A Sense of You

Jessica Kirkness

A captivating story of struggle; of lives that were both ordinary and extraordinary.

A Sense of You was shortlisted for the 2021 Richell Prize for Emerging Writers and was described by judges as ‘beautifully crafted’ and written in ‘adept, precise prose.’ Full of heart and tenderness, it provides an account of deafness in Australia and the UK, where Jessica’s grandparents spent the first 60 years of their lives. She tells her grandparents’ experience of growing up in a hearing world – one where sign language was banned for much of the 20th century.

Her quest to better understand them takes her to sign language classes, to the workplaces of research audiologists, and in the final chapters, she is led back to England where she visits their old schools and family landmarks. Throughout this journey, Jessica navigates the throes of grief – both for the loss of her grandfather, who died just before the pandemic, and for the ways her grandparents’ deafness has been so terribly misunderstood.

A Sense of You captures the universal experience of the complexity of navigating familial relationships. It is a beautiful exploration of family and identity, of mothers and daughters and more broadly, what it is to be a member of a family with its own unspoken rules, undeclared boundaries, and unique bonds.


Jessica Kirkness

Jessica is a GODA – a grandchild of deaf adults – who writes about deafness, disability and family. In 2019 she completed a PhD in Life Writing and Deaf Studies at Macquarie University. Since then, she has been invited to speak on ABC radio Sydney, Canberra, and Hobart. She has presented her writing at the 2018 Emerging Writer’s Festival as well as at various academic conferences and public lectures. In 2019, Jessica was the runner up for Writing NSW’s Varuna Fellowship. Her writing has been published in Meanjin and The Conversation. In 2021, her manuscript, A Sense of You, was shortlisted for the Richell Prize for Emerging Writers, and received a commendation for the Peter Blazey Fellowship. She currently teaches non-fiction writing at Macquarie University.

Allen & Unwin

Allen & Unwin is Australia’s leading independent publisher and is the 2020 Publisher of the Year, a title we’ve now held fourteen times. Our lists are unrivalled in scope and quality, our focus on original ideas and voices, and our acclaimed authors and titles amongst Australia’s best.

A Sense of You
Rights sold
Sandra Buol