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The Words in My Hands

Interest Age: 13–16
Grade: 7–11
Reading Level: Common Core Correlations
CCSS.ELA-Literacy Strand-Reading literature: RL.8.1,2,3,4,5,6,9

Reading Level: Lexile HL750L
Hardcover : 9781773215280, 388 pages, November 2021 , 9.0" x 6.0"
Paperback : 9781773215297, 388 pages, November 2021 , 9.00" x 6.00"
: 9781773217383, April 2022 Ebook (EPUB) : 9781773215303, November 2021


“Anyone who is dDeaf . . . will immediately feel a connection and a sense of belonging while reading Asphyxia's book.” —Stacy Abrams, founder of the #WhyISign campaign Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award for Teens 2021 • A Kirkus Best Book of 2021

Part coming of age, part call to action, this fast-paced novel about a Deaf teenager by a Deaf author is a unique and inspiring exploration of what it means to belong.

Smart, artistic, and independent, sixteen year old Piper is tired of trying to conform. Her mom wants her to be “normal,” to pass as hearing, to get a good job. But in a time of food scarcity, environmental collapse, and political corruption, Piper has other things on her mind—like survival.

Piper has always been told that she needs to compensate for her Deafness in a world made for those who can hear. But when she meets Marley, a new world opens up—one where Deafness is something to celebrate, and where resilience means taking action, building a com-munity, and believing in something better.

Published to rave reviews as Future Girl in Australia (Allen & Unwin, Sept. 2020), this empowering, unforgettable story is told through a visual extravaganza of text, paint, collage, and drawings. Set in an ominously prescient near future, The Words in My Hands is very much a novel for our turbulent times.


“Brilliantly imaginative, totally immersive—Asphyxia tilts the world sideways and invites you to see what was always there. Don’t miss this book.”

- Amie Kaufman, New York Times bestselling author of Illuminae

“Asphyxia's work is brilliant: a deep original insight, and a book that everyone should read.”

- Jackie French

“A life-changing book for young Deaf and disabled people . . . of personal growth and pride— demonstrating the importance of the #OwnVoices movement.”

- Carly Findlay, OAM (Medal of the Order of Australia)

“[C]onfronts the challenges ahead of us and will open minds and hearts to the possibility of other worlds.”

- Sean Williams

“I really enjoyed this gorgeous book and related to so many things. That is rare. It has inspired me to write down my experiences and to do more visual art. The story’s really strong, with such a nice-feeling ending, and I loved the note to readers at the end—it gave me goosebumps. I can't wait for the world to read [THE WORDS IN MY HANDS].”

- Anna Seymour, Deaf dancer, actress, and teacher

“Asphyxia has achieved something extraordinary here. THE WORDS IN MY HANDS is not just an immersive story of Piper McBride’s coming-of-age. It is not just a call to action in the face of hunger and environmental destruction. Asphyxia turns the reader into a seed, planting them in her dazzlingly fertile garden of a book, and as the reader nestles deeper into the soil of Piper’s journey from timid girl to a vigorous fighter who embraces her Deaf self, the reader emerges from the book completely transformed, full of exhilarating growth, a flower as gorgeous and healthy as any that Piper grows.”

- Adam Pottle, author of The Black Drum and Voice: On Writing with Deafness

“A distressingly insightful vision of the future that also offers warmth and hope.”

- Kirkus Reviews, *starred review, 09/15/21

“Everything about this book is brilliant . . . I highly recommend THE WORDS IN MY HANDS for its representation, the storyline, character development and the beautiful art journal style and illustrations. Most books offer the reader one thing, whether it’s a good story or information, and this one is giving you multiple things in one.”

- Just Geeking By, 09/11/21

“A standout must-read for teens and adults.”

- School Library Journal, *starred review, 10/21

“A powerful tale of becoming.”

- CM Reviews, 09/17/21

“Asphyxia, herself Deaf and an artist, has done an outstanding job of relating the experience of being Deaf in this near-future story of a young woman grappling with her identity and finding her voice. The authenticity of this experience and that of being a teen navigating changing friendships and first love make Piper a relatable protagonist whose inner strength will inspire.”

- Booklist, *starred review, 11/01/21

“A blend of coming-of-age story, call to action, and a tale of wanting to belong, this title encapsulates feelings that all teenagers can relate to and understand.”

- School Library Connection, 11/21

“Anyone who is dDeaf, regardless of their place in the dDeaf community, will immediately feel a connection and a sense of belonging while reading Asphyxia's book. There is a place for all of us in the dDeaf community.”

- Stacy Abrams, founder of the #WhyISign campaign