Shea's narrative derives its true power from the eloquence and intelligence with which he illuminates a world that may be...

The moving, poignant account of how a brilliant lawyer came to terms with the midlife discovery of his own partial deafness.

Attorney Shea heard sounds through an "invisible curtain" that gradually descended upon him after a boyhood bout with scarlet fever. Because he was so young when he began to lose his hearing, the author grew up believing that the world was not only quieter than it was, but that "spoken words were a riddle...everyone had to figure out." People communicated through a colorful, strangely beautiful "language of lyricals," which Shea uses throughout the text, to which he had to give meaning. Over time, he found that he could understand what others said to him by reading both lips and contexts. Shea excelled in school and attended Yale and then Columbia Law School. But academic success came only by dint of great effort and caused the breakup of a relationship that would haunt him into middle age. It wasn't until Shea was 34 and moving into a new job that he was finally diagnosed as profoundly deaf. Despite hearing aids and other sound-amplifying devices, however, Shea continued to struggle in his professional life. A meeting with a hearing-impaired former brain surgeon, who advised him to have the courage to "break [his] own heart," finally convinced Shea that, for the good of himself and his family, he needed to put aside his profession and learn to embrace the partial soundlessness that defined his reality. The book is a powerful expression of loss, acceptance and the very human need to communicate.

Shea's narrative derives its true power from the eloquence and intelligence with which he illuminates a world that may be unfamiliar to many readers.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-306-82193-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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