Friday, April 5, 2019

El Deafo - Cece Bell

Summary: Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece's class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends. 

Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school--in the the teacher's the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it's just another way of feeling different... and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?

This funny perceptive graphic novel memoir about growing up hearing impaired is also an unforgettable book about growing up, and all the super and super embarrassing moments along the way. (image and summary from

My Review: El Deafo is a cute autobiographical story about when the author went deaf as a child, and her adjustments to life with her hearing aids after that.

I love the way that Cece tells the story of her childhood.  What's great about this little graphic novel is, yes it's about how she grew up deaf, but I feel a lot of us had similar experiences growing up that she had, finding friends, fitting in at school, trying to look cool, and other things.

However, I loved learning about Cece's unique view of life.  One of my favorite bits was when she was in an all-deaf kindergarten, and her teacher was teaching them how to read lips.  She told them that they not only needed to pay close attention to the person's mouth, but they also had to be a sort of detective, because many words look the same when they're said.

One day Cece sees a character on TV who has hearing aids like her.  She's excited to see someone like her (which is why I always advocate for a wider variety of positive characters with different disabilities, races, etc in media, it's great for children to see others like themselves).  However, this particular character is teased and called 'Deafo.'  Instead of being offended, Cece decides she will create an alter ego, hence 'El Deafo.'

The humor is delightful, and the way Cece views and lives life is alternately lonely and full of fun.  Though she is deaf, her story is also resonates with many, such as finding and losing friends, getting a crush, feeling left out, and ultimately coming to love what makes her different.

My Rating: Four Stars

For the sensitive reader: there are a few instances where a character vomits, Cece get a bloody eye, some smoking and one mild swear word.

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