HEAR ME, complete at 79,000 words, is a young adult contemporary that will appeal to fans of the TV series Switched at Birth.
According to her parents and twin brother, Luke, hard-of-hearing Margaret Star isn’t deaf enough to matter. Her dream is to share her music on stage—something her all deaf family can’t and won’t understand—but she’d settle for a minute of her parents’ attention or a friend who actually listens.
Gray Trax is a 17-year-old who can’t escape his labels or his turbulent past. Homeless. Troublemaker. Deaf. Angry. No matter how hard he tries to put himself out there, his temper gets the best of him. All he wants is to be valued for who he is instead of judged for his reputation.
When Margaret and Gray collide, they develop a relationship based on unavoidable attraction and their mutual social pariah status. Gray’s amazed that Margaret sees the boy beneath his labels, and, for the first time, Margaret feels heard. But visibility comes at a price, and soon the two become targets of a bully who will stop at nothing to humiliate Margaret and destroy Gray’s attempts to cage his anger.
When Margaret finally finds the courage to take the stage, everything crashes with a bullet. In the chaos, Margaret has the voice to stop Gray from gaining another label—murderer. The question is, will anyone hear her?
HEAR ME explores issues of deafness and Deaf culture and how we sometimes view people through a labeled lens instead of simply valuing them for who they are. My work in the Deaf community in Pittsburgh as both an interpreter and teacher has prepared me to write this book.
My sign name is an ‘M’ hooked over the back of my right ear. My parents gave it to me, because, to them, it signifies the thing that matters most about me. The fact that, unlike the rest of my deaf family, I wear hearing aids. The fact that I’m not quite deaf enough.
For people other than my parents, being the one who can hear would seem like a positive thing.
And it is. Most of the time.
But today, when the flashing doorbell isn’t working, and I hear somebody knocking, it’s not so great. It means I’m the one who discovers my twin brother in handcuffs.
“Good afternoon, Miss.” The officer has one beefy hand on Luke’s shoulder and the other on his own hip, like he’s trying to prove he’s in control of the hulking boy beside him. “Are your parents home?”
I flash wide eyes at Luke, who looks more pissed off than scared, and he shrugs.
“I’m sorry officer,” I say and sign so Luke is included in the conversation. Even if he can’t move his hands to express himself, at least he can see what we’re saying. “My parents are at work.”
As my hands move to create the signs, the officer’s pock-marked face turns red. Sweat beads on his upper lip.
“What did my brother do?” I ask, because the cop isn’t saying anything. Luke’s nostrils flare like he’s about to blow, and I feel like I’m going to be sick. Handcuffs deny my brother of any ability to explain himself. They render him helpless.
The cop takes a deep breath and tosses his shoulders back like he’s defending himself. “Your brother was caught defacing private property.”
I interpret the allegation for Luke with a question on my face, because my brother can at least answer me yes or no with his head.
“Did you do this?” I ask him with my eyes.
When Luke stares at his feet and starts to shuffle, I know the answer. I raise one eyebrow and grit my teeth before giving my brother a gentle kick on the shin to get him to look at me.
“Tell me exactly what happened,” I say and sign.
Luke grunts and pushes his cuffed hands toward me. His eyes are electrified at being silenced.
“He threw several bags of feces at a private residence,” the cop says, and I can’t help but choke on my spit as I interpret the words for my brother.
This is quite the prank, even for Luke.
“Whose house?” I ask, and the cop pulls out a paper from his back pocket. He reads a familiar name.
“Dr. Lenora Allderdein.”