Synopses & Reviews
Literary Nonfiction. Memoir. Jewish Studies. When Jennifer Amy Rose's firstborn baby fails her postnatal hearing test, Rose is stunned: How will she and her husband, both hearing, raise a deaf child? How will they communicate with a baby who can't hear their voices? Although her mother is hard of hearing, Rose has no real experience with deafness. But then she discovers a hidden history, going back generations to the ghettoes of Eastern Europe and the culture of shame that was attached to the "deaf and dumb." Now the parent of two congenitally deaf children, Rose shares her journey into the modern world of the hearing impaired, and the tough decisions she and her husband have made about hearing aids, cochlear implants, and sign language. She also travels back in time to imagine her silent relatives who had few options but showed surprising creativity in dealing with a world that preferred to ignore them. IF A TREE FALLS is a memoir, a tale of the imagination, a guide for families with special-needs children and adults, and a poignant meditation on life's most unpredictable moments.
"Rosner turns what could have been a depressing story into a gentle meditation on sound and silence, love and family. She writes with honesty and empathy about her daughter Sophia's diagnosis with deafness and the adjustments she and her husband had to make. She describes the birth of her second daughter, Juliet, a few years later (who received a similar diagnosis) and shares the programs and technology available to help the hearing impaired. 'Bill and I were talkers. We were constantly debating, questioning, arguing, doubting, agreeing, wondering aloud. And we were hearers, in the hearing world. A soundless, wordless world was unimaginable to us.' The author can't resist looking into the hows and whys of her situation and examines her family tree only to find relatives generations ago who had been deaf. She also works to reconcile her difficult relationship with her mother and asks frequent theoretical questions: 'What are the elements essential for identity, for personhood, for perception and existence?' She fills the discussion with philosophy and grace." Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
Deep and moving truths fall out of this enchanting memoir, as deafness becomes a means of exploring the grave obstacles we all face in knowing what it is like to be another."Rebecca Newberger Goldstein
, author of 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction
"This beautiful book is about listeningreally listeningto children, history, and one's own knowing heart. It's an exquisite memoir, crossed with poetry and the unmistakable shine of truth."Catherine Newman, author of Waiting for Birdy
"With profound honesty and endearing humility, Rosner writes about the searing emotional challenges that parents can face, and about absorbing these lessons and moving into deeper wisdom. A beautiful, deeply felt exploration of love and hard choices."Josh Swiller, author of The Unheard: A Memoir of Deafness and Africa
This wrenching journey into deafness from the standpoint of a mother, a wife, a daughter, a philosopher, and a Jew explores the meaning of sound in a soundless world. If a Tree Falls shows the extent to which what we hear comes not only from our contemporaries but from the people who came before us and those who will succeed us.”Ilan Stavans, author of On Borrowed Words: A Memoir of Language
"Jennifer Rosner's If a Tree Falls is the kind of memoir that reminds the reader how we are all part of the same long line: complicated selves finding our way in a world that challenges us to discover our deeper resilience and untold strengths."Vicki Forman, author of This Lovely Life: A Memoir of Premature Motherhood
Jennifer Rosner's revelatory memoir explores family, silence, and what it means to be heard. When her daughters are born deaf, Rosner is stunned. Then she discovers a hidden history of deafness in her family, going back generations to the Jewish enclaves of Eastern Europe. Traveling back in time, she imagines her silent relatives, who showed surprising creativity in dealing with a world that preferred to ignore them.
Rosner shares her journey into the modern world of deafness, and the controversial decisions she and her husband have made about hearing aids, cochlear implants and sign language. An imaginative odyssey, punctuated by memories of being unheard, Rosner's story of her daughters' deafness is at heart a story of whether she — a mother with perfect hearing — will hear her children.
If a Tree Falls is a memoir, a tale of the imagination, a guide for families with special-needs children and adults, and a poignant meditation on life's most unpredictable moments.
Hearing parents battle to do what's best for their deaf children.
About the Author
Jennifer Rosner's writings have appeared in The Massachusetts Review, The Faster Times, Wondertime Magazine, and the Hastings Center Report. She holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford University and is the editor of The Messy Self. She lives in Massachusetts with her family.