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THE WORDS IN MY HANDS by Asphyxia Kirkus Star


by Asphyxia ; illustrated by Asphyxia

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-77321-528-0
Publisher: Annick Press

Sixteen-year-old Piper McBride searches for her place as a Deaf person in a mildly dystopian hearing world.

In a near-future Australia, the prime minister is a puppet of the Monsanto-like lab-engineered food corporation Organicore. Most people eat Organicore’s nutritionally balanced food products, believing the propaganda that “wild food” is dangerous. With food and fuel prices skyrocketing and supplies tanking, Piper decides to learn how to grow her own food. She meets Marley, a CODA, or child of a deaf adult, who introduces her to Australian Sign Language and to his Deaf mother. Piper, a Deaf person raised oral (with lip reading), and Marley, a signing CODA, must each figure out their relationships to the hearing and Deaf worlds and their relationship with one other. This gentle yet honest story is true to one Deaf experience and is a pleasure to read, with artistic designs on every page and full illustrations and personal touches scattered throughout. The text and illustrations also introduce readers to basic permaculture concepts, including how to start a compost pile and how to set up a mandala garden. Asphyxia skillfully interweaves subjects, including the diversity of Deaf language usage and access, Deaf interactions with the police, and having a friend in an abusive relationship. Piper and all other main characters are White.

A distressingly insightful vision of the future that also offers warmth and hope.

(author's note, art journal ideas, note on ASL and Auslan) (Dystopian. 13-18)