Maya’s Letter Essay #3: Tone Deaf

Recently, I finished reading Tone Deaf, a 276 page realistic fiction book, written by Olivia Rivers. Olivia Rivers is an author of YA fiction, yet also a college student attending school in Northern California. Along with Tone Deaf, she’s written two other fantasy books: Frost Fire and Counting Shadows. I decided to read Tone Deaf because after scouring through many library shelves, I finally found a book that looked interesting, and after reading the inside cover, I knew I would enjoy it.

In the book, Tone Deaf, the main character is a deaf girl named Ali, who is stuck living with her abusive father, and all she wants is to get out of there. When going to a concert with her best friend, she accidentally gets chosen for a tour with the band’s lead singer, Jace. He is rude to her at first, but they turn out to have some big similarities that bring them together. Jace asks Ali if she would like to hide in their tour bus with him. Being so desperate to leave her abusive father, she agrees. Ali and Jace grow on each other and soon become more than just acquaintances.

I like how the author added the aspect of Ali being deaf. It certainly makes the story more interesting, along with adding a more meaningful aspect to to the book. Ali is abused by her father because she is deaf and “not good enough”. In the book, Ali applies to a school just for the deaf, and she gets in, but her father won’t let her go. He thinks that a disability is something that makes you lower than everyone else, not just different. Her father hits her to get out anger, like she is a disposable object. Ali has planned her whole life to escape and go live somewhere else, and when Jace offers her an opportunity, she jumps on it.

I was surprised when we first found out that Jace could sign. He had originally been so rude to Ali when he first met her and found out he was deaf. We then later find out it was because his mother, who was deaf, had died on that day a couple of years back. Suddenly meeting someone with the same condition as his deceased mother on her death date was such a surprise that he completely blew her off, and I get it. I wouldn’t want to spend time with a person that reminded me of my dead mother; it would feel like torture, having a constant reminder of her following you around.

In certain ways, this story reminds me of a fairy tale, mainly because the main character is stuck in a hard situation at the beginning, goes through a journey, and eventually finds her “Prince Charming”, the bad guy is killed or locked away and they live happily ever after. This is probably why I enjoyed this book a lot. I have loved fairy tales since I was a kid, and I always enjoy happy endings, which leads me to believe that many other people like they too. This “fairy tale” story format is a profound way to structure a book, causing it to appeal to many and bring them joy when they reach the ending of the novel.

One passage in the book that I particularly was intrigued by was when Ali wakes up in the RV after the first night she stays there, and she suddenly remembers why she’s there. Olivia Rivers writes:

Then it hits me:

The concert. Tone Deaf. Running away. Jace.

A sudden burst of anxiety hits me, and my chest feels impossibly tight as the reality of my situation strikes me. I’m on the run with a guy who’s practically a stranger. And if that’s not bad enough, any minute now my dad is going to be figuring out that I’m gone, and he’s not going to give up on finding me”(110-111).

This passage intrigued me because it had so much author’s craft in it. One example is the short sentences at the beginning of the passage. They cause a suspenseful mood and really grab you and pull you into the book. Another example of author’s craft is personification of the burst of anxiety and her chest. Using personification in books really brings them to life, and enhances the experience of reading a good book.

Overall, I would rate this book a 8 out of ten. It was a good book, and I glad I read it.

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6 thoughts on “Maya’s Letter Essay #3: Tone Deaf

  1. Dear Maya,
    I really enjoyed reading your letter essay! I thought that this sounded like a really interesting book and definitely something I am going to read. My favorite part was how you said that this book reminded you of a fairy tale. I thought that this was really creative and something that I wouldn’t have noticed. One thing I would suggest is to add quotations around the passage that you included. Overall, your letter essay was really good and I enjoyed reading it.


  2. Dear Maya,

    Thank you for sharing you letter-essay! I really enjoyed reading it. I think you wrote a really good summary that was easy to understand. It sounds like a really good book! I also think you chose a perfect passage to quote because it really showed the character’s internal struggle with her decision to not return home. It also helped me to understand that the main character really was afraid of her father, and how afraid she’d be if he found her. I also really liked how you described the structure of the novel and how it resembled a fairytale. For future letter-essays, I would suggest ensuring that every passage has quotation marks to let the reader know that you did not write that passage. You did a really great job. I think I found my next read!

    Sydney Rodriguez

  3. Dear Maya,

    I really enjoyed your letter essay! After reading this, Tone Deaf sounds very enthralling; I will definitely have to read it. I admired how you put your own thinking into your letter essay. Like when you said, “I was surprised when…” This gave the reader a more general idea of the plot. The passage that you included was very suspenseful. I want to know what comes next! Thank you for sharing Tone Deaf. Great job!

    -Addisen Westphalen

  4. Dear Maya,
    Great job on your letter essay! After reading your piece of writing, I certainly want to read this book sometime. I really liked how you included all the things that surprised you about this novel and furthermore, how they contributed to the overall plot. Remind me to get this book from you!

    -Alexandra Popescu

  5. Dear Maya,

    I really liked your letter essay! I was interested in this before and you have made me want to read it even more. I liked how you said what you were suprised. It really gave more insight to what you thought of the book. Honestly, I did not see anything wrong with it. Very good! Thank you for sharing.

    -Ellie Stenzel

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