The Sound of Silence

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 22 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

In this adaptation of his adult memoire, I learned about Uhlberg's experience being the hearing son of deaf parents from his birth until he went to college. There were fun times and bad times, happy times and sad times, but what was never lacking was love. 

This book hit me straight in the feels right out of the gate, and it's a great testament to how well Uhlberg conveyed his emotions to me. I felt his frustration, rage, shame, worry, confusion, pride, and joy. Many times, he had conflicting emotions, which was understandable, because of his situation, and he did an incredible job helping me feel the full weight of his struggle.  

One thing that stood out, was the amount of responsibility young Myron had to take on. At an early age, he served as his father's ears and voice in the hearing world. He often had to translate for his father, and felt stuck somewhere between being a kid and being an adult. It wasn't just his parents he cared for either. His younger brother suffered from epilepsy, and Myron was tasked with caring for him as well. He never let this responsibility snowball into resentment, because his love for his brother was so fierce. It took him a little longer to fully embrace his role in his father's life, but he made peace with that as well. 

I really loved all these snapshots of Myron's life, which not only allowed me to witness his family dynamic, but also gave me a window into Deaf culture during the depression era. The prejudice the deaf faced was terrible, but Myron's father didn't let it keep him from succeeding in his endeavors. 

This book was written with that warm and lovely nostalgic tone that I adore. That coupled with the fact, that Myron grew up close to my old Brooklyn neighborhood, made this a fun walk down memory lane. I had so such a great time touring Brooklyn, and I really appreciated the historical bits he chose to weave into this story. 

Overall, this was a beautiful and touching story of the complicated, but loving, relationship between a father and son, which warmed my heart and filled me with joy.
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Disclaimer: I received an eARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Sound of Silence is a young reader’s adaptation of Myron Uhlberg’s memoir Hands of My Father. Full disclosure, I didn’t even realize that while I was reading the book which certainly speaks to the quality of the adaptation.

Myron Uhlberg was born in the Great Depression era to two deaf parents. At the time, deafness was greatly misunderstood, and when Myron was born, they weren’t sure if he would be hearing or deaf. However, Myron was born hearing, and unlike his parents who became deaf after illnesses in childhood, he retained his hearing.

Because Myron was hearing, he ended up acting as a de facto liaison between his parents’ world and the hearing world. He served as their interpreter in many situations, including at stores, doctor’s offices, and parent-teacher conferences.

Because Myron didn’t quite fit in to either world, hearing or deaf, he struggled a bit as a child with making friends. It didn’t help either that when his younger brother came along, his brother was diagnosed with epilepsy.

The young-reader adaptation has short easy-to-consume chapters, and the story of Uhlberg’s life is an interesting subject, one that I would have devoured when I was in the targeted age group for this book. Younger readers who are like I was will definitely be interested.

The Sound of Silence releases on May 1.
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This book was a beautiful story bringing the reader into Myron’s upbringing as a hearing boy in a deaf family. The vocabulary was so rich, and the experiences from his life were fascinating! I didn’t want to put the book down and can’t wait to share it with my students!
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This is a wonderful “junior” adaptation of the full book. I enjoyed this version as much as the original one. It’s a wonderful look at deaf culture and how it effects everyone.
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This is a wonderful memoir about the hearing child of deaf parents. Uhlberg writes clearly and vividly  about his childhood in Coney Island in the 1940s.  He also manages to put his life in historical context, really giving the feel of life in Brooklyn in the WW2 era. 

Translating for his father renders Myron an adult, but as soon as it is over he returns to being a child. There’s often an internal conflict—not wanting to translate offensive comments on either side. This translating makes Myron mature quickly, as does his brother's epilepsy. Yet, he's still a child, climbing buildings, escaping bullies, and playing in the neighborhood. Never self-pitying, The Sound of Silence is written with kindness for all the characters. 

Myron not only interprets, but his father often asked him to describe sounds to him, like thunder, wind, waves:
“‘Wet like waves!’ I finally signed. ‘Waves sound like a billion water drops breaking apart when they smack down on the hard sand, all the tiny sounds joining to make one great sound. A wet, falling ocean sound,’ I added desperately.” 
Perhaps this birthed the writer.  

Wonderful story, highly recommend.
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Born during the Great Depression, Myron had a typical Brooklyn life... except for the fact that both of his parents were Deaf. From the relatives banging pots and pans to make sure he could hear to having to translate the outside world, for his parents everywhere from the butcher's shop to parent-teacher conferences, Myron's job was always to help support his parents. When his younger brother was born, he was the first line when the boy woke up, and when the brother started having severe seizures, it was Myron who woke up with his and who got critical information from the doctors. His father working at a newspaper in the printing division, which employed Deaf men because they could work unperturbed by the loud racket. This memoir recounts not only Myron's interactions with his parents, but also a fascinating amount of information about the Great Depression, World War II, and family life in Brooklyn in the 1940s, but always thought the lens of Myron's tangential relationship to the Deaf experience.
Strengths: Myron's (and it's hard to think of him as Mr. Uhlberg, since he is young in the book!)interactions with his parents are filled with both love and frustration. While a lot was asked of him, and he could have been overwhelmed, he is from a generation where you did what you had to do and you didn't complain. Young readers need stories like this, since they see so little of this philosophy at work in modern day life! There are lots of funny moments in this, like when Myron is not exactly signing the correct things to his parents and teachers during a conference, but also filled with many moments where the descriptions of the difficulties and injustices faced by the family were brilliantly sad. The depictions of daily life make this perfect for a Decades project that our 7th grade students do, and the book had the same feeling of authenticity that Meltzer's Tough Times had.
Weaknesses: This is a young readers' edition of  Hands of My Father: A Hearing Boy, His Deaf Parents, and the Language of Love (2009), and I wish there had been pictures included, at least on the cover, although the cover is quite nice. 
What I really think: This is a fantastic book on so many levels. Certainly the depiction of Deaf culture at this point in history is fascinating and not covered in anything I have read, but it is the details of daily life that made this so enjoyable for me. I've read a lot of books set in New York City during this time, and this was a perfect distillation of everything I thought I knew about it. It also reminded me a bit of the wonderful movie Avalon. Definitely purchasing and recommending heavily to students.
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What an interesting read! I found this book fascinating. It's a glimpse into the world of a boy who grew up with parents who happened to be deaf. The story takes place in Brooklyn in the 1930s and 40s.

This is not your typical middle-grade read, however. The book is not plot-driven and is episodic in nature. Basically, it's a slice of life. One of my favourite scenes was when he teaches his classmates how to sign. 

I personally really enjoyed this book; not sure how kids will take it, though. I would probably recommend it for older kids who are interested in memoir, and also the subject of deafness and what it means to be deaf. 

**I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
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Uhlberg's tale of growing up hearing in a deaf family is heartwarming. Many times authors focus on what it is like to grow up with a disability, but few ask what it's like to grow up in a disabled family. This book would make a great gift.
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This is the story of a boy with normal hearing growing up with deaf parents and the issues that caused in a time when disability awareness was significantly less than it is now. It's a very personal story and the situation put a lot of responsibility onto a small child that was often stressful and at times heartbreaking.

Acting as an interpreter between his parents and the hearing world from the time he could talk, young Myron was sometimes put in the uncomfortable position between his father's temper flashes and people he didn't want to insult. Worse, when his younger brother developed epilepsy, he was the one who was expected to deal with seizures that his parents couldn't hear happening.

It was a lot to expect of a child and prevented him from having a normal childhood. Often the cruelty of ordinary people was such that they referred to the parents as "dummies" because they couldn't communicate in ways the general population were used to. It's an ongoing problem today with companies that only offer customer service by phone, assuming anyone deaf can afford specialist equipment for phone communication and not catering to the hard of hearing at all.

It was well written and gave insight into the life of a person born into unusual circumstances. I felt it ended at just the right point too, though I wonder how his parents got on after he grew up and moved away. I think this kind of story is useful for people to get insight into what it's like to grow up in a family where disability creates special circumstances, so those who haven't had this experience can develop empathy for the diversity of people who live among us.
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The author tells personal stories about his deaf father in this heartwarming memoir. It tells stories of perseverance and being yourself. I absolutely loved it.
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This memoir is lovely and gives the reader a glimpse at life in Brooklyn in the 1940s. The author’s parents were both deaf and the discrimination that they experienced is addressed. Myron is a hearing child and he has to be the interpreter for his parents. His first language is ASL but he acquires English and laments the fact that he wasn’t as expressive as he could have been in sign. The relationship between Myron and his father is particularly touching. I can’t wait to share this book.
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