My Sense of Silence

My Sense of Silence : Memoirs of a Childhood with Deafness

3.35 (39 ratings by Goodreads)
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He remembers lying awake at night, every muscle rigidly alert, listening for intruders. He remembers frantically hammering on the door while his mother's oblivious footsteps passed back and forth inside. He remembers acting as a go-between in the marketplace, the doctor's office, the parent-teacher conference, the synagogue, the post office: a liaison between sound and silence. Lennard J. Davis grew up as the hearing child of deaf parents. In this candid, affecting, and often funny memoir, he recalls the joys and confusions of this special world, especially his complex and sometimes difficult relationships with his working-class Jewish immigrant parents. Growing up in a crowded one-bedroom South Bronx tenement, Lennard felt himself "a hearing outsider" caught between two worlds. Davis recounts childhood loneliness and fear, adolescent frustration compounded by embarrassment at his parents' deafness, and intellectual aspirations that ran counter to their compliant stoicism.He vividly describes his father's devotion to race walking and to televised baseball games, a trip to England with his mother on the Queen Elizabeth, and his successful efforts to relocate his family to a better apartment. He also recounts his problematic relationship with his elder brother, whom he both idolized and feared, and his college years at Columbia University, where (to his parents' chagrin) he participated in the historic campus demonstrations of May 1968. In a moving epilogue, Davis tells of his adult involvement with CODA (Children of Deaf Adults) and of coming to terms with a surprising realization. "Though I was hearing," he says, "deafness was in me." Gracefully slipping through memory, regret, longing, and redemption, "My Sense of Silence" is an eloquent remembrance of human ties and human more

Product details

  • Hardback | 176 pages
  • 144.8 x 215.6 x 17.5mm | 383.19g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252025334
  • 9780252025334

Review quote

Selected as an "Editors Choice" by the Chicago Tribune "This is a man revealing himself, touched and startled by his act of exposure, discovering and offering the old truth: every life matters. Reminding us of this is what memoir does best... An engrossing contribution to the genre." -- Margaret Diehl, New York Times Book Review "Davis's new memoir focuses on how his parents' deafness affected him. He writes frankly about the difficulties he encountered, such as his inability to call his parents when he needed comfort during the night and his having to serve as their interpreter... The writer also infuses his writing with humor and the sense of love and respect he developed for his parents... Davis's descriptions of the richness and complexity of sign language are the most fascinating portions of the book. Highly recommended." -- Library Journal "Good memoirs with staying power are hard to find any year. One of this year's very best is ... My Sense of Silence. Davis succeeds brilliantly in doing many things. His is an outstanding personal and cultural study of deafness as well as a savvy and moving intellectual and political autobiography." -- The Bloomsbury Review "A truly poetic reflection flanked by Davis's ambivalent and unresolved childhood... Davis blends so much painstaking detail into his writing, pulling at the reader's emotions as he processes his own odd experience. The book convincingly paints the struggles of a young man who must 'recover the child, deaf-self' that he leaves behind 'merging it with [a] hearing self.'" -- The Minnesota Daily "It is a book that acquaints us with a very different world, and gives us a sense of how well Davis' parents actually coped within it... Davis writes very well. Often his well-chosen word makes the difference between an ordinary statement and a remarkable observation." -- Anne Rassweiler, The Times. (Trenton, NJ) "A loving but unsentimental, straightforward and detailed account of a son growing up in a Bronx tenement with deaf parents in the 1950s... Nostalgic about signing, Davis is fascinated by the many complexities of language, both written and spoken." -- WE Magazine "Engaging and provocative memoir... Renders painful experiences with such richness and humor that the worlds within the pain are revealed." -- Anne Finger, ADVANCE PRAISE "A provocative and personal odyssey of growing up with deaf parents, remarkable for its candor, humor and originality. Davis's memories are passionate and fierce as he pieces together the stories of his family, probing the elusive relationships between childhood and adult life. Highly recommended." -- Paul Preston, author of Mother Father Deaf: Living between Sound and Silence and co-director of the National Resource Center for Parents with Disabilitiesshow more

Rating details

39 ratings
3.35 out of 5 stars
5 10% (4)
4 41% (16)
3 28% (11)
2 15% (6)
1 5% (2)
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