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Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Release Date: April 2, 2004
ISBN: 0374455848
Format Reviewed: Paperback
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Genre: Teen Fiction
Reviewed: 2004
Reviewer: Brenda Weeaks
Reviewer Notes: Many major deaf characters

Of Sound Mind 
By Jean Ferris

      Theo is a high school senior. He’s also a CODA (child of deaf adults). His parents are deaf, so is his younger brother. His mother is a famous sculptor – and a prima donna. Theo is the family interpreter. By age eighteen, he’s emotional drained, to the point of avoiding a pretty girl named Ivy when she signs to him. He likes her but doesn’t want to take on another deaf person.

      Ivy’s dad is deaf. The two of them just moved to town. When she sees Theo signing to himself, she thinks he’s deaf. When Ivy finally approaches Theo, they discover neither is deaf. Ivy thinks she has a new friend that understands the deaf. Someone she can be comfortable with, without explaining deafness. She discovers Theo is tired and wants to, more or less, step away from deafness. He doesn’t like talking about deafness all the time and he doesn’t want to be known as the guy who signs, because it’s not who he is. Ivy resents his attitude.

      Theo’s attitude comes from a life of interpreting for his family and putting up with his mother, who feels her identification in life is as an artist, not as a mother. She’s cheap and demanding, even during a crisis, and Theo is usually the one to carry the burden. Theo’s father tries not to bother him too much. He loves his sons and enjoys spending time with them. Theo sees his father as a strong, quiet man. His hands are not his language but his life, and this is one reason Theo finds himself resenting those who learn the occasional sign for the fun of it.

      Theo and Ivy both have issues, and they come face to face with them, through each other. Ivy is there to support Theo as his family goes through some serious changes, and Theo helps Ivy deal with a hearing mother missing-in-action.

      Of Sound Mind is a remarkable, heart wrenching read for teens, young adults and adults. The deaf culture is accurate and the situations very, very life like. Readers can expect an honest, sensitive look into both the deaf and hearing cultures. They can also expect to come away with a better understanding of the Deaf and their culture. I highly recommended this one to all libraries.