Dear Reader

Random musings on reading and books from a librarian in training.

Monday, August 11, 2008


I may have been overly ambitious with the number of books that I brought on vacation, but I did manage to finish two books that I’ve been reading for awhile – Harbor and Deafening.

Deafening was one of the books I picked for the ORBIS TERRARUM Challenge – Canada. The main character in the book, Grania, loses her hearing as a child after she has Scarlet Fever. The first part of the book focuses on her grandmother Mamo’s devotion to teaching her to read lips and speak. She’s eventually sent to a school for deaf children. Grania later falls in love with Jim, who goes off to fight in World War I. The novel alternates between Jim’s experiences as a medic and Grania back at home.

I can’t remember enjoying a novel as much as I did Deafening. There wasn’t a false note in it. I also found it interesting reading about World War I from a Canadian perspective.

My grandfather was born in 1901 and lived in Kemptville, Ontario. I remember him talking about the great flu epidemic, which Itani writes about. My grandfather had the flu – many died of it. When he was recovering, there was an armistice parade and someone moved his bed, so he could watch the parade out the window.

I found it interesting how the language in the book changed as Grania grew older. It was also fascinating how she interacted with the hearing world and saw things that others didn’t because her heightened attention to detail.

In on scene she tells her brother-in-law the way she sees the people in their town:

“Mr. McClelland, the baker, has a stern face and a pucker at the side of his mouth. He holds his wife’s hand in the summer. They sit on the stoop at the side of their house on Main Street, and he doesn’t looks stern at all when he’s with her…”

This a rare book where the characters and story linger. The type of book that I want to buy multiple copies of to urgently press in friends’ hands and say ‘You must read this.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: Frances Itani,

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