This site has limited support for your browser. We recommend switching to Edge, Chrome, Safari, or Firefox.

Book Review: Broken Voices by Winona Rasheed

It's Bonus Book Review Saturday! Today, we're looking at a book about a young deaf girl…

Broken Voices

New high school student Ella Rose Abbott appears to be normal enough, that is until she tries to use her voice and communicate, and then she wants to run and hide. Ella Rose is different. She wonders what it will take to make friends and fit in at her new school. She is desperate to belong and seeming normal is not an easy task to pull off amongst her peers. As she soon discovers, her secret does not stay hidden long. Broken Voices by Winona Rasheed is thought provoking as it takes you inside the world of living with a handicap as seen through the eyes of young Ella, a teenager struggling to belong in a hearing world. Broken Voices

My Review: 3 Stars

The story was simple and sweet, but it seems like the kind of think you would have read 10 or 20 years ago. It's all about how this little deaf girl is normal and not weird because of her handicap, but that is really not a relevant topic anymore. With so many TV shows, books, and movies talking about it, the story seemed a bit "old hat". A lot of the story is written in the passive "was", which made it a bit hard to read. Thoughts and inner monologue are often said aloud, and the dialogue can be a bit clumsy, awkward, and unrealistic in many places. There are quite a few typos spread throughout. Still, the story is sweet and simple, and though it may not be the most creative or original book, it's worth at least three stars.

Here's a Taste:

Ella looked at herself in the full-length mirror hanging on the back of her closet door. Noticing the slight disarray, she tucked the beige blouse into the waistband of her brown tweed, pleated skirt. The corners of her mouth turned down at the sight of her brand new school uniform. “I am not feeling this,” the 13-year-old said, shaking her head at her appearance. “These drab colors and this uniform make me look like I am going to a scout meeting instead of high school.” She was matching from head to toe, including brown, knee-high socks, a tie, vest, and a brown sporty tam to go with the regulated school outfit. “What were they thinking when they concocted this fashion statement for 9th graders? This is the most uncouth dress code ever, just downright unfashionable!” The words tumbled as though she was talking with mush in her mouth, for her voice was distorted and inaudible. It was like her voice box was disconnected from the muscles in her throat. However, safe in her room, she felt free as a bird talking, for she knew what she was saying and she didn’t feel embarrassed at how she sounded. “They would never wear anything like this to school in Savannah Georgia.” Before, she could wear the colorful dresses that she loved, or wear her favorite patched jeans with a tee shirt if she wanted. But not anymore, the new school had a strict dress code. They wanted everybody to be the same. All students had to appear equal and uniform. Everybody had to feel that they fit in; whether you were black, white, rich, or poor. However, for Ella, she knew it was going to take more than a regulated uniform for her to feel comfortable and normal, because she wasn’t like everyone one else. She had a handicap and she already knew that kids tend to frown at those who are different. Thinking it over and speaking aloud the words trickled from her lips. “Being deaf and having speech difficulties would be hard to play off amongst a bunch of strangers.” She wasn’t sure how she would accomplish this without seeming like a snob. She placed the brown hat on her head and tilted it to the side, trying to add a little coolness and flair to the drab outfit. Not liking the way she looked, she began to complain. “Oh I can’t wear this! Grandma always said that a hat makes a lady look dignified, but this one makes me look like a dork!” Feeling terrible with the way the hat was looking on her head, she snatched it off and tossed it on her bed. “Hats are for church going and special occasions. Besides, I prefer pretty hats that are girlish looking, big and floppy, because that’s how you do it when you are from Savannah, Georgia.” She began to sway back and forth in front of the mirror as though she was dancing. A smile appeared on her face as she thought of her old home and her old school; she picked up her favorite yellow big hat with the tiny red rose buds around the rim and placed it on her head. She had worn this hat with a yellow, lacy dress to the mother-daughter luncheon at the Silent World Academy, a school for the deaf. She wore it then and she wore it again the day she graduated from the 8th grade. Standing at the mirror, she was like a Myna bird, talking up a storm, just like she did when she went to the deaf school in Georgia. There she felt normal; her speech problem didn’t embarrass her or make her feel inadequate, unusual, or weird. It was not out of the ordinary seeing students speaking through sign language or writing notes to communicate, or speaking with a voice that sounded strained. But, it was going to be different and difficult now, for her biggest fear was being amongst the normal kids with voices and ears that work. How was she going to communicate with them without feeling uneasy? Ella flopped down on her bed; she lay across it with her hands folded under her chin as she stretched out on her stomach, her floppy hat still on her head. “I hate going through this; being different sucks! I just won’t go! Why should I?” She uttered. “The kids aren’t going to accept me because I am not normal anyway. They are just going to tease and make fun because my voice is strange, but I can speak! I am deaf, not mute like a fish and I can read lips, because I am not blind as a bat!” Feeling defeated, she just couldn’t understand why her handicap would be a problem for others when it wasn’t a problem for her. She accepted it, now why can’t they? Why can’t kids just be nice to one another she thought? That’s what’s not normal. It’s not me! It’s them!

About the Author:

Winona Rasheed was born in Troy Ohio. She is a Miami County Trojan and a Virgo according to the stars. Though she lives in the Nation's Capital of Washington DC, she has a country gal feel about herself. Winona also known by the nicknames of Nona or Nonnie is very creative when it comes to writing and her creativity shows in her books for children and young adults. She has written 14 books, including two novels and 1 nonfiction. At the moment, she is working on Book #15. Writing fiction started a long time ago, while in her teens, but success did not emerge until she was in her thirties when she stumbled upon a writing course, which when finished began to open up doors and opportunities in her writing career. Her dedication paid off leading her into the world of freelance writing. She also helps others write, edit and prepare their manuscripts for submission. She takes pleasure in inspiring and encouraging others in their quest to write. "In other words, once you have the writing bug, there is no cure for it. You just have to let your pencil dance and your thoughts flow if you want to be healed." Winona Rasheed