Give Me a Sign by Anna Sortino: A Book Review

The young adult book Give Me a Sign by Anna Sortino follows a junior in high school named Lilah who is hard of hearing. Her inability to hear is so significant that she needs to wear hearing aids in both of her ears, but she can get by with lip reading. Even then, she still struggles with hearing sometimes. Because of this, she wants to learn American Sign Language (ASL) to better communicate with others.

However, Lilah’s ASL is limited and the only other hard-of-hearing friend she has is her younger brother. So, Lilah decides to get a job at her old summer camp, which is for the deaf and blind. While working at the summer camp, she learns ASL to the point that she is fluent. She meets another deaf person, Isaac, who helps her on her journey as they grow closer together.

While working at the camp, Lilah grows into a more confident person who embraces her hearing loss and finds unexpected love.

As someone who is hard of hearing, I appreciate Lilah’s story and her journey to loving herself for who she is. Like Lilah, I struggled my whole life, and reading about her struggles validated my feelings— I am not the only one.

This kind of book is helpful for teenagers and adults who are hard of hearing or deaf. It’s relatability is representative of the struggles the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities commonly endure. The author Anna Sortino is also deaf and wears hearing aids while also using ASL to help her communicate. It’s important for the deaf community to have representation in various careers, especially in literature. Having a book written by someone else in the community allows us to have someone else who truly understands our struggles.

Apart from the representation in this book, it is still a great read for those who are not hard of hearing or deaf. Sortino creates this world of characters that deal with very real teenage and adult issues, like self-esteem, first love, first job, and finding a community of friends and where one belongs in the world.
Personally, I am not a fan of books that largely follow romantic plots; more specifically, books chock-full of multiple spicy scenarios. This book has just the perfect amount of romance for me.

As an adult reading a young adult book, the writing style and voice read simpler than adult books. Personally, I didn’t mind, but there were a few situations where the characters could have just easily communicated with one another, and their problems would have been resolved.

For example, one scene consisted of Isaac ghosting Liliah after they both experienced a traumatic situation. He could have told her he wasn’t ready to talk to her about the situation, but he didn’t, and it added more stress for Lilah to worry about. However, thinking back as a teenager, it would be something teenagers reading this book might have not yet learned.

If you are a fan of contemporary stories with beautiful representations of deaf culture and the deaf community and fluffy, light romance as a subplot, I highly recommend adding this to your to-read list!