A LOSS FOR WORDS: The Story of Deafness in a Family by Lou Ann Walker

A LOSS FOR WORDS: The Story of Deafness in a Family

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A personal journey of introspection by a young woman whose childhood was spent as parent to her deaf parents, a journey that led her finally to an inner peace and a resolution of her feelings toward her situation. Walker, a New York editor, grew up in Indianapolis, where her deaf father operated the linotype for the Indianapolis Star-News. There, she was the ears and voice at her home. Little by little, this premature adulthood caused Walker to develop a combination of guilt, shame, and resentment for the loss of her childhood to circumstance. Following her education at Harvard, the author moved to New York, where she took up editing, but what's more, began leading a double life--editing by day and working to help teach deaf people in a special school. She became involved with a New York street gang, called the Nasty Homicides, a group of deaf street toughs, driven to violence by their deafness. Walker became obsessed by the gang, and through their plight, she came to understand herself, her parents, and deaf people as a whole. The core of her tale is that the deaf have always been treated as second-class citizens. For example, after visiting the New York Society for the Deaf, on E. 14th St., she observes that ""it is a curious societal comment that the major agencies in New York serving the blind were on the genteel upper East Side or on tree-lined streets in Chelsea. The Society for the Deaf was in a place the police had forsaken."" There is not enough of this sort of insight. Instead, there is too much personal carping. If people are looking for real help for the deaf, they must search for it elsewhere.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1986
Publisher: Harper & Row