Ep. 247 True Biz by Sara Nović — The Stacks Book Club (Greta Johnsen) – Transcript

For our final book club pick of 2022, Greta Johnsen is back to discuss True Biz by Sara Nović, a novel about the teachers and students of a boarding school for the Deaf. We ask who the audience is for this book, and whether the Deaf community should have to teach hearing people about themselves. We also get into the topic of consent with children and parents, especially when it comes to medical decisions.

Be sure to listen to then end of today’s episode to find out what our book club pick will be in January 2023.


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*Due to the nature of advertising placement, these timestamps are not 100% accurate.*

Traci Thomas 0:08
Welcome to The Stacks, a podcast about books and the people who read them. I’m your host Traci Thomas and today is The Stacks book club day. It’s the last one of the year and we are joined again by Greta Johnsen of WBEZ Chicago and host of the Nerdette podcast. We are talking today about True Biz by Sarah Novic, which is an engaging novel that follows a complicated and intersecting lives of a group of students at a boarding school for the death. Greta and I dig into who is the audience for this book representation and a lot more and there definitely are spoilers on today’s episode, so please make sure you’ve read the book before you listen. Or if you don’t care about spoilers, feel free to listen on. Make sure you listen to the end of today’s episode to find out what our January 2023 book club pick will be. Quick reminder, everything we talked about on each episode of the stacks can be found in the link in the show notes. If you love the stacks and want more of it had to patreon.com/the stacks to join the stacks pack you get perks like our bonus episodes, our Discord channel, our virtual book club, and right now if you join the stocks pack between now and January 31 2023, you get access to our book tracker. This thing is completely customizable. I’m obsessed with it, you can track everything you read page number, author, identity genre, and you can make it fit with your reading tastes. And it’s private so you don’t have to worry about other people liking or judging your reviews. Head to patreon.com/the stacks to join and get your reading tracker and the rest of the awesome perks. And of course a huge huge thank you to the stacks back for supporting the show all year long. I could not make it without you. Alright, now it’s time for my conversation with Greta Johnsen about the novel True Biz.

Okay, everybody, it is The Stacks book club day and I am so excited my dear friend and wonderful human and girl cheese enemy. Greta Johnsen, host of the Nerdette podcast is back in the Stacks. Greta, welcome back.

Greta Johnsen 2:07
Thank you for having me.

Traci Thomas 2:09
Thanks for coming back after I attacked you last time. I did have a grilled cheese last night for dinner in honor of you and this conversation and you know what? It was perfect. It was cheddar. Jack sourdough bread. Butter on the outside. That’s it. That’s the list. Oh,

Greta Johnsen 2:23
that’s two cheeses though. I mean, that’s still did you call it a grilled cheeses?

Traci Thomas 2:26
I called it a grilled cheese. There’s two cheeses. It’s I think cheese is plural.

Greta Johnsen 2:34
It’s like mousse. Yeah.

Traci Thomas 2:36
Okay. This okay. I had a lot of cheeses made. I don’t know about a

Greta Johnsen 2:40
number of cheeses at the store. I bought a lot of

Traci Thomas 2:43
cheese at the store.

Greta Johnsen 2:45
I don’t know I just I’m glad we’re getting into

Traci Thomas 2:50
the our book club we canceled trip is we’re doing a book club on cheese. The cheese. Cheese. Just kidding everyone. We couldn’t do that too. We read trubiz by Sara novedge. Found out that’s how you pronounce the name. Sorry last time we didn’t know for sure. But that’s correct. sernova and she is a Croatia fan because yeah, soccer yesterday they won against Japan and I saw her Instagram Twitter excited. Great. I’m actually still don’t know if she’s Croatia but I know she’s rooting for Croatia.

Greta Johnsen 3:17
Well, I learned over the weekend that this is actually her second book. She wrote another one about 10 years ago that is about a girl fleeing from Croatia I believe draw uprising, sir. Hi. Raising might not be the right word. I

Traci Thomas 3:30
did see that was her second book. I did see this was her second book. So let me tell you all what trubiz is about. And before I even do that, we are going to spoil this book today. So if you haven’t read the book and you don’t want to be spoiled, turn this off. Read the book. Come back. If you don’t care about spoilers, or you have read the book. Continue on you’re listening way.

Greta Johnsen 3:47
You’re someone else do that. Yeah. It’s just such fun to be on someone else’s show, isn’t it?

Traci Thomas 3:52
I know. Someone else you don’t have to do much. Yeah, there’s a lot Yeah, given. Okay, this is my least favorite part is explaining what the book is about. So here we go. Okay. trubiz is a novel about a death residential school. And it follows mostly the perspectives of three characters. One is February who is the headmistress who is a coder, a child of deaf adults, one in and you know, a prolific signer and an English speaker. The other person is Charlie, who is a deaf child of hearing adults who has cochlear implants, which is a big, contentious point of the book. And then the third person is Austin, who is a deaf child of a prolifically deaf family proudly deaf family first generation hearing father Yeah, generational spanning deaf family. A legacy I guess is maybe how you might put it, you know, anyways, so it’s about those three characters, and the school and drama with the school district and drama with the students as there is an Campus novel. So that’s the premise. Okay, finally. What did you think of the book? Generally? That’s where we always start. Generally,

Greta Johnsen 5:10
I loved this book, it’s definitely not perfect. I think especially, I mean, I’m sure we’ll get into things that we think could have been done differently. But in general, I loved that this is a book that is, to your point, very plati. Like, I love that there is like sex and drugs and drama in this

Traci Thomas 5:28
book, love sex and hugs, right.

Greta Johnsen 5:32
And I really loved how much I learned. I just don’t know that much about the Deaf community. And I was really grateful for the education. I don’t think that was always executed perfectly either, which I’m also sure we’ll get into. Yeah, but I think especially for me, and you, I mean, we’re both people who are obviously like, we have built careers, arguably on talking and listening. So I just found it to be really expansive, which I think is always a really exciting part about reading, right?

Traci Thomas 6:00
Yeah, yeah, I would agree. I didn’t love the book. I liked the book. I thought it was cute. It did a lot of things that I liked. I actually think from for me, I like more of the interpersonal stuff than I cared about the like learning aspect. I did learn a lot. But that part was like, always sort of like, felt after school, especially a little bit, which was sort of annoying, because I don’t know we and we will talk about that for sure. Yeah. The other thing that didn’t work for me was the ending. Yes, the ending to the ending agree? No. And I liked the book, like I read it super fast. And there’s something to be said for, especially for me, a person who reads like a lot of really dark, heavy stuff. There’s something to be said about a book that I can sit down and read in like a day and a half. Yeah, that that I just, I don’t experience that a lot. So whenever I do, I’m generally like, I read it fast, which is like a bonus for me. Yeah. So those are sort of my general thoughts about the book, I think we should start with sort of the context of the book about the learning aspect, because one of the things and then we will talk about the plot and the actual characters, but I think we should set it up that way, just because from every single person that I spoke to who has read this book, or mentioned on social media, when we announced the book club pick, almost to a person, everyone said, I learned so much. Yeah. As the first thing they said about the book. I liked it, I learned so much. Yeah. And I think that that’s really, really interesting. In a novel, because it makes me wonder about the rest of the book, like the characters and like the story, if the first thing you come to is like, I liked it, I learned a lot. I liked it. I didn’t know anything about this. So I don’t know. What do you think about that?

Greta Johnsen 7:36
Yeah, I mean, what I will say, I think there are two just I mean, I think there are two distinct ways of learning in this book, right. And one is stuff like especially February, I think, as sort of like our hearing person. She’s like straddling both worlds. And so I think there is a lot of like, more natural exposition in her assumptions. I think that works really well, I think the part that gets a little bogged down, is the Wikipedia article stuff. And then that’s where it’s like, I would have loved if that had felt a little more integrated with the plot. And there were a couple of moments where it almost was right, like, you know, Charlie is learning about these protest movements. And that’s kind of what inspires her. But right. And I, you know, I It’s funny, because I thought about like, what if that were better integrated? How heavy handed? Would that feel? I don’t know. But I think that’s the part that got tricky. And I totally understand. I mean, we mentioned this very briefly last week, the idea of audience and like, who this book is for, this book is absolutely for a hearing audience that knows very little about Deaf culture or American Sign Language. And, and I honestly, I mean, I think to that end to say, I liked it a lot, I learned a lot is probably a huge win, right? Because, yeah, you know, we could all afford to learn a lot more about, especially conversations around like the toxicity of ableism. And I thought this book did that really? Well.

Traci Thomas 8:56
I agree. I think I think that if the book, and I would, I would have loved to speak to Sarah about her intention behind writing the book and who she imagined her audience why Yeah, because I think from what I gathered, the audience was a hearing audience. And I think and I think in a lot of respects, this book is also written for the Deaf community to going hey, we have a book that exists. But I don’t think that very many people who are part of the deaf community are like I learned to talk or know, or even that this is a particularly fantastic book for them, except for that, as we know, representation does matter. And there is so little deaf representation. So any crumbs that you know, communities that have been excluded, get feels like a big win. Yeah. But I do think this book is is positioned for a hearing audience. I think that like, I have had so many conversations as a black person in America, especially in the last few years about whose job it is to educate who for sure. And is it the job of black people to educate white people and the way that this book was presented was a little jarring to me because it just felt like Sarah was like, I’m here to educate you. And I know there are black people who do that work for sure, sure. And I just don’t read a ton of that, because I’m black and I don’t need that kind of education. So for me reading this, I was sort of like, and not to conflate black things. And, you know,

Greta Johnsen 10:17
under you know, I mean, you know what, I’m

Traci Thomas 10:20
exactly. But it was jarring, like, I was a little bit like, okay, she knows what she knows, we know nothing. And we’re idiots. And she’s gonna, like, hold our hand through this. And to that extent, and also with the with the characters like Charlie and Austin and being set at a school, this book felt very ya to me, I know, there were sex and drugs. Yeah, felt ya in the same way that like Anna Kay has sex and drugs is about young people and is like, on that border between adult and, and, and high school students,

Greta Johnsen 10:54
I think this will totally work is why

Traci Thomas 10:57
it read quickly. And it had a lot of plot and a lot of development. And it had coming of age. And it had like, these educational moment, and it incorporated like technology, and all the things that I think of about as a why a book, you know, whether or not something is positioned his way or not, is really a marketing choice. I think a lot of the time now, but so I don’t know, the big question for me is like, is it Sarah Novaliches? Job to explain this to us. You know,

Greta Johnsen 11:27
yeah, totally. And I think to your point, like, it would be really interesting to talk to her about that, too. I think just to like, you know, hear what she has to say about it or see what she has to say about it, I think? I think no, the answer is it shouldn’t be anyway. But I think to your point, often that is what the experience of marginalized people is, right? I mean, I think about even my own experience as a white woman, like explaining sexual harassment at work to my dad or whatever, right? Like there is just and it’s like, sure what I appreciate it, if he like, would go out and read some books about it. Yes. However, I also know that like my own lived experience can have impact for him in a way that maybe reading a book wouldn’t in which case, like, if I’m up for it, maybe that’s a good thing, you know, right. And I’m not always up for it. And, you know, I think you’re also right that, like certain people are, like more willing to take that on than others. And I could see the argument that especially in a culture that is so marginalized, where we just barely, you know, we don’t have a lot of engagement with it, not even in pop culture, whatever, then it’s like, I could see being really proud of this. And, you know, I could see being really happy when people say they learned a lot, you know,

Traci Thomas 12:43
yeah, yeah, for sure. I don’t think that saying someone learned a lot is negative and any means I don’t know what I know what you mean. actually mean? I just think it’s really interesting. Yeah, it’s just an interesting like, first line coming off a novel. I hear that a lot with like nonfiction books, like, Oh, my God, I read so much. And obviously you can learn from fiction. Yeah, but it’s very rare that I hear, like, across the board from people interested in this novel, I learned so much. And I that was part of the reason that I wanted to read this book, because I was like, What the fuck are like, what is this book? Like? What is she talking about? Did

Greta Johnsen 13:14
you learn a lot? I mean, yes, right. Did

Traci Thomas 13:16
I felt like I learned a lot of stuff. I saw that. Did you see the movie Coda last?

Greta Johnsen 13:21
Yeah. So I was just thinking about coda. Yeah.

Traci Thomas 13:24
And I had a similar feeling with Coda about, like, Who is this movie for? And it felt like, aside from the representation piece of it, it was a movie for hearing people. Yeah, you know, and like, I look forward, I guess what I’m trying to say is like, I’m glad these books and movies exist. I look forward to when death and I have a place at the table where they can just fucking write a book about deaf people. And it’s not like, here’s a Wikipedia article on and here’s the, here’s what the letters look like what like, I, I’m glad it exists. And I’m grateful to the work that Sara novedge has done. And I also feel like, that sucks for her that she can just fucking write the book, like, in any way she wants, and just expect that people will have some understanding like that she had to give us this like, Intro to Deaf Culture. Yes,

Greta Johnsen 14:11
yes. I completely agree. But I mean, you know, like, the phrase representation aside is like, you know, I mean, representation is a big fucking deal. You know, and, and I do think there is, I am totally with you, where, like, I look forward to like, the 202 version, or whatever, but like, I think there is still like, a lot of importance that like a book like this exists.

Traci Thomas 14:33
Yeah, I agree. I definitely think that it like, I’m glad it exists. And it’s crazy that it’s taken this long for something and I’m sure there are other books that that do this. I’m not familiar with them. But this book was a Reese Witherspoon book club pick. So this books is a book that is selling many, many copies. This isn’t just any novel about the Deaf community. This is a novel that has the Hello Sunshine stamp of approval, which means it’s on the bestseller lists. It means It’s being sold at means it’s on all the lists of books of the Year and Best this and best that. And that, to me is huge. I mean, right? Like, it’s just like code absolutely of code is not the only movie that ever had Duff characters. But Kota is an Academy Award winning film. And that means so so so, so much. So yeah, I just wanted to kind of think start there because that all of that sort of shadows, the rest of this conversation in a lot of ways, and, you know, coming to all these hot topic issues, like representation matters. The other thing that really stuck out to me in this book was about privilege. And I think we, I think what I learned the most, I mean, I definitely like learned, like, grammatical things about ASL and like linguistic moments, but I think what I what I learned the most, and this stuff came in the plot and less in the lessons, which is what I liked.

Greta Johnsen 15:52
Yes, I think the most interesting stuff to learn was in the pot. And that’s exactly

Traci Thomas 15:56
right. That’s exactly right. That’s how I felt too. And it was about privilege within the Deaf community. Yeah, right. Like fasting because we know we, you and I, as women, myself as a black person, like Yeah, you know, we know that the dominant culture decides what is privileged so that’s why we like that’s why the joke of like you failed, the Deaf test is a joke, right? It’s like slip it flips that thing on its head, and it makes hearing culture not the dominant, obvious, cultural standard. But within the community, I kept coming back to this idea of what is privileged Are you privileged if you’re a good lip reader, are you privileged if you’re a natural born signer, are you privileged if you have some hearing if you have cochlear implant, like, it was so interesting, because every character had such a different opinion about who what was the best, right like the Austin who’s this, like, incredible signer since birth was raised on ASL like, he’s the prom king, essentially. Yeah, the prom king. I mean, the February’s like show her around, you’ll like get her going. And that, like this was this really important thing? But then he, you know, looked at her and was like, oh, like, what is that sound like, you know, like, I don’t, I just found that really, to be an to be the thing that I was the most interested in about, like the status and the privilege within the Deaf community. Because it felt like a lot of it felt like it was outside of what the hearing community thinks or feels about them.

Greta Johnsen 17:28
I think you’re totally right, I loved the privilege elements, I think the other thing that I kept going back to that I still find myself thinking about that I just find really fascinating is just thinking about communication in general, and the different ways we do it. And, you know, especially I think as again, someone who spends a lot of time talking and listening. Also, I have like a super rare genetic eye disease. So my vision is deteriorating over time. So that also puts this really fascinating lens on it, because I personally have felt, you know, I mean, I, I am very grateful for my hearing, because I anticipate that I will not be able to see very well, in the not so distant future, which also puts this really interesting layer on things. Right. So that’s another one. So yeah, I think you know, and even the other day, like I was at my, with my boyfriend at the grocery store, and he was super far away, and he kind of mouthed something to me. And I was like, What the fuck are you saying and like, obviously couldn’t yell. But it was just, you know, or like thinking about that moment in the lunchroom, or someone asks for a tampon, but he’s, like, really embarrassed about it, because everyone can see. Like, it’s just the, you know, or the idea even that there’s no verb for to be because you are just literally embodying things, right? I just found that stuff also to be so interesting.

Traci Thomas 18:43
Yeah, there was also the part where it was like, you can’t have a conversation across rooms. Yeah, like when you come in the house, you have to go into the room that the PS the person is in. And I found that interesting. And also just like how easy it is for everyone to like eavesdrop like this. Yes. Where February like goes over to Austin’s Mom, what are you guys talking about? She’s like, maybe I shouldn’t have inserted myself in this way. But but she like had picked up enough of the conversation to kind of be able to jump in. I thought, yeah, I thought a lot of that was fascinating. Like, and again, all of that stuff is within the plot. Yes. Yes. You know, did you did you feel like you learned a lot in those like learning section? Or like, did you feel like you learned valuable things for you?

Greta Johnsen 19:31
That’s a great question. I don’t know. I think the most interesting stuff was in the plot. I could see those sections, I think, especially to your point like definitely feel why a and then it’s like, Are you reading this with a high school group and how informative is that? You know, right. I could see that being really because there were like exercises and stuff which like I definitely did not do any of the exercises. Did you

Traci Thomas 19:55
know, I did so I used to like know a little bit of sign language. I don’t know how I learned it. And I was like definitely like practicing like doing my like alphabet. Yes, I was reading the book like I was just like constantly doing it and I did find myself like doing okay a lot like as I was reading along, just because it kept coming up and I for whatever reason it like does feel really nice on the hands.

Greta Johnsen 20:19
Really cool. I learned the circle of life from The Lion King and sign language. Oh, third

Traci Thomas 20:24
grade. I know True Colors by Phil Cole.

Greta Johnsen 20:27
Wow, amazing.

Traci Thomas 20:30
Maybe you went to a hippie school in the Bay Area without saying you went to a hippie school in the Bay Area? Yeah, we

Greta Johnsen 20:35
haven’t talked about that. My mom grew up in Oakland. Oh, that’s where I’m from. That’s

Traci Thomas 20:40
me, too.

Greta Johnsen 20:41
Oh, she mentioned. Yes, she did go with Tom Hanks. Actually, he’s just two years behind. Anyway, the other thing I wanted to bring up is that so the first time I read this was much earlier this year, and I read it in igaly form. This time around, I actually listened to it because I do a lot of audiobook listening, which is also fascinating. partly just because obviously the subject matter is about not hearing or speaking with voices. So there was like kind of felt weird about it. But it was very interesting from like a listening experience for sure. Talk about it. So the main thing they did, which I think was at first was very distraction, distracting, but turned out to be pretty cool, I think is that during the ASL dialogue, they actually had said they recorded Sarah Novick signing the dialogue. And they played that audio during the audio book,

Traci Thomas 21:33
which still like when the dialogue you could also kind of hear like the hands moving or like yeah, Ching or whatever. Yes. Which

Greta Johnsen 21:39
mostly just sounded like rustling, right? Because you know, but there are some signs like I think swear, like has some like I think you put your hands together or sometimes of element. Yes. So now and then you would hear that it was, you know, I’m sure they spent a lot of time talking about how to do the audiobook treatment of this book. And yeah, I’m not sure it totally worked. But I’m glad they did something with it, I guess as well. So yeah,

Traci Thomas 22:05
you had mentioned that to me. And then someone else in the Stax pack was saying, like, I listen to this book, and I can’t imagine reading it off the page. And I was like, That’s so interesting, because I read it off the page. And I can’t imagine listening to it. Yeah, because of the way that the writing is formatted on the page, right that it’s italics when it’s in when it’s being ASL. And that it’s like kind of indented on different sides, you know, who’s talking, there’s also no quotes, quotation marks even in like the English out loud English part. So I thought it was funny that this person was like, I can’t imagine reading it off the page. And I’m sitting here being like, but then you wouldn’t see any of the signing and like also all the like, the reading Yeah, chapter heading. And, and in the lessons that had like sign language, like, how do you you know, I just, I thought it was so interesting, because that kind of is like its own conversation. It’s like, however you read the book is how you decide the book should be read. Unless you hate it. You know, sometimes I’ll listen to an audiobook and I’m like, I hate this narrator. This book was bad. But I’m glad that you felt like that added something, because I was very curious how they would distinguish the different forms of communication.

Greta Johnsen 23:16
Yes, yeah. I thought I thought it really worked and was super interesting. What was it about? Oh, it’s so did you know, there’s a black American Sign Language? I thought that was fascinating.

Traci Thomas 23:27
So I did not know that there was a official black American Sign Language. But I did know that black people had some different signs. Sure. So like, yeah, just like, you know, in American English, like different slang, but I didn’t realize it was sort of its own thing. What I mean, we, I mean, we could we should talk, I guess we can talk about this. Now, I do want to talk about how race was brought up in this book, because that was a little itchy for me. Again, I appreciate I think that Sarah novedge had a very, very difficult task in front of her. Okay, if if we assume that she is teaching all of us about Deaf culture, and ASL and the relationship to English and hearing all these things, and she’s taking on, you know, these huge ideas about privilege and activism, and she’s taking on race and she’s having like, different kinds of hearing like she’s doing a lot. Yeah, I think that this part felt really white person talking about race in a way that was just like, we don’t have to do that. Yeah, like we don’t have to have you have Austin feel icky about being called a racist, and like, it’s like, Oh, poor Austin. He made a mistake. I’m like, I would much rather have had like three or four chapters from Kayla being like, fucking Austin does this shit all the time. Like he’s a little bit fucking racist. And he gets on my last nerve instead of them setting up Austin is like he’s so privileged and like he’s the golden boy like yeah, no, fucking let the black girls say what they want to say about this boy. Yeah, you know, and like it felt like And then Charlie’s like, I feel weird about

Greta Johnsen 25:02
feel weird about Austin.

Traci Thomas 25:05
And I’m just like, and also okay, it’s Charlie. Charlie is some thing not black and not white. Oh, I assumed she was white. So, her name is Charlie Serrano. Oh, sure. And she says something about her skin color being like, how about Austin skin being so wide and her being like, tan Oh, interesting.

Greta Johnsen 25:29
I missed it. It

Traci Thomas 25:31
was very unclear. I wasn’t sure it came up like once or twice. And I was like, you know, maybe she’s like, maybe she’s like a Serrano from Spain. Sure. A lady. She’s a white. Maybe she’s white with like, some Spanish or Hispanic, whatever, I’ll

Greta Johnsen 25:45
have tone or Yeah, or maybe,

Traci Thomas 25:49
you know, she’s not nothing. I just was very unclear. And that also felt weird to me, because I couldn’t quite figure out like, does she feel weird? Because she feels weird that maybe Austin thinks about her in a certain way. If she is some shade of brown like, yeah, I don’t know. I just felt like it was so it was not I didn’t feel like it was handled like, in any real way. But it was in there just to be like, we have to check this box and like make sure we mentioned BSL.

Greta Johnsen 26:15
Yeah. Yeah, that’s a really good point. I mean, I did. I mean, I guess again, back to the lessons, like, I think especially the idea of this super rich language coming out of the intense oppression of segregation. I did find really cool and interesting. But you are totally right that like maybe she’s and she is doing a lot. And maybe she didn’t have to do that. It also reminds me of something else that I find I found myself thinking about, which is you know, you mentioned, we mostly hear from those three main characters. But there are a couple of random chapters from other characters.

Traci Thomas 26:51
We have one from Kayla one from Lea have one from the monda.

Greta Johnsen 26:55
Two, I think, right? Maybe not from Wanda.

Traci Thomas 27:00
Maybe we have one, I think from the wife.

Greta Johnsen 27:03
Yes, that’s what it is. Yeah, I which I I’m curious what you thought of those because I completely understand the desire to create plurality within this representation, I think. I think this book generally does a very good job of showing that there are a lot of different versions of what deafness can look like. And I think that’s really cool and important. But I did feel like this book, in a number of different ways was just like trying to do too much.

Traci Thomas 27:30
I agree. I fully agree. I felt like if we were going to have those I would have wanted more from Elliot earlier. Yes, totally. That felt really good. Really wanted a lot of more family. Yeah. The roommate, Austin’s roommate. Yeah, I do think we got one from one. I think you’re right. I can’t quite remember. But I do think we got one. And Kayla. I wanted more from Kayla, especially because she became this important, you know, figure who comes in to teach us about black things I would like I would have liked her to be set up a little bit more. Because then it would have had, like, if we knew her better, maybe that wouldn’t have landed as so much of like, white guilt. But because we knew Austin so well. And he we’ve been with him this whole time and then she pops in to be like, Yeah, I made Austin do a tick tock. Okay. Like, yeah, if that’s what you’re gonna give us, girl like she’s just gonna be annoyed with him and be like, but I made him do it. Tick tock. And we’re friends again. Yeah, whatever. Like she

Greta Johnsen 28:27
does call out Charlie in a way that I thought was kind of cool. That whole like, this is the last time I’m going to tell you know, like, you figure it out for yourself next time. I thought that was you know, like she could nod to that work, but no, I totally hear you. So to that end, then would you rather have had because I could see from Sara’s point of view like not want like, not being comfortable writing from such a different viewpoint as her own. Would you rather Kayla be written shittily or just not exist at all? I guess you’re arguing she already is written shittily hmm,

Traci Thomas 28:59
yeah, I would have I would have preferred her to give Kayla a little bit more more like if Kayla had like maybe three chapters like when she first meets meets Charlie if she had had a chapter of like I’m living with this rich white

Greta Johnsen 29:12
yes or whatever it was yeah, that was that but not done that well either. Yeah, and like

Traci Thomas 29:16
and we got a little bit of her backstory and then like maybe you know the first time she sees Austin and her like kicking it she’s like, you know, I don’t fuck with Austin he’s always doing shit whatever and then we get the scene with the racism and then we get one more que le moment Yeah, I feel like that could have been enough to not wear like Sarah’s having to write like a whole entire black character. But just giving us a little bit of insight into being a black girl in this super appears sounds feels like white space. Yeah, I mean, her girlfriend her friend who’s like in the drama. I think she’s also black is was my assumption.

Greta Johnsen 29:57
Well, and you know what else could have been cool is because she texts Charlie, like over the holidays and is like I’m ready to come back like that also, like a chapter from Berlin could have been pretty interesting.

Traci Thomas 30:09
I just think if there had been more of her and it wasn’t just like, I’m teaching you about black things and, and also didn’t send her Austin’s like feelings about it.

Greta Johnsen 30:19
Yeah, yeah.

Traci Thomas 30:20
Yeah. You know, I think everyone, I think anyone who’s reading the book, black, white, Asian, whatever. Understand that Austin is embarrassed when he someone calls him a racist. Yeah, I think in America, I think that scene is gonna land we’re gonna sympathize with him no matter what, because that’s what we’ve been conditioned to do. So I don’t think that she needed to do that. Also, especially given that this is a book that we all agree is like, teaching and like, you know, like, it’s like you don’t have you don’t have to do that. We that is something we all understand. In America, no matter what ethnicity you are, like, getting called a racist. White guys don’t like it. Yeah. Not fun for them. No, that’s it. That’s the tweet.

Greta Johnsen 31:06
Amazing. Oh, so another thing that we wait

Traci Thomas 31:09
before we do? We have to take a break. Okay. We’re gonna take a break. We’ll be right back. Okay, we are back. Okay. Greta, what is your other thing? Go ahead.

Greta Johnsen 31:19
Well, so there’s also this very interesting, like anarchy thread. Yeah. Which I think the book could have existed without it altogether.

Traci Thomas 31:31
1,000%. Okay, I took so many notes about Kyle slash slash, because I got taking notes, being like, am I so old and washed that this little like white boy and our kiss is doing nothing for me? Because here’s the thing about me. I love a steamy moment in a novel. Sure. I love I love a love triangle. I love an affair, right? This is very much what I am living for. And I was like, Charlie girl, no, yes, boy is wack. He’s boring as fuck. He’s so basic. Like, I know exactly who he is. He’s like the light boy who’s like, I’m an anarchist. And then in five years is literally gonna be working at like Goldman Sachs or whatever. Yeah, he’s

Greta Johnsen 32:15
extremely propped up on a white supremacist patriarchy. Absolutely. Well, I don’t know. I mean, I will say, I think maybe the Kyle slash slash character is interesting from the point of view of like, being a hearing person, and like seeing them interact and the way that like, he does treat her. He doesn’t treat her as if she’s fragile, or if there’s something wrong with her, which I do think right is an interesting dynamic. And I am glad that exists in the book. And I’m glad that existed for her. But yeah, the rest of it is just like, Yeah, I mean, that house sounded great. Like, every time we read about these sections, I’m just like, this is not going to be good. And like, I did drugs. like I did

Traci Thomas 33:00
on purpose, but I’m old now. And so I’m just like, Charlie, girl, go back to your school, go to the vending machine. Honey, go watch YouTube. girlies. Like, you don’t need this. You don’t need to be doing drugs and drinking with these weirdos at this nightclub like, Honey, you’re at boarding school. You don’t your parents aren’t even there. Like what’s happening? Yeah,

Greta Johnsen 33:18
yeah. Well, and like, and then again, back to these like lessons we’re getting about the history of anarchy, and like the slope, or the pressure cookers, it’s just like, what is what are we doing here? You know,

Traci Thomas 33:31
right. And I mean, that part was also so fucking white. Like, when you talk about anarchy, like they did, they went with France, but they could have easily gone with like, too little of a tool in Haiti, you know, like, they could have fucking gone black there. Why not? Yeah. You know, the little white boys love, love a black hero. They would love to be like, Oh, we’re the two songs like that’s our band. You know, like, they didn’t have to do Robespierre or whatever the fuck. But I feel like I just I want to I do want to talk about the ending. But I want to save that for a little bit. Because I Yeah, because it’s connected today. So I’m just while we’re on the topic of me not liking Kyle, who are your favorite characters and who are your least favorites?

Greta Johnsen 34:15
Oh, that’s so difficult. I don’t know. I mean, I think speaking going back again, to the idea of like, the plurality of of experiences that were getting in this book, I thought they were all super interesting. So I think I was less likely to pick favorites as I was to like, just be interested to peek in on these different like, You’re right Austin is like kind of a tool. He’s definitely like the golden child and he moves through the world with a lot of Ease He’s obviously extremely privileged, but I don’t know I thought the storyline with his little sister and you know, especially like his mom bringing up the safety concerns around not being able to hear and being a woman like I just thought, I thought all that characters were super interesting, I think. I’m trying to think of if there was someone I didn’t like, I mean, maybe like the chem teacher or whatever, but I don’t know that even like, again loving a love triangle. I’m into that. I guess maybe I didn’t like the wife. Was it Mal? Mal? Yeah. She seemed kind of mean. Was there a point where she even said, like, I don’t like you and then slammed the door? Like, it seems like maybe.

Traci Thomas 35:25
I don’t know. She didn’t leave a huge impression. My least favorite was easily slash slash.

Greta Johnsen 35:31
I mean, that’s a Yeah, yeah.

Traci Thomas 35:32
He also was that rapey he was old. He was a second year. See, you know, I didn’t make mad that math. Yeah, yeah. And so he would have been at least 20 or 21. And she was 16.

Greta Johnsen 35:45
Not necessarily. I was 17 When I graduated from high school, right? So even then, so eight years so he couldn’t he could have been 18 or 19 It’s still sketchy, but it’s

Traci Thomas 35:55
okay. So he’s somewhere between 19 and 21. When when this book is taking place? Yes, she we know is a sophomore, so she’s 1560 Yeah, yeah, it’s not great. It’s not it’s not giving what I want it to be giving when I talk about loving a steamy moment and affair. Yeah, I’m not really looking for adults having sex with children. That being said, I still don’t like slash for all the other Yeah, no sled. I kept doing the math being like, how old are you? How old are

Greta Johnsen 36:25
them with all that stuff, though, is like, you know, I think about my so called life, which is what I’m like, Oh my God, that show was like, impacted so heavily in

Traci Thomas 36:33
love that show. I cannot stand that show. I was never into it. I was Dawson’s Creek.

Greta Johnsen 36:38
Aside from that Claire Danes was 14 and Jared Leto was what like 25 or something. You know what I mean? Like most of the pop culture that we see that even is high school, like, high school stuff is either they’re both super old or one is Wait.

Traci Thomas 36:52
Are the characters the actors? What was he supposed to be

Greta Johnsen 36:57
supposed to be a couple years older than her?

Traci Thomas 36:58
Well, that’s also like Never have I also flunky where I was just thinking pot. Yeah, Hall Yoshida. The guy who plays it was like 31.

Greta Johnsen 37:08
And she’s- you know, when I found that out, it did kind of ruin that show for me. I mean, I still love the show.

Traci Thomas 37:12
I found it out. I liked it more. I liked it more because I was like, I don’t feel creepy for having a crush on her. I would have felt very icky if he was 16.

Greta Johnsen 37:23
And yeah, he’s How old is he? He’s like, 17 or something? Probably no, anybody’s. I bet he’s at least 21 by now. Who was that? I wasn’t the boyfriend. To all the boys I love before. Oh, I

Traci Thomas 37:35
never saw that. Oh, so cute. You’d probably hate it. I so I like cute and cheesy in my watching programming. Yeah. Oh, so I don’t like it in my reason. Maybe. Yeah, I keep meaning to do it. But then I’m like, should I read the book, but maybe I’ll just watch it books. Anyways. So okay, that was my least favorite. My favorite was Kayla. And I really liked Elliot. I just wanted more from them. I don’t know if they were my favorite, but I wanted more from them. And like you I really liked Austin, I think of like the main characters, his story and he was my favorite, even though he was flawed. Yeah. And I think it’s because he was flawed. I feel like maybe Sarah novedge felt like she had permission to write him flawed and like kind of to be like this golden boy and like very privileged. And I think that freed up his character from having to like, represent too much or be too much. And he had this whole family lineage to to add perspective, whereas Charlie and February felt much more isolated in their families, like only children, drew of parents who had different experiences with hearing than them, whether it was Coda or hearing parents, whatever. And so I felt like Austin was definitely like the most full character and family and debate going on. Like, it just felt the most rich to me.

Greta Johnsen 38:54
I wonder whose family is the most? Or which character is the most similar to Sarah’s own experience? I have no idea. But I think that would be really interesting.

Traci Thomas 39:04
I just assumed she was like February because February is the adult in the brochure. And so I was like, Sarah is the adult writing in February is the adult in the book, they’re the same. And I also think like, that was something that I thought was really, really interesting in the book that I learned that I loved was that a lot of people can’t sign and speak at the same time, which, which February does and I didn’t understand why that was so rare, until I understood that ASL is really its own full, complete language. And it’s not an interpretation, or translation of American English. I thought that was really interesting. And I thought it was so interesting that British Sign Language is different than American Sign Language than French. Yeah. And I thought that was so fantastic.

Greta Johnsen 39:44
Yeah, I thought that’s really cool, too. It’s fun. Like having read this book. I’ve gotten to a couple of performances since then, that have had sign interpreters. And it’s like, so much fun to watch them interpret. I mean, just the like the embodiment of words. Yeah. So Oh, fucking cool, you know?

Traci Thomas 40:02
Well that’s like encoder the movie quote on that scene with the dad where he’s like doing the whole like. He’s like, like and like make it sounds like a body metal thing. And she’s so embarrassed. But like, the boy that she brought over who’s hearing can totally understand is because like it, you know, and it says this in troopas it’s like, it’s a visual language. Yeah, like, so it’s meant to be understood easily, you know, with your eyes and like, if you know the basics, like you can kind of follow along, in a way that like English is not easy to follow along. If you’re even if you are hearing like just in general too difficult language. It’s, you know, there’s the rules are all fucked up and weird. Okay, consent. I thought this came up a lot in this book, we’re not talking about Charlie and Kyle slash slash the inappropriate sexual relationship that Charlie could not consent to because she was a minor. But I do think in addition to that question of privilege, I think the question of consent in this book is a super interesting one. And I think part of my like, interest in consent, and my thinking about consent has to do with being a parent of young children who cannot consent to anything. And even when they do consent to things, like do you want to whatever, immediately afterwards, they revoke their consent? It’s like, it’s hard. It’s hard to deal with. And so I think about it a lot. Yeah. Like, I don’t post my kids on, on my public social media, I have a private page. And I remove followers who I don’t know, whenever they pop up. And like, that’s something that I do for consent and privacy reasons. But it’s made me think about the things that I have done to my kids, before they could consent. I mean, you give them a shot, like the day they’re born.

Greta Johnsen 41:47
And I was like, Where are we going with consent? But, you know, I got it.-

Traci Thomas 41:50
Because because I’m thinking about the Cochlear is totally right. And like that technology, and and what do parents owe their children’s bodies before they can communicate? Let alone consent, right? Like this baby, baby Skylar, Austin’s little sister, they want to put implants in her. And obviously, like, of all the families in the book, dealing with these questions. It feels like Austin’s family is the most equipped to have the information formed. Right? Yeah. And informed decision. They have a hearing dad, they have generations of deaf people. Yeah, they have raised children safely, and to be full realized human beings, as all deaf people are, without cochlear implants. Yeah. However, they do know that the technology has changed, and that this is a potential thing, and that the school is closing and all this stuff. So I’m glad that that conversation was happening there, in addition to the conversation with Charlie’s family who really didn’t know as much about the potential, but should parents be able to do these things to their children too? Because here’s my thinking, and like this might be wrong. But my thinking is that parents should be able to make these decisions for their children. I gave my kids the COVID vaccine. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, give them a flu shot. Like, and I know that those things are accepted, are accepted, broadly and accepted by myself and my husband. But like, Well, I think those are defined out later.

Greta Johnsen 43:20
Those are just I don’t think I mean, I think they’re at least different in the framing, right? Because, like, deafness is considered a disability. Right. And so if there’s something you can do to keep your child from being disabled, I think that’s how a lot of people are thinking about it. Right. And I think I agree, the framing in this book, obviously indicates that there like, it’s much more complicated than that. I think in the case of Charlie, she’s very clearly saying she doesn’t want any other stuff in her brain. And I think, right, she should, you know, even if she’s not 18, or whatever, I think that should be respected. And her parents should be able to trust that, like she knows for herself, at least at that point. Right. She’s

Traci Thomas 43:57


Greta Johnsen 43:59
I think I think it’s otherwise super complicated. I mean, it reminds me of a conversation I had around my thing, which is like, there’s, I’m going to try and make this as concise as possible. It is possible that CRISPR like gene editing technology could fix the eye disease I have. And I remember once being interviewed about someone about it by someone about it, and she was like, okay, but is this super ablest for you to not want to be blind someday? And I’m like, Yes, but I don’t want to be blind. You know what I mean? And I think it’s different if you have experienced the thing and like the thought of losing it, like I think that is a very different equation than like if you just were born without it altogether. Right. But I think it’s just really complicated. I think especially in the case of a family that’s, for whatever reason, not equipped are able to provide for a deaf child the way they need to be Right, then. I don’t know.

Traci Thomas 45:02
Yeah, no, I hear you. And I mean, I think the other part in this book in this case is like, we hear a lot about how the funding is down. And there’s not enough Deaf teachers in like the public schools, and that there’s not enough depth schools. And there’s not enough like that a lot of these kids, our culture is being destroyed. Yeah, well, and in Charlie’s case, she’s being put in, in a special education class, because they don’t know how else to deal with her. And they’re putting in her in a room and no one’s communicating with her. And like, all of those things are also super, super fucking harmful for children. And so, you know, obviously, like the COVID thing is not an exact one to one. But I do think like, let’s say you had a child, and you knew that they had, you know, sight issues, and there was a surgery you could do to help their eyesight like, yeah, I don’t know, I think that parents should be able to do that for their children. But I also think that parents have to answer to their children. And I think that that’s what Charlie’s parents Yeah,

Greta Johnsen 45:58
don’t do not,

Traci Thomas 45:59
they don’t answer for their decisions. They say, I’m sorry, I thought it was the best thing to do. Which five that sort of is but like, let’s have a good fucking conversation. Mom, the shit is leaking into her brain and electrocuted her in her head. Like, and she was telling you guys something was fucked up. And nobody was listening to her. And like, I think that says a lot of just about how adults treat children and like, they don’t respect kids, and they don’t listen to kids. I don’t believe kids and like, listen, kids can lie and be awful and break your windows regularly. But my house, but like they know what’s going on?

Greta Johnsen 46:31
Well, then, you know, I think it goes back to to just like the toxicity of ableism. Because it’s true that if we and I think this is what, you know, Austin’s parents talk about too, like if we lived in a world that were more supportive and accepting of like a diversity of humans, maybe the idea of someday going blind would be less terrifying to me, you know, but like, as it is, it’s gonna be hard, you know? Right. And that’s, and like, you know, like, I just think that’s partly, yeah, if there was a if the world were more generally accepting, I think all of that would feel very different.

Traci Thomas 47:06
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, because it’s like ableism, is that water, right? Like that analogy of like, racism is the water and we’re all fish living in it like it as a person who is not disabled? Like, it’s hard for me to think outside of that framework, because I am, you know, privileged to have Yeah, all right, like, I was, like, I of course, could relate to Austin’s dad being like, I’m excited that I have a hearing child. So I get to sing my parents songs, and I get to like, you know, and, and that was like, That part was really heartbreaking to me, because I felt bad for Austin like that. He felt like he wasn’t enough. And I also felt bad for the DOD. Like, you know, I want to share my traditions and my family. And like, there is a piece of that dad character that it’s like, he married into a family like this family that has generations of proud Deaf culture, community, they host this party they are, you know, as far as we’re told, one of the central families in this town. Yeah. And like, I like marrying into that, whether whether that’s a black person marrying into a white family, whether that, you know, like whatever that looks like being an outsider marrying into a prominent family of a certain culture, like, that’s gotta be hard to because you get drowned out, like, we see the scene where the parents like, you’re gonna let this hearing man come into our family and do did it at it. And it’s like, well, wait a second grandparents, like, we get it. But also, this isn’t your child. This is just as much his child as it is her child. And like, I found that you know, that stuff to be really interesting to me, because that is hard.

Greta Johnsen 48:43
Yeah, yeah. I thought that compassion around that theme of like, parents just want their kids to be like them, I thought was was really heartbreaking and lovely. And I think it I thought it explained what otherwise could be perceived as hatred, or you know what I mean? Like, I think especially from the like, Charlie’s mom who like, obviously, is deeply imperfect. But when it gets down to it, it’s like, she just wants to be able to connect with Charlie and Ken. Right.

Traci Thomas 49:15
Right. Because yeah, because it’s, I mean, I haven’t quite gotten there yet. But I imagine that it’s hard if your kid is really different from you. Like my night, one of one of my nightmares for my children is that they would become conservative raging Republican, like I just wouldn’t know how to do that. You know? Yeah, there’s threat but it’s similar, like, you know, similar kind of like fear.

Greta Johnsen 49:36
Did you read crying and H Mart? I did. There is a line in that one that were like her mom says, I think it’s like, I just don’t know anyone like you. And yeah, it’s, it’s heartbreaking, right? And it’s like, yeah, because yeah, they didn’t connect all the time, but like, they try it and yeah, I just Yeah, I thought that

Traci Thomas 49:59
was really bad.

Greta Johnsen 50:00
Yeah hard.

Traci Thomas 50:00
Okay, we have to do the ending. Okay, let’s

Greta Johnsen 50:03
do the ending.

Traci Thomas 50:04
Okay, so the ending of this book is a weather vane underground moment. Potential weather on terrorism, weather, other ground knowledge. Potential. Well, maybe this was the weather vane underground didn’t quite go through. Yeah, but slot so Charlie and Austin are like, Fuck it, they’re closing our school we’re leaning into the angst. And then Elliott’s like, Hey guys, I also want to lean into the angst because I was in a car accident my dad died, my mom went full bore and again, and the church attacked me assaulted me poured hot wax in my ear to try to cure me and burned my entire face. Shout out to Elliot, I know that you’re not a real person, but god damn Elliot, I’m so sorry that happened to you what a hellscape. Um, so Elliott’s like I want to come to they go and meet up with slash and them. And they take their pressure cookers to make bombs, to blow up the cochlear implant factory in the town. February and Wanda foil their plan, figure out where they could be and what they’re up to. They go they stop them from farming the factory was

Greta Johnsen 51:28
y’all can see Tracy’s face when she’s describing a

Traci Thomas 51:33
theater major. They they take the students from the school back to the school, and they leave slash and then with their bombs and tell them to go home. But February says it’s just a bunch of parts now, implying that she like had them dismantled the bombs, but we find out the very end of the book, in fact, no, there are a few days or weeks later is a bombing at the cochlear implant. And we assume that it is slash and them acting out in solidarity with Charlie Elliot, Austin and the entire deaf community in this town in Ohio. Sara novedge I’m so impressed with so much that you did in this book. But let Charlie Elliot and awesome blow that shit up. If you’re gonna blow the shit up and no one’s gonna get caught. And it’s not going to be a thing than fucking let them do it. Yes, let them pull it up. Why does it matter? Nobody got caught. Nobody knew who did it anyways, no one was hurt. Let those kids burn that shit down. And let’s keep it moving. Give them the victory moment. Why are we giving the victory moment to slash in those weird?

Greta Johnsen 52:44
It is so interesting, because we’re like dipping our toes into anarchy, but then it’s like, oh, no, we can’t actually let the children like they have to stay pure or something in a way that’s like, okay, like, are we going there? Or are we not going there? You know? I don’t want to go. I don’t know that. I mean, I think my preference would have just been to remove all the anarchist shit. And yes,

Traci Thomas 53:07
how about my other choice?

Greta Johnsen 53:09
Because I do like I will say, narratively, I liked the like, you know, the opening pages are February’s like, oh, fuck, I lost kids. You know? Yeah, that’s super compelling. It creates a lot of narrative momentum that gets you through a lot of the story. And not that I think anything. You know, I think what’s tricky with a book like this is that, like, I don’t, I don’t wish anything sinister to have happened to those characters, especially beyond what already has happened to them. But that conclusion, it just fell super flat for me.

Traci Thomas 53:41
Yeah, I agree. I don’t think we needed the anarchy sub, I think there might have been another way to do some sort of activism, because that was the important part. Like that the Deaf community has been advocating for themselves, and they have made they have no, they have to, uh, and historically, they were majorly majorly important in the ADEA, passing and like, so I think that that lineage is really important. And I just wish you could have found another way to do it. Because to me, it’s like, if you’re gonna go here, like, let’s just say that that’s where we want to go, we want to go to this bombing of the cochlea, and then let’s go, let Charlie do it. Let her be our hero. Why are we like saying like, Oh, no, because because, again, nobody got hurt, and nobody got in trouble. I think it would be different after we found out that like, slashing them were all arrested and two people died by accident. I wouldn’t want that for those characters. But the way that it stands, it’s like, Oops, this happened and then the end. So like, why not let that oops, this happened be be those kids.

Greta Johnsen 54:37
Yeah. I do. Also, I mean, I I mean, other the explosion actually isn’t gonna make a difference. Right. So there is you know, like, I don’t know, I think that’s a broader conversation about like activism and what does and doesn’t work and right, you know, what should and shouldn’t work or whatever. I also think there’s a version where they save the school, and I don’t know how annoyed I would have been by that, you know, in terms of like saccharin. Whatever. Yeah, I mean, what I will say is that I think this is something we both agree on. We’re both plot people like I love when stuff happens I especially love when I’m like, completely surprised by it not in like a totally unearned out of the blue way. But just in a like, oh my god, I did not think of this like weird turn that we’re going on. Now what a fun ride. Normally, with an ending that’s this disappointing, it would end up coloring the rest of my opinion of the book. Yeah. And I’d be like, not fuck it. This isn’t good. But I do think this, like, I think there was enough in it. And maybe it is like, just because of all the educational elements of it. But like, I do still feel like it’s a book that is totally worth read. Like, the way I ended up describing it to friends was like, the ending sucks, but it’s worth it like you should still read, because it’s great.

Traci Thomas 55:51
I agree. I agree. I think that the ending didn’t damage the rest of the book. The ending sort of feels like the separate thing in my mind. That sucked. Yeah, like the rest of the book kind of lives somewhere else from that.

Greta Johnsen 56:02
Isn’t that funny? Because yeah, normally I’m like, No, this this is defined the whole thing. And it’s just not good.

Traci Thomas 56:07
Yeah, yeah. And I was so curious how she would end it, which you’re right. It’s up in that first, that first little section. And so it makes it like you have to know what happened, which I always appreciate it’s fine. Other thing is like, knowing that this is a Reese Witherspoon book club pick, I know that, like their criteria for picking a book, part of it is that there has to be a happy ending. And so I did know that nothing terrible was going to happen to Charlie, because in the version in my version, something terrible happens to one of those children. Right?

Greta Johnsen 56:37
Absolutely. Yeah.

Traci Thomas 56:38
That’s the version of the story that I would have wanted, I think because I think that that feels like life. However, because I know that there’s a yellow sticker on the cover. I knew that that wasn’t going to happen. So I was curious what she was going to do to pass the Reese Witherspoon tests. Not that that’s what you wrote it for. But just that like, that’s a signal to me. Yeah. Okay, we have we’re like running out of time, we have to talk about the title and the cover. Oh, yeah. Title is true. Because the cover is a hand kind of pointing up with one finger your index, finger lifted. Bright colors. purple, blue, red, maroon? Green. What do you think of the title? What do you think of the color cover?

Greta Johnsen 57:20
I really love the cover. I think the title makes sense once you’ve read it. And you know, this is interesting to your point about like the audience for this book. Because, you know, obviously Trube is like a thing in the in ASL that essentially means like, you want me to like real talk, real talk. It’s very so it’s, it’s something that like could essentially could theoretically, I mean, it doesn’t automatically appeal to a hearing audience, right? Because we don’t know what the hell it means. But I don’t I think the cover is so colorful and fun. And I think the title I don’t know that it really fits for what the book is either though, what do you think?

Traci Thomas 58:00
Yeah, I don’t know that real talk is necessarily like the the I liked Yeah, I liked that. It was like an idiom that’s translated Yeah. The My biggest takeaway for the title was that I could not stop singing Tina Marie square because Oh, wow. It was in my head constantly. And and square biz means the same thing. It sort of means we’ll talk and so I just was giving my full Tina Marie realness all weekend as I was reading my book, just being like Squarespace. Do you baby. So yeah, I’m, I’m not sure that it fit the story fully. It popped up a few times. I think the first time was in reference to baby Skylar, being caring the grandpa was like this and then we hear that February uses that as sort of like if you tell me the truth, like I’m gonna go lighter on you or whatever. And I liked that she chose a death idiom, slang term translated slang term. True. Yeah. So I liked all of that. But I don’t know knowing now knowing what truth is means it didn’t. Some might. One of my favorite things when we do book club books is when the title appears in a novel and I’m like, Oh, shoot. Like the one this year was we read Toni Morrison’s, a mercy. And it appears on like, the last page of the book, and I literally was like, I have read the sentence 15 times. Like, I still think about it. It was it’s so brilliantly done. And this is not that. Like it just it didn’t have like a major impact on me. Usually with nonfiction, it doesn’t matter. But with fiction, I’m like, one is true. So and the cover is cool. I think the cover pops. I love seeing it in bookstores. Yeah, there’s no no complaints about the cover. And I think that having a handle on there is necessary. Yes.

Greta Johnsen 59:45
Yeah. I think it’s a nice take on like, it feels trendy without being like too on the nose about it either. You know what I mean?

Traci Thomas 59:53
Totally. Is there anything else we didn’t talk about that you feel like we must speak about?

Greta Johnsen 1:00:00
I don’t think so I think we I think we did it.

Traci Thomas 1:00:03
I think we hit everything on my list, more or less. And we didn’t talk a ton about the plot of the book. But I think we got to talk about the strength short and the big. Yes. And the story. We didn’t talk about every little detail, but whatever. We never a deal. Let’s be honest. It took me like eight hours to read this book. I can’t do it in an hour. Anyways, everybody, you can listen to the end of today’s episode to find out what our January book club pick will be very excited about it. I’ll tell you what it is offline. You can read with us, I think you’ll have a good time. And everyone you can find Greta on the internet. And her podcast is called nerd debt. And they also have a book club. And if you like positive books, a little more uplifting style books for your book club read more on the lines of True Biz you’re gonna find that in order and you can combine our dark and gloomy and twisty stacks pics with Greta has lovely intelligent, kind novels, and you’re going to have the best reading of your life. So let me tell you all.

Greta Johnsen 1:01:15
Traci, can I also do a plug for a January Series we’re doing? So in January, the first three Fridays of January we are doing a book series we’re calling undercover. And I interviewed a whole shit ton of people. We’re doing an episode all about blurbs, which you were featured in Tracy, a and then we also are doing one about audiobooks and how audiobooks are made. I got to talk to some audiobook narrators and producers and directors, which was very fun. And then we’re also doing one about adaptations. And like how a book becomes a movie and how people involved at different stages of it. Think about it. So for that one we talked to like the casting director of kindred. And Jacob Anderson, who’s in the new Interview with a Vampire show. And I think it’s just kind of a fun peek behind the curtain of a bunch of like publishing industry stuff that like book nerds might be curious about. So that should be fun.

Traci Thomas 1:02:06
I love it. Go check it out, everyone. It’s our last book club of the year. It’s our last episode of the year. Thank you all for listening all year long and being nice to me even when I say stupid things. I love you all so very, very much Greta, thank you for being here, guys. Thank you. It was really my pleasure. And everyone else we will see you in the stacks

Alright, y’all, that does it for us today. Thank you so much for listening today. And all year long. I want to say a huge thank you again to Greta Johnsen for being our guest. And now it is time for me to reveal our January book club pick. It is the meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey. That’s right, we’re finally doing a celebrity memoir on this podcast. And this one is as juicy as they come so be sure to listen to the show next week to find out who our guest will be. And for our discussion on January 25. If you love the show and want insight access to it, head to patreon.com/the stacks to join the stacks pack. Make sure you’re subscribed to the stacks wherever you get your podcasts and if you’re listening through Apple podcast be sure to leave us a rating and a review. For more from the stacks follow us on social media at the Stacks pod on Instagram and at the stocks pod underscore on Twitter and check out our website the stacks podcast.com Today’s episode of The Stacks and every single episode this entire year was edited by Kristian Duenas with wonderful production assistance from Lauren Tyree. The Stacks is created and produced by me Traci Thomas.

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