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Staff Pick
The Sign for Home: A Novel

The Sign for Home: A Novel

Current price: $27.00
Publication Date: April 5th, 2022
Atria/Emily Bestler Books

Staff Reviews

"The Sign For Home" is a breakthrough in fiction representing people with disabilities, specifically the deafblind. Arlo Dilly is a young man who is enrolling in a community college writing class. Arlo struggles with English; it is his second language. His first language is ASL. Arlo has Usher's Syndrome. Arlo is interested in school and improving his writing skills to enable him to preach as a missionary of his Jehovah's Witnesses Congregation. He wants to meet new people especially new girls his age. Due to his religious beliefs, he is ashamed of himself for desiring to meet and have a relationship with a young woman. His perceptions of people are entirely based on touching and smelling them. I love his unique voice. "The Sign For Home" is a powerful story of Arlo and his quest to find forbidden love and live the life he wants. Arlo's family and interpreters can be helpful but primarily are obstacles and overprotective. Arlo must learn to advocate for himself. He knows what he wants but ironically few people listen to him. The writing is superb and the content is original and much needed!

— Liz

Unforgettable and completely unique! Fell illuminates DeafBlind life in Arlo Dilly, who will steal your heart as he journeys to experience life and independence, and to break free of those who have been holding him back. A must read!

Maxwell Gregory, Madison Street Books, Chicago, IL
April 2022 Indie Next List

Arlo is a DeafBlind Jehovah’s Witness who learns just how much his guardian has been hiding from him when he hires a new queer interpreter. If you are not cheering for the characters in this book by the end then you have a heart of stone!

Carrie Deming, The Dog Eared Book, Palmyra, NY
Spring 2023 Reading Group Indie Next List


Longlisted for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

When a young DeafBlind man learns the girl he thought was lost forever might still be out there, he embarks on a life-changing journey to find her—and his freedom.

Arlo Dilly is young, handsome, and eager to meet the right girl. He also happens to be DeafBlind, a Jehovah’s Witness, and under the strict guardianship of his controlling uncle. His chances of finding someone to love seem slim to none.

And yet, it happened once before: many years ago, at a boarding school for the Deaf, Arlo met the love of his life—a mysterious girl with onyx eyes and beautifully expressive hands which told him the most amazing stories. But tragedy struck, and their love was lost forever.

Or so Arlo thought.

After years trying to heal his broken heart, Arlo is assigned a college writing assignment which unlocks buried memories of his past. Soon he wonders if the hearing people he was supposed to trust have been lying to him all along, and if his lost love might be found again.

No longer willing to accept what others tell him, Arlo convinces a small band of misfit friends to set off on a journey to learn the truth. After all, who better to bring on this quest than his gay interpreter and wildly inappropriate Belgian best friend? Despite the many forces working against him, Arlo will stop at nothing to find the girl who got away and experience all of life’s joyful possibilities.

About the Author

Blair Fell writes and lives in Jackson Heights, New York, with his partner. Blair’s television work includes Queer as Folk, and the Emmy Award–winning California Connected. He’s written dozens of plays including the award-winning plays Naked Will, The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun, and the downtown cult miniseries Burning Habits. His personal essays have appeared in HuffPostOutDaily News (New York), and more. He’s a two-time winner of the prestigious Doris Lippman Prize in Creative Writing from the City College of New York, including for his early unfinished draft of The Sign for Home. Concurrently with being a writer, Blair has been an ASL interpreter for the Deaf since 1993, and has also worked as an actor, producer, and director.

Praise for The Sign for Home: A Novel

*The 2022 Pride Reading List: 72 New Books to Read All Year*
— Goodreads

"As if complex characters, a compelling voice, smart stylistic choices, and the fierce defense of diversity, accessibility, and equality were not enough, THE SIGN FOR HOME also immersed me in an engrossing and important conversation I knew too little about. I closed this book more enlightened, more engaged, and more hopeful than I was when I opened it, and I enjoyed every page along the way."
— Laurie Frankel, New York Times bestselling author of ONE TWO THREE

"A hilarious, peculiar and very touching story about a deaf, blind Jehovah’s Witness boy and his gay interpreter."
— James Hannaham, author of the PEN/Faulkner Award winner, DELICIOUS FOODS

"Fell writes with a deep compassion and keen attention to the experiences of living with deafness and blindness. This heartfelt romance is hard to resist."
— Publishers Weekly

"A unique coming-of-age romance."
— Buzzfeed

"Tender, hilarious and decidedly uplifting."
— BookPage

“Poignant . . . . Riveting”
— Los Angeles Times

*April's Most Anticipated*
— The Millions

"Reading THE SIGN FOR HOME will cause you to experience many emotions, from indignation to horror to heartbreak. Ultimately, though, this is a novel about the power of love --- not just romantic love but the love that evolves from friendship. It's a beautiful story that’s powerfully told."