Saturday, August 7, 2010

Broken Voices by Winona Rasheed

Broken Voices

By Winona Rasheed

Reviewed by:
Zulmara Cline

In Broken Voices by Winona Rasheed, the author recounts the story of Ella, a deaf girl, going to high school for the first time. The story covers the first day of school and how Ella has chosen to handle her deafness. For the beginning part of the day, Ella has decided to not tell anyone she is deaf and see what happens. When that does not work very well, she makes a decision to just let her classmates know she is deaf.

Throughout the story, the reader is very aware of Ella’s internal struggle as she tries to decide the best course of action. She is torn between wanting to appear normal in her new school and knowing that she is different. However, she is also keenly aware of not wanting to be seen as “deficient” or “lesser than” because she is deaf. She finds that keeping deafness a secret is almost impossible in high school, where she is called on to answer questions and interact in small groups. When her secret gets out, the reactions from the other students are, at times, predictable, and at other times, it is not.

Rasheed handles the issues of being deaf or different and in a new school with grace and sensitivity. The issues and concerns faced by students are many and students have to make decisions that are not always easy. The internal conflict that arises is real and oftentimes not discussed. The story offers a nice entre for teachers to have a discussion about how to handle those who are different, have a handicap, and what that means. Rasheed offers a number of ways for the teachers and adults to help students with these types of transitions. Overall, this is a great read handling a universal issue.

  1. In the story, the main character is deaf and feels she has to keep her “handicap” a secret. Should those who are deaf keep their deafness a “secret?”
  2. How would you handle the first day of school if you were “different” in some way? Would you tell everyone right away? Or let the other students discover it?
  3. In the story, Ella has some good teachers and some not so good teachers, what are the characteristics of a good teacher for the deaf?
  4. One of the characters in the book knows sign language because her brother is deaf, but she keeps it a secret. Do you think she is ashamed of her brother?
  5. Do you know someone with a handicap? How does it impact their ability to get along with others?

Ella read his lips and mouthed the words, “thank-you” in silence. He was the only familiar face in English class and seeing Marcus, the Good Samaritan, made her feel a little more at ease as she turned to face the teacher.

Opening Line

Ella looked at herself in the full-length mirror hanging on the back of her closet door.



  1. Thank you for a fabulous review of my book. You nailed all the highlights of the story. I just wanted to let you know I appreciate your comments.

  2. What a lovely review! I have read this story and think you nailed the essence of Ms Rasheed's book. Your questions made me rethink the story from a totally different perspective. I believe I can hear now... Thank You, Zulmara!

    Jim Halon, Author...