The story opens with Tonya beginning college at Gallaudet University, the only university in the world for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. College changes everything for Tonya. While growing up, she learned cued speech, which enabled her to communicate only with people who could hear. However, at college she learns American Sign Language (ASL), which opens up a whole new community of peers. Tonya likes using ASL so much that she no longer wants to use cued speech to communicate. This causes conflict between Tonya and her mother, who likes to hear Tonya and speak with her. Tonya's mother feels hurt until she realizes that Tonya needs to do things her own way. In the end, both mother and daughter do their best to understand each other's feelings and point of view.
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