The Sign for Home

Blair Fell

Quick Synopsis

When Arlo Dilly, a sheltered young DeafBlind man, decides to take a writing course at the local community college, he hires a new tactile ASL interpreter who exposes him to much more than English.

Publisher’s Synopsis

Arlo Dilly is young, handsome and eager to meet the right girl. He also happens to be DeafBlind, a Jehovah’s Witness, and under the strict guardianship of his controlling uncle. His chances of finding someone to love seem slim to none.

And yet, it happened once before: many years ago, at a boarding school for the Deaf, Arlo met the love of his life—a mysterious girl with onyx eyes and beautifully expressive hands which told him the most amazing stories. But tragedy struck, and their love was lost forever.

Or so Arlo thought.

After years trying to heal his broken heart, Arlo is assigned a college writing assignment which unlocks buried memories of his past. Soon he wonders if the hearing people he was supposed to trust have been lying to him all along, and if his lost love might be found again.

No longer willing to accept what others tell him, Arlo convinces a small band of misfit friends to set off on a journey to learn the truth. After all, who better to bring on this quest than his gay interpreter and wildly inappropriate Belgian best friend? Despite the many forces working against him, Arlo will stop at nothing to find the girl who got away and experience all of life’s joyful possibilities.

Book Review

The Sign for Home is a debut novel that is billed as romance but is really more of a contemporary coming-of-age book. It is an impactful story about a young DeafBlind man who struggles to leave the shadows of his past and find independence from his conservative religious family.

The story is told from two viewpoints in alternating chapters: Arlo’s and his new interpreter, Cyril’s. This allows readers to understand both Arlo’s thoughts and perspective as a Jehovah’s Witness and a DeafBlind man as well as Cyril’s as a hearing-sighted interpreter who happens to also be agnostic and gay. The other characters in the book each play a role in making the book interesting and whole. They are all well-developed and compelling characters.

After the first chapter, I was not sure what to think of the book and considered putting it down. However, by the end of the third chapter, I was completely hooked and knew I would read it in a sitting or two.

I found that the way Blair Fell structured and voiced the story to be fascinating and unlike anything I have read before. A large part of this arises from the fact Arlo’s first language is ASL. Reading so much from the prospective of Arlo really provides readers with an inside peak at what it is like to be DeafBlind and struggle to navigate a world made for the sighted and hearing.

The Sign for Home focuses on Arlo’s journey of finding himself, accepting past trauma, and finding freedom. A large part of this is centered around the fact that Arlo’s guardian and SSP believe they know what is best for him, rather than allowing him any agency. The book also discusses abled people’s desire to use disabled persons as motivation, inspirations, or the opportunity to be a saver or hero, despite the fact disabled persons do not need to be saved. The story was both emotional and thought-provoking. There were points that I was super angry and also heartbroken.

Overall, The Sign for Home was a fantastic book that will stick with me for a long time to come. I highly recommend it, unless perhaps you are a Jehovah’s Witness.

Rating

Overall Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Writing

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Plot

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Character development

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Sign for Home

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Genre
Contemporary Fiction

Publication Date
April 5, 2022

Pages
416


Storygraph Rating
4.38 stars

Goodreads Rating
4.19 stars


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Note: I received gifted copy of this book from the publisher, Emily Bestler Books. Regardless, I always provide a fair and honest review.

One thought on “The Sign for Home

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