Sunday, August 18, 2019

EXCLUSIVE GUEST POST: Alison Gervais, author of The Silence Between Us

Guest post
The Silence Between Us is my very first own voices novel that tells the story of Maya, a Deaf teen, attending her senior year at a hearing high school. One thing that makes this book a little different is its inclusion of American Sign Language, which is a lot different than English.

One of my favorite scenes inThe Silence Between Usto write – while not necessarily an exciting one – was later on in the story when Maya visits her new Ear, Nose & Throat doctor at Children’s Hospital. There are different types of hearing loss and our hearing can sometimes change, so it’s important to check in with an ENT every once in a while (if not regularly, depending on your situation) to make sure everything is looking good. I felt it important to include this scene because the medical aspect can sometimes be overlooked when you think about hearing loss.

This was like a blast to the past for me, not only because I used to be a patient at Children’s Hospital in Denver, but also because from the age of five onward I had frequent visits with my own Ear, Nose & Throat doctor. I never enjoyed having my ears poked and prodded at, or the procedures that came about over the years. Because my own hearing loss increased over time, it was important to have regular visits with my doctor to monitor how things were progressing. All the hearing tests I needed to have as a result got old pretty quick.

There’s been this running joke between my mom and I about the speech perception part of all my hearing tests, when the audiologist would say certain compound words to me while I sat in the soundproof booth – like hotdogor rainbow. Anytime my mom or I hear one of those words, we have to finish off the list with all the other words, like pancake, doghouse, baseball, ice cream. To anyone not in the know, it definitely comes across as pretty weird, but it still gets a good laugh from us. Even if I don’t have very fond memories of my various doctor visits over the years, at least I can smile about this particular one.

I hope readers enjoy the glimpse into this part of Maya’s story and maybe even view hearing loss as a whole a little differently afterward.

About the author
Watty Award winning author Alison Gervais is an undergraduate student at Colorado State University Pueblo, and has been writing for as long as she can remember. In 2011, she began posting her work on, and has been active on the site for the past five years.

About the book
Moving halfway across the country to Colorado right before senior year isn’t Maya’s idea of a good time. Leaving behind Pratt School for the Deaf where she’s been a student for years only to attend a hearing school is even worse. Maya has dreams of breaking into the medical field and is determined to get the grades and a college degree to match, and she’s never considered being Deaf a disability. But her teachers and classmates at Engelmann High don’t seem to share her optimism.

And then there’s Beau Watson, Engelmann’s student body president and overachiever. Maya suspects Beau’s got a hidden agenda when he starts learning ASL to converse with her, but she also can’t deny it’s nice to sign with someone amongst all the lip reading she has to do with her hearing teachers and classmates. Maya has always been told that Deaf/hearing relationships never work, and yet she can’t help but be drawn to Beau as they spend more and more time together.

But as much Maya and Beau genuinely start to feel for one another, there are unmistakable differences in their worlds. When Maya passes up a chance to receive a cochlear implant, Beau doesn’t understand why Maya wouldn’t want to hear again. Maya is hurt Beau would want her to be anything but who she is—she’s always been proud to be Deaf, something Beau won’t ever be able to understand. Maya has to figure out whether bridging that gap between the Deaf and hearing worlds will be worth it, or if staying true to herself matters more.

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