“The morning would come and I’d know that Adelaide, her face a mirror image of mine with her straight black hair and dark eyes, belonged to me, and that we belonged to this family who walked down Washtenaw Avenue, listening to people say about us and our parents, ‘Here come the Silents.’”
—from The Silents
Author Charlotte Abrams presents this proud family sketch early on in her memoir of life in Chicago with her sister and her deaf parents. Hers is a loving portrayal of how a close Jewish family survived the Depression and the home front hardships of World War II with the added complications of communication for her mother and father. Rich episodes detail history from a particularly acute point of view that entertain as they subtly inform. Her father, a former prizefighter, considered the gift of a radio an intrusion until he found that he could have his hearing daughters pantomime the Joe Louis - Billy Conn fight as it occurred.
The Silents departs from other narratives about deaf parents and hearing children when the family discovers that Abrams’ mother is becoming blind. With resiliency, the family turned the secret, terrifying sorrow their mother felt at losing her only contact with the world into a quest for the best way to bring it back. Should she learn Braille? Should she use a cane? All of the old communication and day-to-day living routines had to be relearned. And through it all, the family and their neighbors, hearing and deaf, worked together to ensure that Abrams’ parents remained the close, vital members of the community that they had always been.
Charlotte Abrams is a writer living in Venice, CA.
ISBN 978-1-56368-055-7, 6 x 9 hardcover, 272 pages, photographs
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