cover image True Biz

True Biz

Sara Nović. Random House, $27 (400p) ISBN 978-0-593-24150-9

Nović (Girl at War) returns with an electrifying narrative set at a present-day boarding school for Deaf high school students, where they find love and friendship and battle a series of injustices. It’s centered around the River Valley School for the Deaf and follows three protagonists: headmistress February Waters, a hearing ally of the Deaf community; Austin, the school’s popular kid who belongs to a generational Deaf family; and Charlie, the newly admitted transfer student who struggles to fit in because of her inability to use ASL. Instead, her hearing parents forced her to have a cochlear implant. February, determined to make Charlie’s language immersion easier, assigns Austin to be Charlie’s guide. A romance develops between the two, but Charlie still struggles—her learning is disrupted by her mother’s refusal to sign and the frequent headaches caused by the implant. Meanwhile, February has a troubled marriage and must fight against bureaucratic forces that are trying to shut down the school. Circumstances worsen when, one morning, Charlie, Austin, and his roommate go missing from the school. With complex characters seething with rage against the injustices they face, and an immersive and novel treatment of Charlie’s experience learning ASL, Nović offers an unforgettable homage to resilience. This is brilliant. Agent: Alexandra Christie, Wylie Agency. (Apr.)