By: Cece Bell
Date Finished: 01.16.17
By day, Cece is a kid who has to wear a bulky device – the Phonic Ear – in order the hear. But in times of trouble, she’s a brave hero on a quest to find the most precious thing of all: a True Friend. El Deafo is Bell’s memoir of her experience of growing up with deafness which includes the fearless, made-stronger-by-disability alter-ego that she created as a kid. And, like all good superhero stories, El Deafo is a graphic novel.
This book perfectly reflects the mindset and logic of a kid. Young Cece is embarrassed by the Phonic Ear and is convinced that she needs to hide her deafness in order to be accepted. The adult in me kept thinking, “You’re making this harder than it needs to be,” and Bell admits as much in the afterword. However, the story itself is free from this kind of commentary. Cece never wavers in her convictions that the world is exactly the way she understands it.
Ultimately, this is a familiar story to anyone who’s ever been a child or dealt with loneliness. It’s the tale of girl dealing with deafness, yes, but it’s also the saga of a girl navigating the politics of elementary school friendships, sleepovers, and birthday parties. It’s also a great empathy builder in the way it shows several characters (including Cece) struggle to empathize with one another.
At the end of the day: For me