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Deafening by Frances Itani
Deafening by Frances Itani is the story of Grania O'Neill, robbed of her hearing by scarlet fever at age 5. While her mother is driven by guilt to hope for a miracle to restore her hearing, it's Grania's grandmother who takes charge, first teaching Grania how to read. Grania is finally sent to a special school where she learns speech and sign language. She thrived in school, found a job after graduation, and fell in love with a hearing man. Shortly after they're married, he's sent off to World War I, and they're forced to communicate soundlessly via letters, while Grania yearns for his safe return. When her brother-in-law returns from the war so shell-shocked he cannot speak, the task falls to Grania to bring him back from his silent world. Frances Itani's Deafening has been praised for its portrayal of a remarkable woman dealing with disability, love, and war. The Christian Science Monitor says, "There are passages here so beautiful that we can't help straining to hear more."