The Sign for Home

Blair Fell. Atria, $27 (416p) ISBN 978-1-982175-95-5

A man sets out to find the one who got away in Fell’s sweet debut. Arlo Dilly, a 23-year-old deaf and blind Jehovah’s Witness, has been sheltered and isolated under the guardianship of his uncle, Brother Birch, and longtime interpreter, Molly. After he enrolls in a summer writing course, he searches for another interpreter to assist Molly in class. Cyril Brewster takes the gig and alerts Arlo to the extent that Molly had been derelict in her interpreting duties, making decisions on Arlo’s behalf without consulting him. Meanwhile, a school assignment stirs up Arlo’s memories of Shri, the girl he fell in love with at a boarding school for the deaf, and the events that led to his expulsion. Then, a reunion with an old friend reveals that Shri might still be alive, contrary to what Molly and Brother Birch had told Arlo, so he enlists Cyril’s help to find her. But after Brother Birch catches wind of the plan, he fires Cyril and restricts Arlo’s limited independence, prompting Arlo to strike out for New York City alone and leaving Cyril and Molly to team up to find him and then reunite him with Shri. Fell writes with a deep compassion and keen attention to the experiences of living with deafness and blindness. This heartfelt romance is hard to resist. (Apr.)
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