Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Length: 400 pages
First Published: 2022
Sara Nović gives you an insightful look into deaf culture with a story about the personal and political crises that surround students and the headmistress at the River Valley School for the Deaf. Charlie is a rebellious transfer student who has never met another deaf person and Austin is the school’s golden boy who is shocked when his baby sister is born hearing. Meanwhile, February is desperately trying to keep the school open and her marriage intact.
What I loved most about True Biz was how much I learned about deaf culture and community. I was shocked by some of the historical and even current stances on sign language and had some astounding insights into the deaf perspective. The coming-of-age narrative between Charlie and Austin was quite good, though I will admit that the ending did not give the closure I would have liked.
A transporting novel that follows a year of seismic romantic, political, and familial shifts for a teacher and her students at a boarding school for the deaf, from the acclaimed author of Girl at War
True biz (adj./exclamation; American Sign Language): really, seriously, definitely, real-talk
True biz? The students at the River Valley School for the Deaf just want to hook up, pass their history finals, and have politicians, doctors, and their parents stop telling them what to do with their bodies. This revelatory novel plunges readers into the halls of a residential school for the deaf, where they’ll meet Charlie, a rebellious transfer student who’s never met another deaf person before; Austin, the school’s golden boy, whose world is rocked when his baby sister is born hearing; and February, the headmistress, who is fighting to keep her school open and her marriage intact, but might not be able to do both. As a series of crises both personal and political threaten to unravel each of them, Charlie, Austin, and February find their lives inextricable from one another—and changed forever.
This is a story of sign language and lip-reading, disability and civil rights, isolation and injustice, first love and loss, and, above all, great persistence, daring, and joy. Absorbing and assured, idiosyncratic and relatable, this is an unforgettable journey into the Deaf community and a universal celebration of human connection.