Itani, Frances. Deafening. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2003.

This story is filled with such tragedy. In Part I Grania O’Neill is just five years old when she loses her hearing after a bout with scarlet fever. Her family is desperate to make her normal, to help her fit in the the hearing world. Her grandmother and sister devote themselves to helping her cope. When it is obvious she can’t, Grania, at nine years old, is sent away to a boarding school for the deaf. Part II covers one year. The year is 1915 and Grania is now 19 and working at Gibson Hospital. She meets and marries a hearing man, Jim Lloyd. In Part III Jim has gone to help in the war effort as a medic. The violence he encounters at this time assaults his senses to the core, but it is the thought of Grania and their love that sustains him. Part IIII (that is deliberate) covers 1917 – 1918. Jim has been gone for two years and Grania remains vigilant for his letters and watchful of the changing war efforts. The book ends with Part V, 1919 and the end of the war.  So much has changed during this time. So many people have died and relationships are forever changed. I won’t spoil the end except to say it was beautifully written. A book I couldn’t put down.

Telling lines, “What she can’t see she can’t be expected to understand” (p 14), “Words fly through the air and fall, static and dead” (p 43), “He had never known a language that so thoroughly encompassed love” (p 132), and “War ground on like the headless, thoughtless monster that could not be stopped” (p 237).

Reason read: October is National Protect Your Hearing Month.

Book trivia: Deafening was written as a tribute to Itani’s grandmother who was became deaf at 18 months.

Author fact: Deafening is Frances Itani’s first book.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Other Peoples Shoes” (p 182).

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