Show Me A Sign

Show Me A Sign

By Ann Clare LeZotte

It’s 1805, and Mary Lambert is living on Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the coast of Boston.  Mary is deaf, as are many others on Martha’s Vineyard.  But everyone on the island, whether hearing or not, is fluent in sign language – it’s part of island culture.

When Andrew Noble arrives from the mainland, Mary begins to wonder if there is something unusual about the island.  Andrew is intent on doing scientific research into the “problem” of deafness on Martha’s Vineyard. He treats the deaf as though they are beneath him and refuses to address them directly, which islanders consider rude.

Andrew is determined to prove his worth as a scientist and as such, decides to return to Boston with a “live specimen”.  When Andrew kidnaps Mary and throws her aboard his ship, she is stunned.  But her shock grows after her arrival in Boston, where she learns that the deaf are treated like animals.  She cannot communicate with anyone and she begins to question her own value as a person.  Will she ever get back to the safety of her island home?

Show Me A Sign shows us the ways in which different cultures have often been treated as worthless and the impact that this treatment has on those cultures.  The book also touches on the lives of the First Nations people of Martha’s Vineyard, the Wampanoag, and the lives of freed black people.  The author also provides readers with a history of deafness on Martha’s Vineyard and the evolution of sign language around the world.  An amazing and timely story!

Highly recommended!