Thursday, June 21, 2012
Turn a Deaf Ear: A Book Review
I'm very pleased to tell all of you about Turn a Deaf Ear, a novel I read this week. I heard about the book through the publisher who sent me a copy to review here. Before I read it, I didn't know much about the story other than it was a book for adults (as opposed to children or young adult literature) and it featured a romance between a hearing woman and a deaf man. The book was written by sisters Janet Fiore Horger and Linda Fiore Sanders.
My immediate reaction upon finishing the book was the recurring thought "It's been a privilege." I don't think I've ever felt that way about reading a book before. The story combines fictional parts with a basis in fact, but I couldn't tell where those lines were drawn. The story was seamless for me in that regard.
Turn a Deaf Ear is the coming of age story of Linda, a young adult from New Jersey, transplanted to California when her parents divorce. The time period is the 1960s and 70s. Linda's mother relocates to California with her two children, Linda and her big brother Nick, to live near her oldest daughter Cee Cee, a married woman living in Burbank.
The Fiore family is Italian and family and food are of prime importance. I enjoyed learning more about Italian-American culture and found the mother's character particularly well drawn. I especially enjoyed the children's exasperation with her demands while they followed all her wishes to give her the respect due her as matriarch of their family. There are wonderful descriptions of her family dinners, nightly phone calls, restaurant rituals, and The Test she gives all her son's girlfriends to let them know no one is good enough for him.
Deafness enters the story when Nick brings home to dinner a coworker named John. Mama doesn't mind that he doesn't speak or hear, as long as he has a good appetite! Nick has learned ASL and translates. Even without communicating directly, Linda and John fall in love at first sight. They begin to date, but John is reluctant to teach her to sign right away. After three months of fingerspelling only, Linda tells him if he doesn't teach her to sign, it will be their last date! He gives in and this begins her introduction to ASL and deaf culture.
The pair face resistance from friends and loved ones, both hearing and deaf, but their love overcomes all. In a truly beautiful scene later in the book, the mother comes to fully accept John. I challenge anyone not to be touched by it. I hope that's one of the true parts of the story.
There are twists and turns to the story line which kept me interested. I don't want to reveal too much here in case I spoil it for you. Please note that this paperback book is published by Grasshopper Christian Publishing and not a major publishing house. But don't be put off by the name, the book is not preachy in the least and I found the quality a cut above vanity press standards.
If you would like to read this story for yourself, you can find it available here through Amazon. Italian recipes featured in the story can be found on the book's website. I also highly recommend reading my friend's review of this book on her blog, Xpressive Handz.
Special Offer for Readers of Speak Up Librarian:
The publisher is allowing me to offer one copy of the book as a giveaway to readers who live in the United States or Canada. To enter, please send YOUR NAME and EMAIL ADDRESS to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will keep the giveaway open until July 15, 2012. At that time, I will do a random drawing from the names and all participants will be informed if they are a winner or not. Your information will be kept confidential and used for no other purpose. The publisher will contact the winner directly for a mailing address. Only addresses in Canada or the United States qualify.