This book...kind of annoyed me. Leah Hager Cohen is a decent writer, but she doesn't have a strong story to tell here. Or she does--at least, I believe there's several good stories to tell--but she doesn't actually do that to my satisfaction.
This subtitle of this book is "Inside a Deaf World." Wrong. The author is hearing herself, which may not have presented too much of a problem if she had had more focus, but to me the book came off as very "me me me me me." We hear about how badly Cohen wanted/wants to be deaf, how she grew up on the property of a school for the deaf (until she was seven), we hear about her family (which, to be fair, does include deaf grandparents), we hear about the fleas in the apartment she moved into, we hear about the deaf guy she dated, we hear about her life & choices, how she eats cookies... Meanwhile she is telling the story of a school for the deaf, and highlighting the stories of two of the students as well as the story of her father, the superintendent of the school.
Here's the thing: the deaf school, the stories of the students there, deaf culture, controversies within the deaf community--these are all really worthy topics. Even the story of her romantic relationship with a deaf person and the story of her (short) stint interpreter are things I would totally be interested in reading about. But they were all just thrown together, like they were given equal weight. It was like she talked about her two months as an interpreter as much as she talked about other, way larger, more important issues. This maybe wouldn't bother me so much but I've heard it touted as this awesome thing, and on the back cover of the book where it lists the genre/section it goes in, it says "Education." Urgh. It doesn't cite a single source, despite being peppered with statistics and things that are definitely not common knowledge.
At times I felt like she was trying really hard to be poignant or sentimental and it just did not elicit that response in me. The parts where she deals with the school and the students' stories was written in such a way that was unclear whether she was there in person witnessing this or if it was related to her later on--in either case, it seemed overdone and oddly omniscient. It was distracting!!
On the positive side, I did learn some new things. It was quick and pretty fun to read--engaging, I suppose. This book has been out for 20 years though, so I wonder how much has changed for the deaf community, how much of it is out of date. I know several people who have been "mainstreamed," and I know a couple interpreters for mainstreamed children. I think it would have been more compelling from a deaf point of view.