Wednesday, December 10, 2008

HURT GO HAPPY by Ginny Rorby

HURT GO HAPPY is the story of a young deaf girl and her struggle to adjust to the hearing world around her. Her story combined, with a grumpy old scientist and a rambunctious chimp, make for a book that is sure to be successful with readers both young and old.

Joey lost her hearing at the age of six. Things haven't been easy for her since her communication with others is limited to lip-reading which isn't as easy as it might seem. She is not able to understand her little brother or even her step-father who wears a drooping mustache. Joey's mother is her only real connection with the world, and she refuses to allow Joey to learn sign language because she believes it will draw attention to her disability. School is a struggle most days, and Joey looks forward to returning to the safety of her family and the nature surrounding her country home.

One afternoon while hunting for mushrooms, Joey stumbles onto the property of Dr. Charlie Mansell. At first the grouchy old man orders her off his land, but then he recognizes her disability and invites her into his home. Charlie reveals that he was raised by deaf parents, and he is shocked to learn that Joey has not been allowed to learn American Sign Language. She forms a special friendship with Charlie and the chimp he rescued from the horrors of a science lab. The scientist and the chimp work together to teach Joey how to sign.

Complications arise when Joey's mother finds out about the secret lessons. Their mother/daughter relationship begins to crumble as Joey asserts her independence and demands that she be allowed to continue with her new relationships. The mysterious cause of Joey's hearing loss seems to be the motivation as her mother continues to object to the use of sign language. Charlie is insistent that Joey cannot hope to live a normal, productive life without it.

Ginny Rorby has created an emotional and touching story with likeable human characters and one fun-loving chimpanzee. Readers will be entertained as well as educated about life with a disability and the cruelty of animal testing.

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