After pushing through seventy percent of “Cackle” by Rachel Harrison, I had to DNF my first book ever. Never mind the fact I was over listening to a thirty-year-old get black out drunk every night because she couldn’t handle being single, but I realized how much of a problematic author Harrison was and would never be called out. Well, until now….
I realize that based on the reviews, Sophie is finally able to get her to understand she won’t actually die from being single, however, it shouldn’t have taken seventy percent of the book for the female main character (FMC) to experience literally zero growth for as much as I read. It left a sour taste in my mouth that no amount of wine would get rid of. Society gives women enough crap for being single, no matter the age. I didn’t need to read a book for this long to be reminded of the stereotype. Nor should getting blackout drunk every single night be the answer.
However, that’s not the most disturbing part of this book. I was listening to the audiobook, and when I heard ASL (American Sign Language) used, my ears perked up. Mostly because I thought the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HH) community was going to get some representation, which doesn’t happen enough honestly. However, what they represented was not done correctly.
The FMC declares she’s teaching two ASL classes. Here are some issues with that:
1. ASL is considered jargon and should have been explained at least once, but that’s just a business thing for me.
2. Classes are taught by people who have a tie to the community. (The FMC has zero) This does not differ from stating the science teacher is going to teach two French classes.
3. This community has spent decades fighting and continues to fight for the right to have people within the community teach about their language and culture instead of someone simply claiming to “know the language”. If the author had any background or tie to the community, they would understand this is a huge slap in the face.
4. The FMC is teaching two ASL classes in a very small town with one HH student. Now, it’s true that not all HH individuals know sign, but if the author knew anything about the culture and the community, they would know there would be no way there would be one, let alone two, classes of ASL being taught where there was no Deaf community present. This makes me believe that the author simply wanted to diversify her character without understanding the culture, language, or community they represented.
5. There is zero mention of teaching culture or the language itself. Simply that the class has the most troublemakers in it, causing the FMC the most grief. (A massive missed opportunity and poor use of diversifying her character)
6. This is the worst one of all…English is not a Deaf or HH individual’s first language if they are raised in the ASL culture and community. They won’t be listening to audiobooks, or seeking this novel out in order to call this author out like other cultures and communities can. However, I could not stay quiet on this one.
I have spent half my life, and continue to do. so, being a part of the Deaf and HH of hearing community. I went to school, was taught by Deaf instructors, and was a nationally certified interpreter for the community. This book misrepresents a beautiful culture and community that allowed me to be a part of it, and embraced me despite having zero hearing loss. I respect it far too much to remain quiet about this, nor will I be reading any other books written by this author.
Being a bestseller doesn’t give you the right to misrepresent a culture and community just because they most likely won’t be striving to read it. Do better Rachel Harrison. Do better.