El Deafo Summary
El Deafo is a graphic novel about a young deaf girl.
It centers around her deafness and feelings about deafness (and her ginormous hearing aid), with the stories of her friendships, family and school illustrating her points. Now, as a deaf woman, I’ve been recommended El Deafo so much so that a blog reader even sent me a copy because they were so sure I’d love it.
And as a deaf woman, I totally resisted reading this book until now because the title annoyed me.
I was annoyed that it was called “El Deafo,” like, I wondered if it could just be called something less… oh, “deafo“? Is this thing going to be a deaf graphic novel version of Wonder? (because, remember: I did not like the movie Wonder). I don’t want another superhero-overcoming-whatever-because-they-have-a-disability tired trope.
In all honesty, I only read the book because I’m having a such a hard time reading anything that I put out there for the Lit League now. I thought there was a chance in hell that I’d actually finish a graphic novel! Plus, my oldest son has read it (many, MANY times), so he could help me out with this.
My reasons for finally reading El Deafo were not noble.
But, hallelujah to whatever reason that actually worked to get me to read this book, because this book was AWESOME!! This book ROCKED! This book is GRADE-A, FANTASTIC!!
This book is a telling of part of my life, and it was deliciously refreshing to read a character that was so much like myself. Holy cow. A verbal, non-signing profoundly deaf kid who didn’t want to sign?! THAT WAS ME! “Lipreading and using her hearing aids for mischievous reasons?! MEEEEEEEE!” “Choosing friends on the basis of who she could hear and/or didn’t mind she was deaf? MEEEEEEE!” “Getting into trouble because she didn’t hear stuff? ME! ME!” “Super awkward and self-conscious about enormous hearing aids?! MEEEE!!! ALL MEEEEEEEEE!”
I really loved El Deafo
I want other people to understand the parts that the author is trying to convey, like, how there is such diversity in the deaf community. How VOLUME does not make our world fly, nor speaking like you reset the speed of your iPhone down a few notches (and up a few decibels).
I want people to understand that deaf kids – and adults for that matter – are just kids and people who can’t hear: we get crushes on people, like to jump on trampolines and have fun too.
I want people to understand what we don’t all know sign language (or want to learn); being deaf doesn’t come with an automatic download of ASL into our brains; it’s a learned language and if we don’t actually learn it, we don’t know it.
That’s my El Deafo review, and El Deafo summary – let’s move on to the discussion questions!
El Deafo Discussion Questions
I drew up some El Deafo discussion questions for those of you who might want a little something to spring from. These were deaf-related questions that I (as a deaf person) am personally curious about – questions I’d like to hear the responses from of anyone who reads the book. Those are all grouped under “On Being Deaf.”
The other questions I thought were just standard book club kind of questions to stimulate more thought about the book overall.
Let me know what you think! I’d love to hear your responses; seriously. Either comment here, or come on over to the Lit League Book & Movie Club on Facebook.
Vlog Chat: Micah & Meriah Talk About El Deafo
My eldest son and I have a chat about El Deafo on YouTube! Check it out:
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.