Show Me a Sign
Chapter one of SHOW ME A SIGN, a young adult novel by newcomer Susan Miura, begins like this:
“So there’s this girl.
I know, there’s always a girl, but Haylie’s different. Really. She has this wavy hair that drapes down her back and sways like summer wheat. Wouldn’t say that to my friends, though. She’d be ‘Wheat Girl’ from that point on.”
Sounds like something a teenage boy would say, right? Well, Nathan Bolivia is a normal teenage boy with a crush on a pretty girl. However, Haylie is no ordinary girl, and not just because of her summer-wheat-draping hair. Haylie is deaf. But that isn’t an issue for Nathan, who attends school with several hearing-impaired classmates. All that matters is that Haylie agrees to go out for pizza with him, so he can get to know her better. Just when Haylie agrees, as Nathan’s luck would have it, she disappears.
"The plot is clever, with plenty of suspense and mystery to go around. Combined with crisp dialogue and engaging characters, SHOW ME A SIGN is a fast-paced, delightful read for both boys and girls alike."
Nathan quickly becomes the prime suspect, all because of a stupid text sent from his cell phone that also mysteriously disappeared and somehow ended up in police custody. Now Nathan and his cell phone are being held at the police station, and he is being interrogated like a criminal. By the time he is released and sent home with his parents, it’s obvious that the police are convinced he is guilty. Now Nathan feels it’s up to him to prove his innocence. But this isn’t a one-man job, so he enlists a little help from his British best friend, Alec.
Alec is reluctant to play amateur sleuth, at first insisting they leave the investigating to the professionals. But Nathan’s freedom is at stake, so Alec finally agrees to help. However, they soon realize that solving this mystery and bringing Haylie home is more than either of them bargained for, and find themselves in the middle of a sinister plot. The question is whether they will be able to rescue Haylie from her kidnappers before the abductors get to them.
From the opening page, Miura’s talent is clear. Her writing style is smart, fresh and witty, and she has teenagers pegged to a T. Though mostly told from Nathan’s point of view, readers are also treated to a few chapters from Haylie’s perspective, and those scenes superbly convey detail and emotion as observed through the eyes of a deaf girl. Haylie’s “disability” has nothing on her. She is tough, feisty and determined --- the ultimate heroine. Likewise, Nathan is an endearing young hero, in his persistent quest to find his crush. The dialogue between him and Alec shines, with many fun British phrases and sarcastic, yet playful, jabs --- typical of teenage guys in general.
The plot is clever, with plenty of suspense and mystery to go around. Combined with crisp dialogue and engaging characters, SHOW ME A SIGN is a fast-paced, delightful read for both boys and girls alike.
One note worth mentioning: Although not a prominent theme in this book, at one point, human trafficking is brought to attention. This is an issue that the author is passionate about, and half of the royalties from SHOW ME A SIGN will be donated to one of the many organizations working to rescue and rehabilitate victims of human trafficking.
Miura is definitely a fresh addition to Christian young adult fiction, and I look forward to seeing more from this talented author.
Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on January 23, 2014