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Tone Deaf

Review

Tone Deaf

Ali Collins was a child prodigy. She had her whole life set for her from the moment she began playing piano when she was four. Her talent was unrivaled, and she was going places. That is, until she was diagnosed with a brain tumor that turned her life upside down.

During the removal of the tumor, the doctors are forced to take part of her brain involved with hearing. Suddenly deaf, Ali is forced to deal with losing a crucial part of herself with a less-than-understanding father. PTSD and alcohol rule the life of Ali’s dad, and her life now revolves around hiding bruises and getting through life day by day.

"[Rivers] makes the idea of meeting and loving a rock star possible. Even better is her exploration of deaf culture....Little details...give her life without sound an understandable quality for those readers who can hear."

When her best friend drags her along to a punk rock concert of her favorite band, Tone Deaf, Ali can’t help but be frustrated --- what can a deaf girl do at a concert? When she wins a raffle, she is less than delighted. She wins the chance to meet the lead singer of Tone Deaf, Jace Beckett, a well-known player who is renowned for being a jerk to his fans. But there is more to him than what can be seen in the media. Upon noticing her bruises, Jace gives Ali the chance of a lifetime --- join him and Tone Deaf on the tour, to escape her father and live in New York City, finally reaching a place she has only dreamed of.

While the typically rock star/fan cliché seems to be overused, TONE DEAF is anything but repetitive. Rivers manages to tell a tale of love from seemingly opposite sides of the world, while bringing them together in the most fundamental of ways. Ali and Jace are different from the cookie-cutter young adult characters while still being relatable. Jace’s cold exterior is refreshing from a typical flirtatious male lead, which makes every moment where he opens up that much more special. Although their romance moves a little too quickly to be realistic, Rivers makes up for it in each touching scene the two share.

Ali and Jace are not perfect, but their flaws allow it to be said that even the most broken of souls can have hope for love. As they heal together, they learn that it is okay to be broken, and it is okay to ask for help to be healed in even the hardest of times. By adding seemingly small details to each character’s story, she makes the idea of meeting and loving a rock star possible. Even better is her exploration of deaf culture. Disabilities are so often unrepresented in the young adult world, but Rivers describes Ali’s life using ASL and lip reading in a perfectly normal way. Little details, like Ali not noticing if someone has entered a room because she can’t hear the door open, give her life without sound an understandable quality for those readers that can hear.

Ali and Jace have always felt completely alone in this world. But maybe, just maybe, together they can grow to be the people they were always destined to become.

Reviewed by Caitlyn K., Teen Board Member on December 13, 2017

Tone Deaf
by Olivia Rivers