Does sound have rhythm? my father asked. Does it rise and fall like the ocean? Does it come and go like the wind?
Such were the kinds of questions that Myron Uhlbergs deaf father asked him from earliest childhood, in his eternal quest to decipher, and to understand, the elusive nature of sound. Quite a challenge for a young boy, and one of many he would face.
Uhlbergs first language was American Sign Language, the first sign he learned: I love you. But his second language was spoken Englishand no sooner did he learn it than he was called upon to act as his fathers ears and mouth in the stores and streets of the neighborhood beyond their silent apartment in Brooklyn.
Resentful as he sometimes was of the heavy burdens heaped on his small shoulders, he nonetheless adored his parents, who passed on to him their own passionate engagement with life. These two remarkable people married and had children at the absolute bottom of the Great Depressionan expression of extraordinary optimism, and typical of the joy and resilience they were able to summon at even the darkest of times.
From the beaches of Coney Island to Ebbets Field, where he watches his fathers hero Jackie Robinson play ball, from the branch library above the local Chinese restaurant where the odor of chow mein rose from the pages of the books he devoured to the hospital ward where he visits his polio-afflicted friend, this is a memoir filled with stories about growing up not just as the child of two deaf people but as a book-loving, mischief-making, tree-climbing kid during the remarkably eventful period that spanned the Depression, the War, and the early fifties.
Entertainment Weekly - Myron Uhlberg
In the retelling, as in his upbringing, actions speak louder than words. B+.
Christian Science Monitor - Marilyn Gardner
Uhlberg’s poignant story of devotion and responsibility is a love letter of sorts to his late parents. It opens a window into a world of isolation and “eternal silence” unimaginable to most people. Calling sign a language of the heart, he elevates it to something approaching an art form, saying, “It is for me the most beautiful, immediate, and expressive of languages, because it incorporates the entire human body.”
...a well-crafted, heartwarming tale of family love and understanding.
School Library Journal (Adult Books for Teens)
Teens who enjoy history, historical fiction, memoirs, or books about people who are differently abled should all enjoy this.
Starred Review. Heartfelt...[Uhlberg] describes significant episodes of his early life with artful economy and sincere emotion.
Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto and Run.
In telling the story of his very unique childhood, Myron Uhlberg has created a book that is universal. His feelings of love and responsibility, of shame and enormous pride, can teach us all something about being a member of a family. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t love this book.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Nancy A boy's remarkable story of growing up with deaf parents Myron talks about how having 2 deaf parents may have made his life harder, but he still shows how remarkable his parents were. His father held a steady job as a newspaper printer and loved his wife and sons fiercely. Myron may have been somewhat... Read More
Hundreds of years of evolution have shaped American Sign Language (ASL), today the main sign language for deaf people in the U.S., parts of Canada and Mexico, and many other countries around the world. Derived in part from the personal hand signal repertoires of many deaf individuals, ASL has grown to become a fully functional language, a medium of higher education, and a central part of Deaf culture.
The deaf have always developed their own means of communicating through signals, long before any attempt was made to standardize these into a formal language. Nearly three hundred years ago, a spate of deaf births on Martha's Vineyard gave rise to a unique sign language on the island. One of the earliest attempts to extend beyond a small community and create a consistent and teachable language is credited to Abbe Charles Michel de l'Epee, who developed Old French Sign Language in the 18th century. In 1817, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet co-founded the American Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb in the U.S., now known as the American...
This witty and lovingly told memoir takes readers back to a time when small-town America was caught in the amber of the innocent postwar period--people helped their neighbors, went to church on Sunday, and kept barnyard animals in their backyards.
The Pulitzer Prizewinning author of All Over but the Shoutin continues his personal history of the Deep South with an evocation of his mothers childhood in the Appalachian foothills during the Great Depression, and the magnificent story of the man who raised her.
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