Tag Archives: growing up with deaf parents

The Sign of a Good Story (Hint: The Genre)

This memoir wasn’t even on my memoir bookshelf. I read it before I started thinking memoir.

My daughter was in high school, and she was taking ASL classes to satisfy her foreign language requirement. She had already had years of French in elementary and middle school, but wanted ASL for high school.

She read A Loss for Words by Lou Ann Walker for a book report for class. I thought I would read it as well. I’m one of those moms who gets interested in their kids’ activities. She was a dancer, so I loved dance. She was in musical theatre, so I loved musical theatre. Well, those were easy as I’d always loved those subjects.

But my son was in roller hockey, so I loved roller hockey. He was a Police Explorer, so I loved his polo shirt with POLICE EXPLORER printed on the back and the expensive billy club-like flashlight. Those were new things for me.

So was ASL and the deaf community. But when my daughter took those classes, we went to deaf theatre, we went to Caroline, or Change (not deaf theatre) to watch the sign interpreters. And I read her assigned books.

So I wasn’t thinking memoir when I read this book. I was thinking, “Wow, now I know what it is like to grow up as the hearing child of deaf parents.”

That’s the beauty of memoir. To actually immerse oneself in the life of another person. That person can be similar to the reader or very different. It really doesn’t matter because it is still someone else’s life.

I learned about the family members and, through them, had a look at various aspects of living deaf in this country over a period spanning many decades of the 20th century. And I was moved by the protagonist, her situation, and by the character of her parents.

When I look back at this book and all the other memoirs I’ve read, I do think that they satisfy my desire to live my own life and yet to be a fly on the wall in the lives of others.

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