CECH Library Spotlight: Give Me a Sign by Anna Sortino

CECH Spotlight highlights recommended books in the the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) Library.

This book was purchased with funding provided by a 2024 CECH Diversity Grant and selected using the Framework for Selecting Children’s Literature With d/Deaf Representation created by Emma Kist’s ASL 2003 students.

Give Me a Sign / written by Anna Sortino (2023)

Anna Sortino’s summer camp contemporary romance Give Me a Sign will pull at your heartstrings the entire read, while also leaving you giddy with what is to come next. 

This novel follows Lilah, a seventeen-year-old who happens to be deaf in one ear. All her life, her parents encouraged her along the oral route, where she got hearing aids and took years of speech classes to blend in with those around her. To Lilah, the only time she’s ever felt seen is when she attended Camp Gray Wolf, a summer camp for the Deaf and Blind. So, when she gets the opportunity to be a junior counselor for the upcoming summer, Lilah can’t say no. Throughout the summer, Lilah immerses herself in Deaf* culture, American Sign Language, true friendship, and romance. But she still has some things to learn about herself, and parts of her identity to come to terms with. 

Give Me a Sign is more than just a fun, summer romance. It shines a much-needed light on the spectrum of Deafness*, the importance of accommodations, the negative aspects of having a disability, and the struggle of accepting one’s identity. One of the biggest topics that carries throughout is the idea of ‘being Deaf enough’. Lilah struggles with this as she is surrounded by people who are fluent in ASL, who are more immersed in the culture, who are from a multi-generational Deaf family. 

Early on we are introduced to Lilah’s brother, Max, who happens to have the same type of deafness, though slightly more advanced. Max acts as a foil to Lilah, being shown to prefer the oral route to Lilah’s manual preference. Max’s character helps open the discussion of hearing devices like hearing aids and cochlear implants, which are often given to young children in hopes of integrating them into the hearing world more easily. Sortino’s novel examines so many hard-hitting topics that impact the Deaf* community such as hearing people using ASL for clout or even faking disabilities when it is convenient.

There is a quote from Sortino’s author’s note that I felt extremely poignant: “I simply hope [my novel] gives readers a glance into the depth and complexities of Deaf culture, as well as an understanding of why I and so many others are proud to be Deaf”. This novel shines a light on the ups and downs of Deafness* and basks in the pride it has for the Deaf* community. 

This book is available for checkout in the CECH Library, as well as via the OhioLINK and SearchOhio lending networks.

NOTE: In alignment with the UC ASL/Deaf studies department, I use Deaf* above to include and acknowledge the different cultures and ways of being Deaf.

Review by Alice Somers, CECH Library Student Assistant | Early Childhood Education and Deaf Studies, CECH 2026