The Right Kind of Fool by Sarah Loudin Thomas is the story of Loyal, a young deaf boy, growing up in a hearing world. A summer of new and unexpected experiences leaves his world turned upside down along with that of his mother and father. I loved how Thomas explored family dynamics; the experience of being deaf; American Sign Language in a time when it was not well understood; and the dynamics of people who, because of differences, have a hard time understanding each other.
As a conversationally fluent speaker of American Sign language myself I was immediately drawn to the idea of a story of a deaf boy who belongs to a local community of hearing people who simply haven’t had the opportunity to understand him. The town where Loyal grew up had little to no exposure with other deaf individuals or Loyal’s “language of the hands.” Not only this interesting dynamic; but the weaving of an unsolved mystery, after Loyal’s discovery of a dead body, made for not only a fascinating and multilayered story.
I loved watching the friendship between Loyal and Rebecca bloom – and it reminded me that when we take time to truly understand others all kinds of barriers can come crashing down or at least be dismantled intentionally brick by brick. Seeing how the strained marriage of Creed and Delphy had weathered the storms of life and observing this family face trials and uncertainty together was encouraging and inspiring.
I also loved the author’s note at the end and hearing that the story itself had some historical origins/inspiration. I thoroughly appreciate the way in which Thomas approached American Sign language, a deaf individual’s experience, and the challenge of communicating with others who speak a different language.
A great escape and truly fascinating story. Thanks to Bethany House publishers for my copy of the book. All opinions shared here are my own.