Valencia, the character with hearing loss was wonderfully developed. I think that kids with hearing loss will relate to the ways that Valencia feels isolated and lonely. I also think that kids with hearing loss can find hope for friendship and understanding in the ways we see Valencia develop throughout the story. Below is one of Valencia's tellings that was particularly poignant and that I found completely relatable to my childhood hearing loss struggles:
'I wish I was prepared for when Roberta and I stopped being friends.
You know how sometimes you're friends with someone and they start hanging out with other people and eventually you're not friends anymore, but you can't remember when it all happened? Well, that's not the way it was with Roberta. I know the exact date: October twelfth, fourth grade. Roberta and the other girls were playing chase and I was doing my best to play, too. But after the game was over, she walked up to me and said, "We don't want you to play with us anymore."
"Why?" I asked, even though I already knew the answer.
"The how-tos are too hard," she said. "And you're too slow."
The how-tos were what we called the three ways to talk so I could understand: face me, don't cover your mouth, and speak clearly.
When she said I was too slow, I knew what she meant, too.
When we raced, I could never tell exactly when Megan Lewis called out, "Ready, set, go!" I could see she was getting ready to call it out, but I was never totally sure she had said all three words. When we played musical chairs, I couldn't tell when the music stopped. With hide-and-seek, I never knew when ready-or-not-here-I-come happened. I always figured it out, but I was usually two or three steps behind everyone else. It slowed down the game. I knew that. I guess I just didn't know that everyone else knew it, too. I thought I'd fooled them. But Roberta set me straight.' pp 143-144