We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

‘Part tender coming of age story, part electrifying tale of political awakening, part heartfelt love letter to Deaf culture, True Biz is a wholly a wonder’ Celeste Ng

A transporting novel that follows a year of seismic romantic, political, and familial shifts for a teacher and her students at a boarding school for the deaf, from the acclaimed author of Girl at War.

ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2022 – Oprah Daily, The Millions, Lit Hub, BookPage

True biz (adj./exclamation; American Sign Language): really, seriously, definitely, real-talk

True biz? The students at the River Valley School for the Deaf just want to hook up, pass their history finals, and have politicians, doctors, and their parents stop telling them what to do with their bodies. This revelatory novel plunges readers into the halls of a residential school for the deaf, where they’ll meet Charlie, a rebellious transfer student who’s never met another deaf person before; Austin, the school’s golden boy, whose world is rocked when his baby sister is born hearing; and February, the headmistress, who is fighting to keep her school open and her marriage intact, but might not be able to do both. As a series of crises both personal and political threaten to unravel each of them, Charlie, Austin, and February find their lives inextricable from one another – and changed forever.

This is a story of sign language and lip-reading, disability and civil rights, isolation and injustice, first love and loss, and, above all, great persistence, daring, and joy. Absorbing and assured, idiosyncratic and relatable, this is an unforgettable journey into the Deaf community and a universal celebration of human connection.


Sara Novic's gifts for character, story, and language are evident from the first page. True Biz feels like the discovery of a new written form, a love letter to language itself
Liz Moore, New York Times bestselling author of Long Bright River
Part tender coming of age story, part electrifying tale of political awakening, part heartfelt love letter to Deaf culture, True Biz is a wholly a wonder. Sara Novic examines the ways language can include, exclude, or help forge an identity - as well as what it means to carve out a place for yourself in a world that sees you as other
Celeste Ng
I loved True Biz, it's warm, complex and compelling. Of course I love the way it provides a window into a culture that will be unfamiliar to many of us, but what really marks it out is its humanity and intelligence - the threads of coming-of-age, birth, death, and all the rites of passage are interwoven brilliantly, surrounding a core of passion for justice and equality.'
Bridget Collins
This is my favorite kind of novel, fascinating and smart and brimming with contrasts. It's a coming-of-age story but also one of anarchy and protest. It's about the ways communities are bound but also the ways they bind. It's about belonging versus conforming, individual strength alongside solidarity. I laughed. I learned. I entered a world I knew too little about, at once different from mine and of course the same. I will be recommending this book to absolutely everyone
Laurie Frankel, New York Times bestselling author of This Is How It Always Is and One Two Three
Reading True Biz was a transformative experience - it's as important a book as I've read in years. I was in awe of the care and love and hard-won wisdom that went into the writing of it. Sara Novic is the real deal
Jami Attenberg, author of All This Could Be Yours
True Biz is exquisitely crafted and absolutely riveting
Vendela Vida, author of We Run the Tides
Rollicking, immersive, and boldly, exquisitely felt, True Biz delves into the deepest questions about community, communication, and collective action, inviting the reader into a world of language made new
Alexandra Kleeman, author of Something New Under the Sun