Review: Signs of Attraction by Laura Brown

Reviewed by Joanna

Carli’s hearing aid gives out in the middle of class at college. Worst case scenario, as there’s no replacement batteries in her bag. She’s floundering, unable to hear the professor or lip read due to his unfortunate moustache. Used to hiding her hearing loss, Carli can’t manage, and she has no idea how she’s going to cope with the class. Even with the hearing aids she was struggling.

Ah, luckily a handsome man appears, having noticed Carli’s plight. A knight in shining armor, Reed teaches deaf kids, and though he doesn’t use hearing aids himself, he frequently has to help the kids with theirs, so he carries batteries at all times.

Carli is enamored and aflutter.

Reed (dual point of view) likes the look of Carli too and wants to help her further. He gets her set up with support for the class then persuades her to learn sign language, which being deaf since birth, he’s fluent in. Reed’s world is a revelation to Carli. He introduces her to the deaf community and pretty soon they are in deep with one another.

Carli stared at her feet, conversational avoidance behavior. If only she knew we were communicating just fine. Communication didn’t have to be verbal. It could be visual or physical. To prove it, I pointed to the door, and she fell into step beside me. Steps have a rhythm, a poetry to the motion. Some are fast and hurried, in an oh-shit-I’m-late type of scenario. Others are slow and at ease, a Sunday don’t-have-a-care-in-the-world motto. Carli’s steps faltered every few feet. Not in a comic falling-over way. No, her faltered steps indicated a hesitance, an insecurity.

However Reed was burned by a previous relationship which makes him hesitant. I didn’t completely understand this – a girl accused him of rape but retracted the accusation as, because he was deaf, she’d shouted encouragement a lot so his nosy housemates were able to hear – an unnecessary and off-track story line, I felt. Also, Carli has family issues which are awful and explain why she never had any support for her hearing problem.

There’s another layer in that Reed is adopted. He has a great mum but sadly lost his dad, plus a letter from his birth family burns a hole in his pocket and he can’t bring himself to open the envelope. Lots of angst overlaying this tale.

The opening of this story is easy to like. The characters are well drawn, particularly Reed, and the sweet way a deaf boy and a girl who can’t sign find ways to communicate together was lovely to read. I would have enjoyed more of the chemistry building, like let’s work out how to talk about xyz, or how do you say these naughty things before we do them type scenes. Carli seemed to bond with Reed’s busybody friends as she did him, and I’d have liked them to have been alone together doing more and sharing experiences.

Then there were a few occasions in the book where I felt scenes and events were shortcut and I wasn’t entirely sure what had just happened, and why the characters were behaving the way they were.

Example, Carli gets hurt, but the extent of this wasn’t clear. Reed’s mother is a nurse and he sends her a picture of the medical report. It would’ve been great as the reader to get insight into that prognosis as it goes on to be a major part of the plot. Plus the obvious actions that should’ve been taken after this – call the police, boyfriend revenge etc weren’t discussed.

Similarly, later on there’s a dramatic scene with a member of Carli’s family which concluded prematurely and with just a single line to summarize what happened next. I felt I was missing out and some heavy editing had taken out chunks of emotion and explanation. In the first half where this happened, it didn’t bother me too much, but the second half lost some clarity because of it and I didn’t enjoy this side of the tale so much either.

Carli’s issues and depression dragged a bit and I wanted her to sort herself out and the tale to focus back on the relationship again. Their being together wasn’t as strong as it could be, to pull the story along.

The author added a note to the end of the book to explain that the story was partially autobiographical, and that Carli’s experience in being hard of hearing represented her own. That explains the immersive level of detail in the story.

My favorite part? Reed was a lovely hero and he made the book.

Rating: C+

Click to purchase: Amazon

Signs of Attraction
by Laura Brown
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Publisher: Avon Impulse

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