Jeri Parker

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Jeri Parker grew up scrambling along riverbanks and forest paths in Idaho. She spent summers at her grandparents' sawmill near Yellowstone National Park. If it rained, she and her cousins gathered in the cookhouse and made up stories about their futures.
Jeri never lost the habit of telling stories. They are now as likely to deal with the past as the future. Her recently published memoir, A THOUSAND VOICES, is an account of her remarkable relationship with a wild, beautiful deaf boy who, for a time, took the place of the son she'd lost. Her book is a song of love and grief and a profound meditation on the limits--and the limitlessness--of human language.
Other publications include UNEASY SURVIVORS: FIVE WOMEN WRITERS (now out of print) and short stories and poems in literary journals. She has recently completed a novel, UNMOORED.
Awards for her writing include first place prizes from the Utah Arts Council and from the Henry’s Fork Foundation in Idaho. A THOUSAND VOICES was recently named one of the best books of 2013 by BlueInk Review.
An artist as well as writer, Jeri's paintings hang in public and private collections in London, Paris, Athens, Istanbul, Frankfurt, and Sydney as well as half the states.



BY Jeri Parker • POSTED ON Nov. 18, 2011

As a young teacher, Parker is introduced to a deaf child who immediately captures her heart; they communicate with each other beyond a standard language system and forge a friendship that lasts a lifetime.

Parker first met 10-year-old Carlos Louis Salazar at the Utah School for the Deaf in 1964. Deaf since infancy, Salazar charmed the 24-year-old high school teacher with his mischievousness and unique brand of communicating. In addition to signing, he learned at school the complexities of speech and how tongue, teeth and breath affect sounds. He manipulated these tools, virtually re-creating language, to suit his individuality as he connected with others. What some heard as broken speech, incorrect grammar or poor communication skills, Parker perceived as creativity bordering on brilliance. They developed a mother-son relationship grounded in unconditional love that saw them through Salazar’s reckless adolescence, illness and premature death. His brief life forever changed Parker’s notion of language as a limited construct. With her rich, poetic prose that skillfully articulates nuanced emotions and thoughts, Parker does full justice to her friend’s memory. Her book transcends the ubiquitous “me” and “I” of memoir and hovers on the brink of being a compassionate cautionary tale: love as well as you can, look beyond the surface, appreciate your gifts and others’, listen and learn. Though the first chapter opens with Salazar’s death, the author doesn’t dwell on the loss. Instead, she focuses on Salazar’s singular character, his triumphs and missteps and his effect on others. Like a parent, she sometimes overpraises achievements that others might consider ordinary, yet she never excuses his forays into drugs and crime. What broadens Parker’s story from exclusively intimate to universally relatable are her numerous examples of the many ways to communicate: the doctor who limited interactions with Salazar to cold, scientific jargon; the bristly nurse who ruffled her patient’s hair to express affection. Neither resolving nor overly theorizing her experiences, Parker allows readers to glean what they will from her heartfelt story. 

A loving tribute to friendship that proves how one person can influence the life of another.

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-0983629405

Page count: 213pp

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

Awards, Press & Interests

Favorite author


Favorite book

Fifth Business, Robertson Davies

Favorite line from a book

"I would sooner have a two-pound loaf of white bread or indeed an eight-pound loaf of bran bread and a couple of dozen salted pilchards, than all the herbs described by Dioscorides, even in Dr. Laguna's magnificent edition." Don Quixote


Rexburg, Idaho

Passion in life

Fly fishing

A THOUSAND VOICES : Best Books of 2013, Blue Ink Review, 2013

KUER RadioWest by Doug Fabrizio (NPR Affiliate)

UPR Access by Tom Williams (NPR Affiliate)

Jeri Parker Reading at Salt Lake City’s The King’s English


Uneasy Survivors, Five Women Writers

An anthology with commentary about the influence of Sarah Orne Jewett, Willa Cather, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Ellen Glasgow, Edith Wharton
ISBN: 0-87905-061-6


A daughter, Rennie, searches her own life as she comes to terms with her dark father, who dies in a fire in his bedroom; her married lover; her damaged twin brother; her frightened mother. As she reviews the half-told tales of her family, she asks What is a life, What is it we do that lasts, How can it simply stop? What are the echoes that will remain? Much of the remembering takes place in a cabin in the Centennial Mountains in Idaho, where Rennie finds solace in meadows and streams and woods.
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