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June 2023

Lou Ann Walker is the oldest daughter of deaf parents.  As a young toddler, she learned to help her parents with tasks that they could not accomplish in the hearing world.  Walker loved her parents, but struggled to come to terms with their deafness and what it meant for her and their family.

I found this book fascinating for two reasons. First, I haven’t before read such an intimate portrait of what it means to be deaf.  A quote from Helen Keller that Walker used is a good summary of the difficulties that Walker’s parents faced:  “Blindness cuts people off from things; deafness cuts people off from people.”  Second, because Walker was born in the 1950’s, most of the technology that we take for granted today was not in use.  When Walker’s parents had to make a doctor’s appointment, they had to drive to the doctor’s office to make the appointment.  There was no email, no fax, no internet, and TTY machines were just in their beginning stages.  I wonder how the isolation that Walker’s parents felt and their dependence on others would be different today.

There’s so much more I could say about this unique book, but I just don’t have the time.  Walker should be commended for her sensitve exploration of such a personal and tender subject.

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