Review of Sail Me Away Home

Sail Me Away Home Sail Me Away Home
by Ann Clare LeZotte
Intermediate, Middle School    Scholastic    304 pp.
11/23    9781338742503    $18.99

Following the events of Show Me a Sign (rev. 9/20) and Set Me Free (rev. 11/21), it is now 1810 and Mary leaves Martha’s Vineyard again, this time to travel with several hearing, non-signing missionary women to England and France. “The holy relics,” as she thinks of them, want to use her to learn about deaf education to expand their missionary work. Although Mary feels at odds with their imperialistic religiosity and sourpuss personalities, she can’t pass up the chance to connect with deaf educators and students in France, where she knows there is an exclusively signing school for the deaf. Her first-person, present-tense account is in part a history of deaf education in England and France (ultimately, fundamental to American Sign Language and American schools for the deaf). But LeZotte also conveys Mary’s experience of exclusion by “the holy relics,” who are convinced of her intellectual inferiority and disregard her in communication. Mary’s stalwart nature stands her in good stead: stubborn and driven in her desire to bring greater access to sign language and education to the deaf at home, she dodges the missionaries’ attempts to keep her captive. Through Mary’s insights and opinions (which are rather twenty-first century in articulation), LeZotte shows that the heartfelt need for Deaf culture, solidarity, and belonging is something both historical and contemporary.

From the November/December 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Deirdre Baker
Deirdre F. Baker
Deirdre F. Baker, a reviewer for The Horn Book Magazine and the Toronto Star, teaches children’s literature at the University of Toronto. The author of Becca at Sea (Groundwood), she is currently at work on a sequel—written in the past tense.

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