At first I was worried that I was going to be disappointed in this book. It started out slowly, and I felt like there was something missing. I didn't feel much emotionally for the narrator or her family. And then suddenly, the book shifted and I realized the slow, unemotional beginning was on purpose.
A Loss for Words deals with deafness in a family of 5. The parents are both deaf, following health issues in early childhood, and have 3 hearing daughters. From the outside, everything looks pretty perfect. The daughters are loving and close with their parents, their parents are compassionate and involved. But as their eldest daughter, Lou Ann, heads off to college, she is forced to reconcile her feelings of guilt.
Her whole life she experienced a major role reversal, as the eldest hearing daughter, she became her parents ears and their voice. She was constantly put in the middle of situations where she felt the need to protect her parents from the truth, people who would make rude comments and unfairly judge her parents as being deaf "and dumb." She felt like others didn't get to know her parents for who they really are, instead everything about them was colored by their lack of hearing. Even within their own families they were misunderstood.
In adulthood Lou Ann allowed that guilt to take the reigns, and she soon found herself in over her head. She becomes an advocate and interpreter for the deaf community but discovers that it's bringing up issues from childhood she never dealt with. Lou Ann has to take a step back, and really come to terms with her complicated feelings surrounding her childhood, her parents and deafness in general.
A Loss for Words is an eye opening book about the deaf community. It's a moving, tear jerking and inspirational book that I highly recommend.