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Comment: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly. Pages and dust cover are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine is undamaged.
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Sign Language Hardcover – August 18, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


To call this affecting debut a tearjerker is an understatement.  Will Abby's story of loss and love gain popularity? Signs point to yes. (Fiction. 12 & up) - Kirkus Reviews

This is an amazing debut novel for readers who appreciate contemporary teen fiction. It is both moving and realistic, a result of the well-crafted family relationships. - Shanna Smith (VOYA)

Ackley ably balances Abby's everyday teen dilemmas with the impossible heartache of a parent's illness and death, and the hopeful ending concludes a tale that is somber but never depressing. Bridging a nice gap between Lurlene McDaniel and Sarah Dessen novels, this should appeal to fans of both.--Snow Wildsmith (Booklist)

Ackley does an amazing job of writing from that preteen perspective, and Abby's reactions to what she witnesses are spot on. Ackley does a beautiful job of showing the progression from the early to late stages of cancer, and can do the topic justice because it is so focused. - Shanyn Day (San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review)

SIGN LANGUAGE tells of a pre-teen facing her father's cancer and how it's changing her life. Previously only concerned with a crush and an annoying brother, Abby's facing her family's wrenching breakdown in the face of illness and death. Afterwards, she can't even cry: how can life go on? A fine novel of recovery evolves. - Midwest Book Review

From the Inside Flap

Twelve-year-old Abby North's first hint that something is wrong with her dad is the scar that appears on his stomach after he goes in for kidney surgery. Soon, the thing she calls "It" has a real name: cancer. Before, her biggest concerns were her annoying brother, the crush unaware of her existence, and her changing feelings for her best friend, Spence, the boy across the street. Now, her mother cries in the shower, her father is exhausted, and nothing is normal anymore. Amy Ackley's impressive debut, winner of the first Amazon Breakthrough YA Novel Award, is wrenching, heartbreaking, and utterly true.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 820L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers (August 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670013188
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670013180
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,739,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
Check out more reviews at BookstotheSky.com

(I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.)

So it took me awhile to decide what I even wanted to rate this book. It was great but it wasn't bad. It was good and I enjoyed reading it, but I was just unsure. The beginning of the book was a little slow and it wasn't until the last 100 pages or so that I was really into it!

The main character Abby is dealing with a lot of things for a girl her age; father dying, mother grieving, changing feelings for her best friend and just growing up in general. I haven't been in her situation so I don't know how I would have handled it. But she handled it in her own way. Instead of openly grieving her father's death she kept everything bottled up inside and pushed everyone away for fear of losing them.

Sign Language is a good coming to age novel, that's for sure. It starts off with Abby at 12 years old and just learning about her father's illness. And it ends with her at 15 and learning to cope and deal with all the changes and finally opening herself up to her family and Spence.

Oh Spence, he was such an adorable kid. I wish when I was a kid I would have known a boy this sweet. Abby takes advantage of Spence's kindness for awhile, which really broke my heart. But eventually she saw the err in her ways. Thank goodness! That poor boy needed a break!(less)
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Format: Hardcover
Have you ever had that feeling where you know that something's wrong? That there's something out of place? You might not be able to put a finger on what exactly, but you have a creeping feeling that something is terribly wrong. Instead of investigating further, you choose to ignore it. Act like whatever it is isn't there. Maybe then it will go away, stop bothering you, and you'll forget that there was anything there in the first place. What if... it doesn't disappear? It stays right where it is, slowly growing and becoming more and more horrible with all of the apathy you have shown it. But no one bothers to tell you what's wrong, and you choose to look the other way. Until it becomes so unbearable that it twists your whole life out of control. Suddenly, you wonder how you could have ever missed it.

This is exactly what young, twelve-year-old Abby North goes through. She had no idea that anything was wrong. How could she, when the problems that claimed her attention were the fact that her long-time crush didn't know she existed, her older brother was unbearable, and she had no idea how to cope with growing up and the changes that come with it. If she could get through these, then Abby would be able to conquer anything. Well... maybe anything except cancer, that is.

Abby had been absolutely oblivious to the fact that her father was sick with cancer. All she knew was that he wasn't feeling good, but the visits to the doctor were going to make him all better. Or so everyone thought. It turns out that the doctors couldn't do anything for Abby's father. His condition is suddenly spiraling downward, taking young Abby and her entire family with him.

Abby's father is trying so hard to overcome his illness, but is he strong enough?
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Format: Kindle Edition
Amy Ackley's Sign Language is the story of Abby whose father has cancer. Abby wasn't aware that anything was seriously wrong with her father except that it was taking him some time to recover from surgery. Abby's life begins to drastically change as her father is home resting all the time and her mother is afraid to leave his side.

Sign Language is a beautiful and heartbreaking story about loss and life. Abby's biggest concern used to be how to get the attention of her crush but, her life changes when her father gets sick. It is evident from the beginning how much Abby loves and adores her father. As he begins to die, Abby handles it all in her own way. Abby is not only losing her father though, her mother won't leave the house or her father's side and cries all time. Then there is Abby's sweet and loyal best friend Spence who tries to help her along the way.

Sign Language had me in tears several times throughout the story. I was immediately captivated by Abby and her family's story. Ackley expertly handles the topic of loss and grief. I enjoyed that the story spans over a couple of years without ever feeling rushed. The reader can see how much Abby grows and how she continues to handle it all. The book also has moments though that make the reader smile and hopeful. I completely loved the ending and it was definitely my favorite part of the book. I recommend Sign Language, it is an excellent story about growing up.

*A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review
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Format: Hardcover
Actual Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars

I'm kicking myself because this book sat on my review list for far too long. I missed out on enjoying this story and knowing these characters for months. Maybe the subject matter sub-consciously deterred me. I recently lost my father to lung cancer and its various complications. I know what it's like to watch someone choke on death. To deteriorate to the point that they are unrecognizable as the person they once were. It's heart breaking. It's painful. And so is Amy Ackley's debut, Sign Language.

I found myself bawling halfway through, unable to control my tears. Ackley writes with such authenticity. I could feel Abby's emotions. Abby's grief was my grief. Abby's inability to accept her father's death. Her anger at his passing. Her anger at her mother, at the world. Every emotion is detailed beautifully.

To complicate matters further, her changing relationship with her best friend Spence, leaves her confused and terrified. She wants to be with him, but she's not sure her father would have approved. And even if he would have, what if something happens to Spence? What if she somehow lost the one person who could make the pain go away? Abby's not sure she can withstand the heartache.

I have to say that I absolutely adored Spence. He's too sweet for words. He's always there for Abby, providing support, kindness, friendship, basically whatever she needs, unconditionally. And with lines like this: "I wanted to be with you today because, you know, I thought you might need someone. And if you needed someone, I wanted you to need me." How could I not love him?

I tore through this one like it was going to disappear if I quit reading, staying up almost until it was time to get up for work the next day.
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