmail.com  

 

 

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