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Hands of My Father: A Hearing Boy, His Deaf Parents, and the Language of Love Hardcover – February 3, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
Born to two deaf parents, American Sign Language was Uhlberg's first language; then, English, spoken and written. As a very young child, he was forced to "translate" the hearing world for his parents. He learned early on that words are often painful but sometimes wonderful. Uhlberg endured a child's shame at seeing his father being treated like a child himself simply because he was deaf. (He translated slurs and hateful words exactly as they were said, because his father demanded it.)
Even though his childhood was stunted by having to act as his parents' go-between with the hearing world as well as by having to be responsible for his epileptic younger brother, it's obvious Ulberg was raised with love and concern. Afraid his precious new baby was born deaf, his father went to great lengths to make sure Myron could hear. During the Great Depression, Ulberg slept with a radio always playing beside his bed -- first a "baby" table-top model and then a gigantic Philco aptly described as looking like a cathedral -- because his parents worried that his hearing might waste away if not used.
This book is rich with love of all kinds: Mother Sarah's love-through-food and his father's love-through-touch, the boy's love for his father. There's old love and lost love and love of 1940's comic books. In Uhlberg's word, Love, like ASL, is varied and knee-deep in contextual meaning. And somewhere along the way -- after the cathedral radio and before his first library card -- it's obvious that Myron Uhlberg fell in love words.Read more ›
I read it. I loved it. I am confident others will, too. Uhlberg can indeed speak the language of love--not just the sign language he used to communicate with his deaf parents, but the written language he uses to communicate to his readers. I have not read many memoirs that speak as straight to the heart as this one does. It doesn't rely for emotional appeal on overblown metaphors or flights of fancy, but on honesty and a willingness to share. At heart a love story between Uhlberg and his father Lou (though Sarah is not shirked), it is all the more moving because it is so real...and so very well written. With clear, fluid prose and well-chosen detail, Uhlberg evokes both imagination and emotion. I laughed; I cried; I hated to put it down.
One of Lou's greatest fears was the loss of his ability to communicate. His parents, like Sarah's, had never really learned to sign; he never knew them. Gazing on a child in an iron lung, he could not help but think of the horror of being so cut off.Read more ›
"I was never able to get used to the initial look of incomprehension that bloomed on the stranger's face when my father failed to answer, and the way that look turned to shock at the sound of his harsh voice announcing his deafness, then metastasized into revulsion, at which point the stranger would turn and flee as if my father's deafness were a contagious disease. Even now, seventy long years in the future, the memory of the shame I sometimes felt as a child is as corrosive as battery acid in my veins, and bile rises unbidden in my throat."
What is clear from reading this book is that Uhlberg's Father was an exceptional man - a man who persevered with sheer determination and will power in a hearing world.
`"Hearing people think I'm stupid. I am not stupid." My father's hands fell silent.'
I found myself yearning for more details on how Uhlberg's Father and Mother coped in an unforgiving environment in the harsh depression era - more details on their struggle of being deaf in a hearing world - how they managed to raise two infants in a hearing world.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Growing up with love & responsibility as most of us never have. Sharing words of another adult from a very young age helps one boy mature very quickly with communication skills of... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Virgil Gant
Very heartwarming to hear about this father/son relationship and sad to read how we treated the deaf in my mother's era. I pray we are better people today.Published 4 months ago by Linda Flynn
Powerful glimpse into the life on one Child Of Deaf Adults!Published 6 months ago by Aimee M Garcia
This is a touching story told from an unusual perspective. I learned so much about the deaf and the ways society has treated them.Published 6 months ago by bemerson29
This was a selection for our book group and I would never have picked it without that motivation. It is a great book. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Classy Grandma
Having been a French teacher for forty years I really enjoyed the author's detailed description of how beautiful and more descriptive sign language is than spoken languages are. Read morePublished 12 months ago by E.S. Shaffer
I enjoyed this book. It is well written and full of color and feeling. The poignancy of how much he and his family were hurt by the reactions of people who can hear, but should... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Maddalena