Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: May 26, 2015
LEARNING TO LISTEN
Shoya is a bully. When Shoko, a girl who can’t hear, enters his elementary school class, she becomes their favorite target, and Shoya and his friends goad each other into devising new tortures for her. But the children’s cruelty goes too far. Shoko is forced to leave the school, and Shoya ends up shouldering all the blame. Six years later, the two meet again. Can Shoya make up for his past mistakes, or is it too late?
I was warned about the horrible characters, and I’m glad. Because it’s so true.
I was also warned about how good, and worthwhile this series is, with the horrible characters. That is also completely true.
First of all: the color pages! I think I heard mention of them, but had completely forgotten by the time the book arrived to me. But there are three pages! And they are so pretty! The artwork is more realistic, not big-eyed, and it took me a while to get used to, but it’s very pretty.
This volume is in Shoya’s point of view. And it’s horrible, but needed. His thoughts, the way he slowly turns into a true bully with no sympathy or empathy, is realistic, and extremely believable. Even while I hate him, and don’t understand how he can think this way, I believe that he does.
And then the way everything changes for him, and he’s bullied… It’s beautifully done, and I’m so extremely impressed.
Not just him, but the other characters, too. They’re all horrible, including the teacher.
Which brings me to Shoko. She’s deaf, and she wants friends. She is a beautiful person, even while going through what they do to her. Her mom doesn’t seem to be the most understanding, but Shoko tries to be nice to everyone, and takes the blame for what’s done to her, and I so badly want to be inside her head.
I did love the way her deafness is handled. The bullying frustrated and angered me, but it’s not forgotten. It drove me crazy how Shoya kept trying to talk to her, when she couldn’t hear him. I liked that she tried to get people to talk to her through the notebook, and she didn’t back down when they were rude. Her voice is weird, because she doesn’t know how to make it like other peoples, and I’m glad it was mentioned. I don’t like that the teacher made her read aloud in class, though, since she had problems, and that only made the bullying worse. I didn’t like that the school didn’t try to actually help her, get her someone to make class easier. It’s also mentioned how expensive hearing aids cost, which is good since the kids were always breaking hers.
At the end of the volume, a couple of years have gone by, and the two are just now running into each other again. I’m really excited to see what happens next. I’m extremely impressed, even while frustrated, but I loved it.