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Unspoken Scars


“My first language wasn’t Sign. It was violence.”

Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, tugs at my heartstrings more than a coming-of-age story, especially one coupled with horrific events. This was a story of pain, loss, discovery, friendship, and utter heartbreak, all of which are vividly portrayed in Adam Pottle’s Apparitions.

The story follows the harrowing journey of a deaf child who is suddenly ripped from his safe space and subjected to heinous acts of violence perpetrated by someone who is morally obligated to love, nurture, teach, and care for him. After escaping such horrors, the protagonist finds himself institutionalized and navigating a world where he is an alien, with no sense of what is happening, where he is, and why. 

The author was able to draw out raw emotion; reading about how our protagonist recounts the story of survival and resilience in the confines of a basement left us wondering about his own survival and care.

The prose was poetic; some were filled with gut-wrenching emotions and then quickly turned into feelings of reflection. Lines like “light allows us to see, but it also shows us things that we might not want to see. Light singles everything out. It divides us. Everything blends together in darkness” illustrates such a profound way to see the world.

What I especially loved about this story was the author’s continuous examples of sign language to help the reader feel what our protagonist was feeling, allowing us to imagine how lost we would be without the loss of one of our senses and the absence of the knowledge of words. For example, the struggle of not understanding simple things such as an electric razor, a camera, names of colors, and even his own name shows the lack of parental care and teachings and what it was like to be completely isolated from the world. 

Self-awareness, sexual exploration, friendship, the need to learn how to communicate, and the discovery of the self and the world made for a well-crafted and intriguing story! I felt every angst and pain endured, as well as every moment of love and friendship. This was deep and one of the most beautifully haunting stories I have read! Kudos, Mr. Pottle; I don't know how I can ever love a protagonist as deeply as I have loved this one.


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