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Hands of My Father: A Hearing Boy, His Deaf Parents, and the Language of Love

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Hands of My Father: A Hearing Boy, His Deaf Parents, and the Language of Love Cover

ISBN13: 9780553806885
ISBN10: 0553806882
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

By turns heart-tugging and hilarious, Myron Uhlbergs memoir tells the story of growing up as the hearing son of deaf parents—and his life in a world that he found unaccountably beautiful, even as he longed to escape it.

“Does sound have rhythm?” my father asked. “Does it rise and fall like the ocean? Does it come and go like the wind?”

Such were the kinds of questions that Myron Uhlbergs deaf father asked him from earliest childhood, in his eternal quest to decipher, and to understand, the elusive nature of sound. Quite a challenge for a young boy, and one of many he would face.

Uhlbergs first language was American Sign Language, the first sign he learned: “I love you.” But his second language was spoken English—and no sooner did he learn it than he was called upon to act as his fathers ears and mouth in the stores and streets of the neighborhood beyond their silent apartment in Brooklyn.

Resentful as he sometimes was of the heavy burdens heaped on his small shoulders, he nonetheless adored his parents, who passed on to him their own passionate engagement with life. These two remarkable people married and had children at the absolute bottom of the Great Depression—an expression of extraordinary optimism, and typical of the joy and resilience they were able to summon at even the darkest of times.

From the beaches of Coney Island to Ebbets Field, where he watches his fathers hero Jackie Robinson play ball, from the branch library above the local Chinese restaurant where the odor of chow mein rose from the pages of the books he devoured to the hospital ward where he visits his polio-afflicted friend, this is a memoir filled with stories about growing up not just as the child of two deaf people but as a book-loving, mischief-making, tree-climbing kid during the remarkably eventful period that spanned the Depression, the War, and the early fifties.

Review:

"In this memoir about growing up the son of deaf parents in 1940s Brooklyn, Uhlberg recalls the time his uncle told him he saw his nephew as 'cleaved into two parts, half hearing, half deaf, forever joined together.' These worlds come together in this work, his first for adults, as Uhlberg, who has written several children's books (including Dad, Jackie, and Me, which won a 2006 Patterson Prize) effortlessly weaves his way through a childhood of trying to interpret the speaking world for his parents while trying to learn the lessons of life from the richly executed 'Technicolor language' of his father's hands. With the interconnection of two different worlds, there is bound to be humor, and Uhlberg is able to laugh at himself and his family's situation. He recounts unsuccessfully trying to reinterpret his teacher's constructive criticism for his parents and finding himself pressed into duty interpreting the Joe Louis prize fights for his dad. There are, of course, more poignant moments, as Uhlberg tries to explain the sound of waves for his curious father or when he finds himself in charge of caring for his epileptic baby brother because his parents can't hear the seizures. As Uhlberg grows up through the polio epidemic, WWII and Jackie Robinson's arrival in Brooklyn, he also grows out of his insecurities about his family and the way they are viewed as outsiders. Instead, looking back, he gives readers a well-crafted, heartwarming tale of family love and understanding." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

Myron Uhlberg, the author of this coming-of-age memoir, was born in Brooklyn in the depths of the Depression, the son of two profoundly deaf parents. They went on to have a second son, Irwin, who was tormented through much of his childhood by nightly grand mal seizures. It fell to Myron, as soon as he learned to speak, to become not just the translator but the interpreter, the diplomat, for virtually... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Synopsis:

By turns heart-tugging and hilarious, Uhlberg's memoir tells the story of growing up as the hearing son of deaf parents--and his life in a world that he found unaccountably beautiful, even as he longed to escape it.

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About the Author

Myron Uhlberg is the critically acclaimed and award-winning author of a number of childrens books. He lives with his wife in Santa Monica and Palm Springs.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Shoshana, June 18, 2009 (view all comments by Shoshana)
A sweet but not treacly memoir by a hearing son of deaf parents. Uhlberg nicely balances characterizations of his parents' speech (particularly his father's) as beautiful, visual, and expressive against the limitations imposed on them by a hearing world that sees them as unintelligent. He also articulates well his frustration at having to act as their translator and to serve in a parentified role, especially in relation to his younger brother, who had epilepsy. A good memoir to teach with as the family members' multiple identities (e.g., deaf and Jewish) highlight the complexity of characterizing people solely be reference to their most evident characteristics.
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couponqueen, April 6, 2009 (view all comments by couponqueen)
This son's loving memior of life with his hearing impaired parents is a straight forward and loving tale. Myron writes in such a way that you feel as if you've been transported back to the depression era and are part of Mr. Uhlberg's life.

His description of what is was like to be the mouthpiece for his father and sometimes his mother pulls at your heart strings.

You will so much more appreciate the sense of hearing after you read this.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
christopher.horne, February 18, 2009 (view all comments by christopher.horne)
What a wonderful memoir this is, and a rare one. Although it is about a hearing boy being raised by deaf parents, to me the story is really a different one---one of a child adored by his parents. Although the burden of translation was a heavy one at times for Myron, shining through is the total love his father and mother had for him. His father especially showed his love in so many ways---by spending endless time with his son, by buying him elaborate presents on a working man's salary---I loved reading about the new toy train engines that came home every day in a row for a while---by watching him play football even when it involved a train trip, by telling him how the world worked and how it is for a deaf man in a hearing world, by taking him to see the Dodgers, by being there. There are so many memoirs about parents being cruel, but I have to hope many parents and families are like the one shown here, filled with love.
I was also struck by the description of the Brooklyn public schools in the 30s and 40s. They sound like a progressive and interesting place, with lots of arts and crafts and music and not just the three R's being pounded in.
I will look for Uhlberg's children's books.
Certainly recommended!
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(4 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780553806885
Author:
Uhlberg, Myron
Publisher:
Bantam
Subject:
Deaf
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Childhood Memoir
Subject:
Deaf - Family relationships - United States
Subject:
Children of deaf parents -- United States.
Subject:
Biography-Childhood Memoir
Subject:
Biography - General
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20090231
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
BandW PHOTOS THROUGHOUT
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
8.20x5.60x.90 in. .83 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Ear Nose and Throat
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Hearing and Ears
Languages » Deaf Studies » Deaf Culture

Hands of My Father: A Hearing Boy, His Deaf Parents, and the Language of Love Used Hardcover
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$5.50 In Stock
Product details 256 pages Bantam - English 9780553806885 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this memoir about growing up the son of deaf parents in 1940s Brooklyn, Uhlberg recalls the time his uncle told him he saw his nephew as 'cleaved into two parts, half hearing, half deaf, forever joined together.' These worlds come together in this work, his first for adults, as Uhlberg, who has written several children's books (including Dad, Jackie, and Me, which won a 2006 Patterson Prize) effortlessly weaves his way through a childhood of trying to interpret the speaking world for his parents while trying to learn the lessons of life from the richly executed 'Technicolor language' of his father's hands. With the interconnection of two different worlds, there is bound to be humor, and Uhlberg is able to laugh at himself and his family's situation. He recounts unsuccessfully trying to reinterpret his teacher's constructive criticism for his parents and finding himself pressed into duty interpreting the Joe Louis prize fights for his dad. There are, of course, more poignant moments, as Uhlberg tries to explain the sound of waves for his curious father or when he finds himself in charge of caring for his epileptic baby brother because his parents can't hear the seizures. As Uhlberg grows up through the polio epidemic, WWII and Jackie Robinson's arrival in Brooklyn, he also grows out of his insecurities about his family and the way they are viewed as outsiders. Instead, looking back, he gives readers a well-crafted, heartwarming tale of family love and understanding." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , By turns heart-tugging and hilarious, Uhlberg's memoir tells the story of growing up as the hearing son of deaf parents--and his life in a world that he found unaccountably beautiful, even as he longed to escape it.
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