BBAW - Forgotten Treasure: Hurt Go Happy

Welcome back to everyone celebrating Book Blogger Appreciation Week.  I'm feeling pretty appreciated and I hope all of you are too!  :)  Today's theme is Forgotten Treasure and the goal is to highlight a book that has not gotten much buzz from book bloggers.  I was really tempted to use this post to share more about Maid of Murder or The Muse of Edouard Manet, but since I've already blogged about both those books and interviewed their awesome authors (with thanks again to the lovely Ms. Flower and the always entertaining Mr. Clifford) - I thought I would pull a treasure from my pre-blogging days and highlight a book that, in my opinion, never got the spotlight it deserves.  My Forgotten Treasure is the book Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby.

Thirteen year old Joanne "Joey" Willis has been deaf since the age of six. Her mother Ruth wants her to function in the hearing world by reading lips and adapting to school life with special sound monitors, but despite Ruth's efforts, Joey struggles to fit in and feels isolated from her classmates as well as her family.

Things change when Joey meets Dr. Charles Mansell (Charlie) and his baby chimpanzee Sukari who both speak American Sign Language. Charlie begins to teach Joey ASL, opening up a whole new world of communication for her - against her mother's wishes. Sukari and Joey form a unique bond but when Charlie's situation changes, it is up to Joey to speak up for Sukari and protect the life of her new found friend.

Hurt Go Happy is a captivating and believable novel, with details based on true events. The characters are richly drawn and ready to pull readers in from the very first chapter. Ginny Rorby expertly describes problems involving the culture clash between deaf and hearing people and also weaves several other serious issues into her story, including: animal rights, teen friendships, fitting in at school, family conflicts, homelessness, and abuse. Highly emotional and overwhelmingly powerful, Hurt Go Happy is an amazingly well written book.
I must admit, the cover first drew me to this book.  I love chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and apes and monkeys of all sorts.  But the title and book description took it from an eye-catcher to a must purchase.  I took a sign language class in college; the syntax of the title reminded me of ASL structure, and I was thrilled to know that the book also dealt with deaf culture, a subject that I learned a lot about in school but rarely encounter in YA novels.  I actually ended up reading this one as a read aloud with my husband (who shares my fondness for Great Apes) but neither of us was expecting the powerful, emotional, and amazing story we discovered.  I can't say enough good things about this book - though perhaps I should warn that it may jerk out some tears - so I will just say, emphatically, if you have not already done so: Read this book!  Blog about this book!  Tell others about this wonderful book! 

(If you're one of few that's already encountered Rorby's great work, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it too!)

10 Response to "BBAW - Forgotten Treasure: Hurt Go Happy"

  1. Elizabeth says:
    September 16, 2010 at 5:37 PM

    That sounds very interesting. I have never taken an ASL course, but have always been fascinated and appreciative of it, particularly with regard to it being taught to primates. Cool. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Eva says:
    September 16, 2010 at 6:30 PM

    This isn't the type of book I usually read, but you make it sound irresistable! :)

  3. Chachic says:
    September 16, 2010 at 7:28 PM

    This book has such an interesting premise! I've never read a book about sign language before and I'm curious. Adding it to my TBR.

  4. Michelle (my books. my life.) says:
    September 16, 2010 at 8:34 PM

    I must read this book immediately.

  5. lisa :) says:
    September 16, 2010 at 9:02 PM

    Oh thanks everyone! Definitely stop back and tell me what you think! It's been years since I read it and it's still a book that I think a lot about and reflect upon. The best ones always do stick with you, right?

  6. Megan says:
    September 16, 2010 at 10:43 PM

    This probably isn't one I would pick up based on the cover alone, but, like Eva said, you do make it sound irresistable! It's on the wish list now! :)

  7. S. Krishna says:
    September 17, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    This sounds really, really interesting - thanks so much for the recommendation!

  8. Ginny Rorby says:
    September 20, 2010 at 12:09 PM

    Dear Lisa,
    I get Google Alerts whenever someone mentions Hurt Go Happy. I just wanted to write and thank you for the kind words. Someone recently called HGH my 'opus,' since I spent 18 years researching it, writing it, giving up on it, then trying again. A more thorough history of the process and the facts behind the story, are on my website, if anyone is interested. Thank you again, Ginny Rorby

  9. lisa :) says:
    September 20, 2010 at 9:55 PM

    Hi Ms. Rorby!
    Thank you so much for noticing and commenting on my post, and thank you for writing this wonderful book. The time and effort you spent researching and developing the book are certainly evident in the final product - and thank you for not giving up on it. I remember reading the background information on your blog when I first finished Hurt Go Happy because I had to know more about the true story that Sukari's tale was based on. I have not yet read your other novels, but I definitely plan to since I so enjoy your writing!

    (For those that would also like to read it, here's a link to Ms. Rorby's website: http://www.ginnyrorby.com/Ginny_Rorby/Home.html )

    Thanks again for dropping by! lisa :)

  10. Michelle (my books. my life.) says:
    October 13, 2010 at 7:51 AM

    I read this book over the weekend. Just posted my thoughts today if you're curious (http://bit.ly/boFwl6). Thanks so much for the recommendation.

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