Reviewed by Me for TeensReadToo.com
For Theo, dealing with deafness is simply a way of life. Being the only hearing person in a family that includes a deaf father, deaf mother, and deaf younger brother has taken it's toll on Theo--he doesn't have his own life, not really, since he's always dealing with interpreting for his family. His mother, Palma, is a famous sculptor, and she depends on Theo to make her phone calls, deal with galleries, and basically do anything and everything that she asks. His father, Thomas, is a furniture maker who was born being able to hear but lost his hearing later in life. Thomas hates asking Theo for anything, trying his best to communicate with hearing people on his own. His younger brother, Jeremy, needs Theo's help almost daily with his fifth-grade homework. For Theo, life is pretty much divided into two categories--talking with his voice to people who can hear, and talking with his hands to those who can't.
But then Theo meets Ivy, a girl in his school who can also hear and sign. Her father is deaf, but her mother, who abandoned the family long ago, was able to hear. Ivy is a nurturer with her own small catering business, and soon her world is intwined with Theo's. Her dad, who builds model airplanes for a hobby, even gets Thomas and Jeremy interested, and soon they're getting together as often as they can.
Then tragedy strikes when Theo's dad has a stroke. Suddenly, is demanding, diva-ish mother is acting even more incompetent than usual, refusing to even be alone in the same room as her husband once he comes home. Theo is forced to do everything from making sure his brother gets fed and off to school to hiring new caretakers for his father every time his mother fires one.
Then Ivy comes up with a plan--what about having Harry and Hazel, a brother and sister that Ivy caters for, come and take care of Thomas? They've been learning sign language from Ivy, and they know enough to communicate. Soon things are finally running smoothly in Theo's household, until tragedy strikes yet again.
OF SOUND MIND was such an interesting read, I didn't stop until I was finished. What would it be like, I wondered, to be the only hearing person in my house? What would it take to forget about being a kid and take on the responsibilities at such a young age that Theo had to, like negotiating the buying of his hosue at age eleven? What would I do if I believed my family couldn't survive without me? When does something like being deaf stop defining who you are?
Jean Ferris answers all these questions and more with OF SOUND MIND--a truly great book for people of all ages.