Of Sound Mind by Jean Ferris

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A poignant novel partially set in a world of silence

High school senior Theo is fluent in two languages: spoken English and sign. His parents and brother, Jeremy, are deaf, but Theo can hear, which has over the years cast him in the role of interpreter for his family. Unfortunately, it's not a welcome duty, especially in the case of his mother, Palma. She is a successful sculptor who, being deeply suspicious of "hearies," expects Theo to act as her business manager. And Jeremy relies on Theo for company and homework help. It's become especially frustrating lately because Theo has met a fascinating new girl at school, Ivy, with whom he wants to spend as much time as possible. Theo's father, Thomas, is the only one who has never burdened him, but that changes when Thomas has a stroke. Palma, frightened and self-absorbed, cannot bring herself to nurse her husband, leaving Theo with the full burden to bear. But with the help of Ivy and some of her friends, Theo is finally able to change his family's dynamics and find time to plan his future.

About Jean Ferris

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Jean Ferris is the author of many novels for young people, including Bad, which was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. She lives in Coronado, California.
Published September 24, 2001 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR). 224 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Young Adult, Children's Books. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Of Sound Mind

Kirkus Reviews

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Theo’s problems are both unusual and ordinary, as the only hearing child in a family otherwise deaf, and as the child of a parent who selfishly forgets who is the adult.

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Publishers Weekly

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In what PW called "a taut novel," a high school senior who can hear and who knows sign language often finds himself in a burdensome and exhausting position in a family in which everyone else is deaf.

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Publishers Weekly

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Ferris effectively establishes the manners and mores of the deaf community and American Sign Language, using examples such as Parma's rudeness when she clasps her youngest son's hands to shut him up, and describing the signers' habit of watching facial and body language intently and their suspici...

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Teen Reads

Theo, a senior in high school, dreams of going to MIT to study mathematics, but he knows it's a dream that will never happen.

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