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The Sound of Us Hardcover – June 7, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Hardcover; First Edition edition (June 7, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425203026
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425203026
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,836,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Willis (A Good Distance) gracefully explores the world of foster care through the eyes of 48-year-old Alice Marlowe, an interpreter for the deaf living a lonely life in Cleveland. When Alice receives a late-night phone call from a six-year-old girl whose mother has disappeared, the last thing she expects to do is apply to become her foster parent, but one look at beautiful, dark-skinned Larissa Benton changes everything. Alice's maternal impulse surprises her—"How did this child and I become us?" she wonders—as she attends foster parenting classes and wonders if she can cope. Willis allows for ambiguity in her moving story: when Michelle, Larissa's white, wayward mother, returns, she's neither a villain nor a victim; Alice, who converses with her dead twin brother, is not a saint. When Michelle moves into Alice's home to be closer to her daughter, the narrative reaches its height of tension; Willis shows both the safety and generosity of Alice's world and the unpredictable but loving home that Michelle would provide. A careful, tender story of the complex bonds of motherhood, this novel doesn't shy away from its problems, but still comes to rest on the side of its wonders.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

A careful, tender story of the complex bonds of motherhood. -- Publishers Weekly

I've loved all her books and this one most of all. -- Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Sarah Willis is a 2014 Creative Workforce Fellow. The Creative Workforce Fellowship is a program of the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture. The Fellowship program is supported by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 19 customer reviews
Over all I enjoyed the book, it was an enjoyable easy read.
Paula D. Thompson
I felt drawn to them, as well as the rest of the characters in the book, and very invested in where the story took them.
K. Caldwell
The story line, the pace and the writing were all well done.
Sandy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Marty on July 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Willis offers the best novel I've ever read on foster care--especially as it relates to interracial issues. Her main character, Alice Marlowe, is a bit of a stiff old maid who comes ALIVE when she rescues (is rescued BY, actually), little Larissa, an adorable child abandoned (maybe) by her mother. As a deaf sign language interpreter, Alice has been able to live one step away from Life, merely translating the frustrations and anger and joys of others. Now, with the recent death of her twin brother and the entry of Larissa into her stagnant life, she becomes engaged with the joys and passsions that life brings, must go through one of those "life passages" that make it all worthwhile. It's about love--love for others most of all, but also love for oneself

I can't recommend this novel highly enough.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Stansberry on August 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"The Sound of Us" is one of those novels I finish reading and think, "It all looks so simple, so natural. Why couldn't I write that?"

Well, it isn't so simple and I couldn't have written it.

This is the essence of Sarah Willis' craft: creating characters both real and memorable, stories compelling and satisfying. Her latest novel is the story of a good deed--coming to the aid of a young girl who was left alone by her mother--that might, in fact, have done more harm than good. Neither the situation nor the characters are unambiguous, and that is the essence of powerful literature. Readers are left to ponder the truth of things for themselves.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. Morse on December 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
My mom picked up this book for me thinking I would be able to relate to it because I grew up near Cleveland, I'm deaf and have worked with many interpreters and I've also been a foster parent (this book was definitely written for me). I couldn't believe how accurately the author portrayed the emotional ups and downs of being a foster parent, the struggle between foster mother and biological mother and the whole legal system. The characters are so real and the writing so powerful. I loved the use of ASL (American Sign Language) conversations between the main character and her foster child, as well as between other deaf characters. I didn't want this story to end.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By N. Larrabee on October 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Alice Marlowe, 48 years old, single, a sign-language interpret is awakened by a phone call one night. Larissa Benton, 6 years old, is left by herself for 19 hours. Larissa quickly becomes a foster child. Alice decides she wants to help Larissa. They had already formed a unique bond; Alice teaching Larissa how to sign. Michelle, Larissa's mother, is distraught at losing her child, and haunts Alice. It is heart-warming to see how Alice's parents and nephews interact with Larissa. Alice struggles with learning how to be a good foster mother. Larissa rescues Alice from her despair and loneliness. Skillfully written novel that shows how powerful love can be no matter whom we are.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on June 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In Cleveland, fortyish Alice Marlowe lives life alone except for her cat Sampson. She dates, ahs friends, and her parents still live in Columbus, but the sign language interpreter expects she will die alone. That has been her feelings since her twin brother died Vince, who still "converses" with her.

In the middle of the night the phone rings. On the other end is a very young sounding voice desperately asking for Aunt Teya. Alice informs her she dialed the wrong number. The frightened kid hangs up. Alice worried about the girl uses 69 to insure the kid is safe, but instead learns the child's mommy has not come home in quite a while; Alice tries Teya's number only gets a message. Unable to leave six years old Larissa by herself, Alice coaxes the child into giving her the address even as she calls the police. They bond, but the child has turned mute since foster home placement. Alice applies to become her foster mother, which she succeeds in doing, but worries how lonely she will be when the mother of her beloved Larissa returns.

Sarah Willis writes a fabulous inspirational tale that focuses on everyone's needs to love and be loved regardless of ethnicity, race, religion, sexual preference or other divisive isms. The story line grips the audience from the moment Larissa dials the wrong number and continually provides the reader with an inside look at the soul of Alice and through her that of Larissa and the missing mother. Mindful of Losing Isaiah, THE SOUND OF US is a strong thought provoking tale.

Harriet Klausner
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By V. K. Noll on February 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
By the time I reached page 4 of this book, I had to look again at the book jacket to confirm it wasn't an autobiography. Sarah Willis achieves such a sense of reality so quickly that it is almost impossible not to believe her story is real.

This is not a novel of easy answers where the story turns out the way you want it to. This is a novel that changes you, and makes you turn out the way the story wants you to. No simple answers, no pat endings. Just an eloquent, musical, and incredibly deep story about real life. You will read it in a day, but you will think about it for a long time. This is a classic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brandon on March 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is my first book by Sarah Willis and having finished it, I look forward to reading all of her other novels.

I was swept into the story and the writing style within the first 20 pages... so much so that I finished reading it in one night.

I like that the author accurately describes, though briefly, the legal process involved in taking a child into state custody and foster care placement. Seemingly by accident the narrator falls in love with a young girl who eventually ends up living with her. The narrator lets the reader in on her personal thoughts as she goes about learning to be a single parent to someone else's child. I found the characters believeable and their interactions consistent with the time and place settings.

I highly recommend this book.
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