Audience: 8-12 years
Review by Sarah Bihn (she/her)
MLIS Student, Kent State University iSchool
Mary’s family had lived on Martha’s Vineyard since the first English settlers arrived on the island, and her great-great-grandfather was the first deaf islander. While being born deaf elsewhere during the 19th century would lead to a life of struggle, on Martha’s Vineyard it is nothing out of the ordinary, and people like Mary and her father are supported and accepted by the community. A community that Mary had never traveled beyond and never expected to.
That assumption changes when a young scientist comes to the island looking for the source of the island’s prevalent deafness. At first, Mary’s family and community are taken with the scientist’s charm and intellect, but he soon shows his true nature and Mary finds herself in a dangerous situation: kidnapped as a “live specimen.” Taken from the safety of her home, Mary finds herself without a way to communicate with others for the first time in her life. Unable to ask others for help or explain her situation to sympathetic authorities, Mary must rely on her wit, and the love of the community she left behind in order to escape her kidnapper.
Based on the true history of a thriving deaf community on Martha’s Vineyard in the 19th century LeZotte brings to life the struggles and joys of a young girl who lives on the island. Mary’s inner voice is inquisitive and strong as her family grieves the loss of her older brother, and faces turbulence in their community over land disputes between settlers and Native Americans.