|The Cry of the Gull|
Words have struck me as odd ever since my childhood. The simplest of concepts were even more mysterious. Yesterday, tomorrow, today. My mind worked in the present. What did past and future mean? I took a giant leap forward when, with the help of sign language, I understood that yesterday was behind me and tomorrow was in front of me. That was huge progress. Later, I realized that other words referred to people. Emmanuelle was me. Papa was him. Mama was her. Marie was my sister. I was Emmanuelle, an individual. I had a name, therefore I existed.
Emmanuelle Laborit begins her autobiography The Cry of the Gull with this simple explanation of the difference sign language made in her life. She learned this at the age of seven, and the second important discovery for this young French girl came soon after, when she realized that being deaf could be a positive part of her identity.
As an adolescent, her experiences paralleled those of many hearing youths growing into adults. She went through the frustration and alienation of most teenagers, but hers came from an inability to reconcile the hearing world and her speech-oriented school with her sensibilities as a young deaf woman. After a lengthy period of trouble in class and at home, she determined to finish school and fight for the rights of other deaf French people. She also took up acting, leading to her ultimate triumph as Sarah in the French production of Children of a Lesser God. She was the first deaf French actor to win the Moliere Award in the category of best new talent. Her book The Cry of the Gull is both a revealing and encouraging story for young people everywhere.
Emmanuelle Laborit is an actress and director at International Visual Theater in Paris, France.
ISBN 978-1-56368-086-1, 6 x 9 paperback, 160 pages, photographs
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