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Read My Lips by Teri Brown

June 9th, 2008 (07:53 am)

Current Mood: thirsty
Current Song: Keep the River on Your Right by Jonatha Brooke

Moving to a new town is never easy. Neither is navigating through high school. When a girl befriends both an outcast boy and the popular girls at her new school, she quickly becomes an unwilling player in the game of gossip. Uncomfortable with the situation but glad to finally be part of a group, she must decide what's right, what's wrong, and what's best kept secret.

Read My Lips is the perfect title for Teri Brown's debut novel. The main character, Serena Nelson, is oral deaf, meaning that she able to speak and has some level of hearing. She would rather read lips than use sign language. On her first day at a mainstream high school, without really meaning to, Serena reads someone's lips from a distance - kind of like overhearing something - and accidentally shares that conversation with some of her classmates. When they realize that Serena's ability to lip read may come in handy for their personal gain, they lobby for her friendship. These are the school's social butterflies, the girls everyone likes, the cream of the crop. Initially, Serena loves the feeling of acceptance, but she soon discovers that the price for admittance to their exclusive sorority may be too high for her to pay.

Like all teenagers, Serena has things she loves (like hooded sweatshirts and skateboarding) and things that bug her (like having to move to a new town). She starts crushing on a guy called Miller who is an outcast at school. She finds that she can be herself around him, and he becomes one of her strongest supporters. Even though the popular girls don't like him, Serena does.

Throughout the story, Serena deals with her physical and moral challenges realistically. She is not ashamed of her hearing impairment, but she tends to hide her hearing aids with her hair. She responds well to her own moral compass. When she lip reads private conversations between classmates or teachers at someone else's request, she knows what she's doing is similar to eavesdropping or spying, and she doesn't always tell them everything she sees and hears.

As Serena tries to balance her time with her crush, her family, and her friends, Brown gives each character distinct traits. Rather than the sorority being a clique of clones, each of the main girls has her own personality, and not all of them are gossip hounds. Some prove themselves worthy of Serena's friendship, while others, with their selfish agendas, do not.

For a time, Serena allows herself to look and act like the queen bees by taking out her eyebrow piercing and dressing in trendy clothes rather than comfy hoodies, but thankfully, she comes back to her senses. When the truth comes out in the end, as it always does, Serena is genuinely apologetic. She is a solid, believable character, and this is a solid story. Recommended.

Read my interview with the author.

Join Teri and ten other authors for a week-long launch party at her blog June 9th - 13th! Check out the schedule and the invite, then bounce back to the blog.


Posted by: angelrachel (angelrachel)
Posted at: April 6th, 2008 08:18 pm (UTC)

I've read this book - brilliant!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: April 7th, 2008 02:19 am (UTC)

I was going to tell YOU to read it when it came out in June! :)

Posted by: Lisa Schroeder, Author for Kids and Teens (lisa_schroeder)
Posted at: April 6th, 2008 08:21 pm (UTC)

Can't wait to read this one! Great review!! :)

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: April 7th, 2008 02:16 am (UTC)

Thanks, Lisa!

Posted by: Vectra =) (vectra_76)
Posted at: April 6th, 2008 09:01 pm (UTC)

It sounds very interesting. I'm going to add it to my wishlist. Great review!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: April 7th, 2008 02:16 am (UTC)

Enjoy. Thanks!

Posted by: barrieinca (barrieinca)
Posted at: April 7th, 2008 04:51 am (UTC)

Thanks for the great review!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: April 7th, 2008 04:54 am (UTC)

Thanks for reading it!

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: April 8th, 2008 03:26 am (UTC)
Yay, Read My Lips!

What a great story! I mean, taking down a secret high school sorority? I am *so* in! :-) But my favorite aspect of this book is that Serena is a teen who happens to be deaf, not a deaf teen. It takes skill to write a character like that, and Teri Brown did it so well.

Great review and interview, Little Willow! Thank you!

-Kristin Tubb

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: April 8th, 2008 03:27 am (UTC)
Re: Yay, Read My Lips!

"But my favorite aspect of this book is that Serena is a teen who happens to be deaf, not a deaf teen."

Mine as well.

Thanks for reading!

Posted by: Melissa Walker (mewalker1999)
Posted at: April 8th, 2008 03:50 am (UTC)

Ooh, can't wait for this one--I've been loving the cover and premise for months.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: April 8th, 2008 03:54 am (UTC)

Me too. This cover fits this book perfectly. I always remind customers not to judge books by their covers, but I _LOVE IT_ when covers fit the story perfectly!

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