Comments for El Deafo
El Deafo: 11/02/14
El Deafo by Cece Bell is a memoir told in graphic novel format. The book is about her early childhood and time in elementary school. Bell uses adorable rabbits to tell her tale of being the only deaf kid in school and in the neighborhood.
When Cece was a toddler she contracted meningitis and lost her hearing in the process — her first clue to the fact being that no one asked her if she wanted ice cream, even though her roommate was always given some.
Rather than making her memoir one of tragic loss, she recounts her childhood through elementary school as the backstory for a superhero — El Deafo — with super hearing abilities. Because Cece draws herself (and everyone else) as a rabbit, her ears are big enough to highlight the various hearing aids she's given to use.
The best hearing aid, both for being able to hear the teacher in class, and for her super hero abilities, is the Phonic Ear. It's a microphone transmitter that sends to the receiver she wears. If the teacher forgets to take it off, then Cece can hear everything the teacher does (like take breaks in the teachers' lounge, eating, or even using the toilet)!
Young Cece, above all, wanted to be accepted by her classmates on her own terms. That journey involved learning how to lip read (and realizing all the frustrating situations where lip reading doesn't work), and enjoying TV in the days before closed captioning was commonplace, and annoying people who want to use her deafness to boost their own feelings of self worth.
Anyway, I could go on for hours about how much my daughter and I love this book. She and I literally had a few tugs-of-war over the book to see who would get to it next. Likewise, every person I've shown the book has enjoyed reading it. It's just one of those universal coming of age stories that is relatable to everyone through its use of humor.