Will and Summer meet online and strike up a friendship based on coincidence. Summer lives in Will’s old hometown, Kettering, a small Tasmanian coastal community. Summer isn’t telling the whole truth about herself, but figures it doesn’t matter if they never see each other in person, right?
When Will returns to Kettering, the two finally meet and Summer can no longer hide her secret – she is deaf. Can Summer and Will find a way to be friends in person even though they speak a completely different language?
Talk Under Water by Kathryn Lomer
Published: July 29 2015 by UQP
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Source: ARC received from UQP
It’s sweet how the story opens with Summer and Will meeting online and bonding over their small Tasmanian hometown. In their emails, they also connect over their dreams of sailing and the story of Jessica Watson. (Jessica Watson was the youngest teenager in the world to voyage alone as a sailor.)
Although, in these early emails, I was a bit wary of how easily they exchanged specific details about their homes/locations with each other. (This is coming from a reader who has almost every social media app in existence.) Luckily, the cautious side to exchanging specific information with someone online is realistically addressed early in the story.
I really liked Summer’s perspective on sign language as a part of her everyday life. Will’s learning curve around sign language and communication is a great counterpoint journey. The reader follows Will’s thoughts as he second guesses his ignorance and assumptions about communicating with people who happen to be deaf. The descriptions of Auslan (the Australian sign language) were clear and beautifully written.
I also really liked that Will confronted his friend Cully over referring to Summer as the ‘deaf girl.’ Although I did feel sorry for Cully’s role as the third wheel in some of their adventures. On a different note, I liked Summer’s letters to her dad (who has passed on) as she navigates her future aspirations and her new friendship with Will. I also learned a bit more about the Aboriginal history of the coastal town as touched upon through Summer’s perspective.
This isn’t an action packed YA story driven by a burning source of conflict so it took me a little while to adjust to a slower pace. I enjoyed dipping into both Summer and Will’s personal thoughts as they grew together. Therefore, I’d recommend this story to pre-teens who enjoy slower paced books about friendships, sailing and small Australian towns. It’s a lovely coming of age story set in a laidback town in Tasmania.
*Thank you to UQP for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.*