This novel has a unique perspective. It opens up the world of a severely disabled young woman to teen readers who may not have considered such a life. Giving words to a character who is trapped in a life without the ability to communicate raises important issues about how people with disabilities are treated, what makes a life worth living, and how small acts of kindness can transform someone’s existence. Liane Shaw succeeds in writing a compelling, heart wrenching story that could teach empathy, help people deal with grief, and maybe encourage youth to help others. She was wise to use two perspectives, because teens can relate to Alex and her friend Cali, whereas Joanie’s fascinating perspective would be too alien to them if it was the only one presented.
I was literally moved to tears. My mother worked in a group home for people like Joanie and I wonder what they would think of her story. The technology highlighted in this novel may give us the ability to truly learn their perspective and maybe this novel will help families struggling to communicate learn that there is a possibility for them to give the opportunity for their loved ones to express themselves.