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Of Sound Mind

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  698 Ratings  ·  106 Reviews
A poignant novel partially set in a world of silence

High school senior Theo is fluent in two languages: spoken English and sign. His parents and brother, Jeremy, are deaf, but Theo can hear, which has over the years cast him in the role of interpreter for his family. Unfortunately, it's not a welcome duty, especially in the case of his mother, Palma. She is a successful sc
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 2nd 2004 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (first published September 24th 2001)
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I read this as pure bibliotherapy. I had surgery for a CI this week and this book is perfect for why I do NOT want to be deaf. Theo is the one hearing person in his family of two parents, and a younger brother. He is a senior and is tired of being the free interpreter at everything in his family. His dad tries hard....too not use Theo's interpretation skills but his mother gleefully uses the skills. She clearly plans on using his skills forever, depriving him literally of a life for o ...more
Caitlin L
Feb 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Started this a week ago for my sign language class, omg it's soooo good! Totally not what I expected and I loved it <3
Jun 13, 2013 rated it did not like it
I am abandoning this book. As a bilingual person and a teacher of bilingual students, I found the beginning of the book intriguing. I can relate to the unfairness of children finding it necessary to translate for adults and could feel Theo's internal struggles. I have always wanted to learn ASL, which was one of the reasons I was drawn to this book.

I quickly became disillusioned with the book, however, due to the portrayal of women, especially Theo's mother, Palma. I find her portrayal unfair a
Rebecca McNutt
Nov 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was really well-written and it takes a different approach and style. The story also raises awareness of what being a deaf teenager is like, and honestly Theo is just like any other kid, dreading the future and finding himself facing adult decisions for the first time. Already an interpreter for most of his family, on top of that he's a high school senior and it won't be long before he goes off to college or university.
Miriam Salomon
Oct 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I totally loved this book. Theo is not a normal high school senior. His entire family is deaf. He’s dedicated to his family, to take care of them and to always being there to help them even if this might affect his future. He loves his family but wants to go to college and go away from home at the same time. This becomes a really hard decision until he meets this girl who totally changes his mind and helps him realize that can do both things at the same time, love and take care of his family and ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Me for

For Theo, dealing with deafness is simply a way of life. Being the only hearing person in a family that includes a deaf father, deaf mother, and deaf younger brother has taken it's toll on Theo--he doesn't have his own life, not really, since he's always dealing with interpreting for his family. His mother, Palma, is a famous sculptor, and she depends on Theo to make her phone calls, deal with galleries, and basically do anything and everything that she asks. H
Nov 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Personal Response:
I liked this book because it was about a boy whose family depended on him to survive. I feel like this sometimes because I have to make sure no one is hurting my sister. So I can relate to him.

The book is about a boy in high school who wants to go off to MIT. He is really good at math but because his parents are both deaf and need him to help them communicate he doesn't think he will be able to go. His mom leans on him the most, she is a sculptor and she want him to do ev
Emma Donovan
Nov 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
This past month, I read of sound mind by Jean Ferris. The book was an insightful look into the world of children with deaf parents or CODAs. As a sign language student, it is important to keep this struggle of living in both the hearing and deaf world in mind as I continue to study deaf culture.

Though Of Sound Mind was not the best written book I've ever read, The plot was still unique and interesting and kept me intrigued. The book also showed the reader how people in deaf cultures feel about
Oct 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
This book isn't so much about being deaf or having deaf parents while being hearing, so much as it is about the deeper themes of belonging, being needed, and responsibility to yourself vs. your family. I liked that the author put the main character, Theo in a caregiving role, since statistically it is the female members of a family who step up to fill that role. It left me with a happy feeling at the end, without being too sappy or unrealistic. I read it in about 4 hours and felt satisfied. It a ...more
Diane Mueller
Feb 03, 2009 rated it liked it
Since I sign and I have cousins who are hearing impaired I was draw to this book. One of my dearest friend's daughter told me how hard it was growing up signing for her mother all the time. She loved her mother but felt she had missed her childhood, I never could fully understand how hard it was for her. I thought her mother was the greatest. Reading this book opens my eyes a bit to being a hearing child from a deaf family. I know my friend's daughter told me of having to sign for her mother at ...more
Kalyn Schwartz
Nov 26, 2012 rated it liked it
In the beginning this book had my attention and made me want to read more. It interested me because of the sign language in the story. Even though Theo goes through life with a different view because of his parents being deaf, he still faces the reality all teenagers face. Especially when it comes to being in love and pursuing your dreams. When things get tough, he doesn't give up though, which I admired. I recommend this book to teenagers, they can relate to the story line with Theo.
Mar 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
I've owned this book for 10 years and it's still as great as it was the first time I read it. I think I read this once a year :)
Cara Salazar
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
The book, Of Sound Mind by Jean Ferris, was an interesting realistic fiction about the life of a teenager with a deaf family. This book was recommended to me by a couple of friends, and after reading it I can see why this book was highly regarded by my friends. Upon starting the book, I found it to be very interesting. As the book progressed and the storyline became more intricate my interest in the book also grew. However, the book also felt a bit cluttered with needless information. For exampl ...more
Jackson Allen
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
Of Sound mind is a book about friendships,heartbreaks,adventure,and a little bit of drama. The main character Theo Henry which the story is told through and his friend Ivy are both seniors in High School. They are your two average Joes. Theo, the anti social nerd who loves math, and dreams to go to MIT. Ivy is the creative girl who loves to cook and art. I always found it funny how two kids who are so different become such good friends. Well there is one thing about Theo, and Ivy have in common ...more
Larry Dragani
Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing

Of Sound Mind which was published in 2001 and is a excellent book. It was a quick read about 200 pages that I ended up reading in a day because, I could not put the book down. I recommend it to everyone, especially people that are in high school or are affected by deafness. This book is very useful and could be used to help many problems if you have them. This book is based around Theo, a high school senior who is fluent in both sign language and English. His whole family is deaf except him and
Macy S
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
This is one of the worst books I’ve ever read. The saving grace of this book is Thomas and his gentle, fatherly heart who had a rough past, and Jeremy, who is really just innocent and adorable. The characters are SO EDGY I physically cringed a few times. The writing poorly switched between third- and first-person points of views. I would highly recommend NOT reading this book if you want an account on what it’s like to be a hearing teenager with a Deaf family. I would recommend Marlee Matlin’s a ...more
Sydney Hicks
Apr 09, 2018 rated it liked it
This book gave me a new view on CODAs (someone who is an interpreter but isn't licenced). Theo is the only hearing peraon in his family of four, his family relies on him for most means of communication. Theo's mom, Palma, constantly bothers Theo to make things perfect and up to her needs for her sculpture galleries. Theo's father, Thomas, tries so hard to not use Theo's abilities to communicate with both the hearing and deaf world. He wants Theo to live his life as a kid and not as an interprete ...more
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Theo has always been the connection between his family and the outside world. Polina and Thomas (his parents) and younger brother Jeremy are all deaf. From an early age, Theo has shouldered adult responsibilities for his self-indulgent and spoiled mother and taken care of Jeremy. It has become a suffocating existence. Then he meets Ivy, who has a deaf father and a fresh perspective. As he tries to work through his feelings for Ivy and his family, Theo is uncertain and unbalanced. But when his fa ...more
This book is very hard to rate. I liked a lot of the characters, but the way Deafness was portrayed bothered me. The main character Theo mentioned he wanted to give the gift of hearing to his brother Jeremy. I have a strong feeling many of my deaf friends would be offended by this book. I'm not going to recommend this book to them, but it does have good insights for people who are unfamiliar with the deaf community. This story also takes place before text message, video phone, easy interpreter a ...more
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Of Sound Mind by Jean Fearris. Its a good book. Its about Theo who trys to make the right decison to be able to acomplish his dreams in life while trying to take of his family that is Deaf.
I like how Theo over comes his obstacles through out the book. I recommend this book to people who have a hard time over comeing life obstacles, and this book will help people over come obstacles out through their life.
valerie :)
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
it was actually a good book. better than what i expected it to be when i first got it. my asl teacher actually assigned this book to me for summer reading and i thought it would be a terrible, boring book, but it was good.
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really like this book for my intermediate ELL students who feel torn between helping their families and moving off to follow their own dreams. It is a hit with both the boys and girls in my class, which is rare.
Mar 06, 2017 rated it liked it
it was a good book, i would recommend it as a family book not as a personal book.
Colin Alexiou
Oct 31, 2016 rated it liked it
The book "Of Sound Mind" gives you a new perspective on deaf family's and gives you some insight on deaf culture. This fictional story is about a hearing boy in his senior year of high school named Theo and the struggles he goes through with his deaf family and all the responsibility's that hes given. In spite of all of this he tries to balance his social life and love life. The author uses tons of figurative language in this novel such as foreshadowing, Similes, and imagery. She seemed to use a ...more
Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The title of this book is Of Sound Mind. It is a realistic fiction book. It has 215 pages. The author is Jean Ferris. The main character is Theo. He teenager in high school. Theo's family is deaf. However for some reason or another Theo is not. Theo is relied on by his family to be their helper. Theo after all is a young teenager and had a life also. Everyone in his family doesn't seem to notice that except for his father Thomas. Thomas prefers not to use Theo as a recourse. Theo's life is about ...more
May 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Theo's world revolves, unlike many of his high school peers, not around himself but around the other three members of his family, all of whom are deaf. As the only hearing member of his family, he is fluent in ASL and spends most of his time as his mother's assistant. She is a celebrated artist and non-stop prima donna. His father goes to the opposite extreme and tries to do everything on his own, which can be just as worrying. Theo struggles not only with his forced role as right hand to hi
Nov 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Personnel response: Of Sound Mind has a lot of close feelings of the real life we now live in. The book relates in how we today in America talk and respond to each other in so many ways. I loved reading this book because at first I thought it was all going to be fictional based book, but then the real life events started to kick in and I love when books switch up their genres. In my own opinion there are a lot of mixed emotions in this book and that's what I liked about the book, because the onl ...more
Apr 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: modern-bio
This book is incredibly difficult for me to rate. I gave it four stars solely because it deals with being a hearing child in a Deaf family. Despite ASL being the second most used language in the United States, there is a decided lack of fiction out there about ASL and Deaf culture. However, that is the sole reason I gave it four stars. Had this book dealt with a different subject matter, I probably would have docked two stars.

The story is about a 17 year old hearing boy, Theo, and his role in h
Sarah Randall
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
In this novel, the author’s usage of literary devices include foreshadowing, similes/metaphors, and diction. Considering these techniques, the overall story was a mess. From the beginning of the story, I knew how it would end; this was a poor misuse of foreshadowing. In my opinion, it’s difficult to appreciate a novel if it’s too predictable. Additionally, I thought the similes and metaphors used were a bit childish. For example, “She carried on like a banshee every time he got a better job and ...more
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What's the Name o...: Teenager whose parents are deaf [s] 3 28 Mar 26, 2013 07:20PM  
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This author is not afraid to tackle difficult subjects: living with a deaf parent (Of Sound Mind), facing the consequences of a criminal act (Bad), or questioning one's sexuality (Eight Seconds). But Jean Ferris is also adept at writing comedy, historical fiction, and romance. What's most interesting is that she didn't publish her first novel until she was in her mid-40s. Yet she's never forgotten ...more
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