A very moving and emotional novel but it creeps up on you and builds as it goes. I ended up caring about the characters but yet a huge amount of time wasn't spent telling you everything about them. You learned about the character of the characters by what they lived through and how they responded. Isn't that how you learn about people in your life? No one writes a novel and gives it to you to tell you how people's minds work. You see what a person is like by their actions. I really enjoyed this book.
Frances Itani, a Canadian writer, uses sparse visual scenes replaced with slowly- and well-developed relationships within a community of characters. You will often feel as if you lived in one of the houses just off Main Street, in Deseronto, Canada.
While reading the story, you easily fall into Grania's world of silence and feel her frustration, loneliness, and confusion as she struggles to learn adequate skills to communicate in a world dominated by spoken language.
The parallel story begins with Grania living and working at the hotel her parents own while Jim, her newlywed husband, is serving as a stretcher bearer during the long months at war. Their love for each other is conveyed through their thoughts and letters -- separated by time, space, and sound. The graphic, horrific visualization about the brutalities of WWI is difficult, described as it likely was -- a horrendous, relentless war almost a century ago.
Books like Cold Mountain and My Sister's Keeper brought tears by the turn of the last page. Deafening is a powerful, sensitive story of the same caliber. This is a book I'd recommend for book club discussion.
Itani's experience and thorough research makes the events and places in this story very believable. The town where Grania was sent to school is Itani's home town. Her grandmother was deaf and raised 11 children. Itani was named to the Order of Canada (Feb. 2007). Deafening won the Commonwealth Book Award in 2003.
This book takes the listener through the culture, the times, the triumphs and the tragedies, in Canada, before and during world war I. Grania became deaf in her childhood. She has a large and loving family. She eventually goes to a school for the deaf. The story takes you through the world seen through Grania's eyes. After she grows up, she falls in love with and marries Jim, a hearing man, and the love of her life. Two weeks after they are married he is called away to war. I liked this book. I found it very moving, and alive and filled with history. I would have liked the book better if Grania's grandmother had not sacrificed her own life to save her grand daughter by nursing Grania back to health. I think this book is worth taking the time to give it a listen. Just have a box of kleen-ex on hand, just in case.