The star of Read My Lips is Serena Nelson, a deaf teenager who is very accomplished in the art of reading lips. When she moves to a new town and is forced to start a new school, she ultimately finds herself adopted by the popular girls. The reason? Serena can read lips, and the girls want her to keep tabs on everyone else in the school, reporting any and all gossip that she happens to “oversee.”
Although Serena loves the attention and inclusion with the popular girls at first, she soon realizes that the price of popularity may be more than she’s willing to pay. Her new friends don’t think the guy she’s interested in is cool enough, and they’ve got her doing questionable things - things that land her in hot water with her parents and her principal. Is Serena willing to make the change and resolve to only use her lip-reading powers for good?
I really like the premise of this story. I like that the fact that Serena’s deafness doesn’t keep her from becoming a full-bodied teenager who is not defined by her limitations. It really comes through that Serena is a normal teenager who just happens to be deaf, yet her deafness still plays an intricate part in her teenage experience – in one scene she has to choose between wearing her hearing aids and wanting to wear her hair clipped back. At times I wasn’t sure about the authenticity of some of the scenarios, such as Serena’s ability to accurately lip-read conversations that take place clear across a room, but I’ll chalk that up to my own unfamiliarity with the subject matter.
Serena is a likeable character, and I found the situations she finds herself in to be true-to-life. I like that Brown educates the reader about the life of a deaf teen without making the story heavy-handed. This is the first novel I’ve read by Brown, but I’ll be certain to look for more by her.