Thursday, January 26, 2006

DEAFENING by Frances Itani

Grania, the protagonist of Itani's first novel--a contender for Canada Reads 2006--lost all hearing after a childhood bout of scarlet fever in the early 1900s. She and her family live in a village close to Belleville, Ontario where they run a hotel. When she can no longer be educated sufficiently by her Irish grandmother, Grania is sent to a boarding school for the profoundly deaf. There, the world of communication opens up to her as she learns how to sign as well as to read lips.

As a young adult, Grania meets and falls in love with a young hearing man. They are married two weeks before he leaves her to serve in the ambulance corps during WWI. His journey at the European front is gruelling. Itani's description of what it was like for those young men who fought for our freedom is absolutely harrowing.

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