The Sound of Silence

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The Sound of Silence – Growing Up Hearing with Deaf Parents

by Myron Uhlberg


Age Group: 12+

“Very hard for a deaf man. Very hard for a black man. Must fight all the time. No rest. Never. Sad.” My father didn’t sign another word. He just stared into the eyes of the subway riders looking at him, until they sheepishly broke off eye contact —every last one of them.”


Myron Uhlberg was born the hearing son of deaf parents at a time when American Sign Language was not well established and deaf people were often dismissed as being unintelligent. In this young reader adaptation of his acclaimed memoir, Hands of My Father, Uhlberg recalls the daily difficulties and hidden joys of growing up as the intermediary between his parents’ silent world and the world of the hearing.


I received this book fro free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I have to say, this was not what I was expecting. Not at all in a bad way. It was very insightful and explained the feelings of a boy torn between two worlds. I can’t imagine what that would have been like, growing up with deaf parents and needing to translate for them. And in such a different world than we live in now.

As a teen, I knew a girl in my church who was deaf. There were a couple ladies who would come and interpret the service for her, and all of us girls learned how to sign our our young women group’s motto, to make her feel closer to us. When her interpreters couldn’t come to girls camp with us, it was harder. We tried furiously to write instructions and lessons down as we heard them, but it wasn’t the same. She was always so appreciative, but I know it must have been frustrating. This book helped me to see just a glimpse into what her world is like. It’s gotten a lot better since the 1940s for sure, but it’s still hard.

While it was an autobiography of that time in his life, I think that this is a great book to suggest to teens. ASL instructors in middle grade and high school could use it to explain what the deaf are going through. History teachers could use it to help illustrate what it might have been like growing up during the depression and World War II, as well as the cruel effects of racism and intolerance. Readers will see a life of sometimes overwhelming challenges, but also see the learning moments and strength to overcome.

*Just as a note, I read this book on my Kindle App so the pages will be different depending on your size of device. I will use the location instead because it seems like that stays pretty much the same no matter what*

Content Concerns: Bullying, exclusion, some injuries, a child with epileptic seizures. Brief description of a child with polio in an iron lung.
Violence: 2/10 Not too much by way of violence, a few injuries. I will however point out the section about a child being in an iron lung here. It’s not violence but can be disturbing.

Location 135 – Slightly frightening scene where a person “kills” an animal that was hiding in their closet. The animal is later revealed not to be real, but a fur wrap.

Location 342-353 – A child has an epileptic seizure for the first time. Fairly descriptive and could be seen as frightening or disturbing.

Location 780-810 – Physical bullying, mild peril

Location 1132-1167 – Description of a child with polio needing to reside in an iron lung

Location 1214-1225 – A person get’s injured and bleeds.

Location 1300 – A person gets “injured” (attacked really) during a sport.
Language: 1/10 No swear words, but there are a lot of derogatory comments towards people who are deaf. Words like “dummies” “stupid” and “slow” are used to describe them.
Sexual Content: 0/10 None

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