Jun 30, 2015

Turn On the Light So I Can Hear by Teri Kanefield - Review

A young artist badly in need of money bluffs her way through an interview into a job she is not prepared for.

To succeed, she must make room in her life for two people: Curtis, a deaf architect who has sworn he will never date a hearing woman, and thirteen-year-old Alex, profoundly deaf, rebellious, bold, and frightened. As each takes new risks in friendship and love, the hearing and deaf worlds come together.

With sign language--nimble and evocative--at its center, Turn On the Light So I Can Hear is about reaching across distances, the trans formative powers of art, and finding a place to belong.

About the Author
Teri writes novels, short stories, essays, stories for children, nonfiction for both children and adults, and lots of appellate briefs.

Her stories and essays have appeared in publications as diverse as Education Week, Scope Magazine, The Iowa Review, Cricket Magazine, and The American Literary Review.

Teri's books have received the following honors and distinctions:

The Girl From The Tar Paper School:
--Jane Addams Peace Association Children's Book Award
--California Reading Association Eureka Silver Honor Book Award
--Included on the 2015 list of Notable Social Studies Trade Books for young readers compiled by the National Council for Social Studies
--Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children (National Association of Teachers of English), Recommended Book
--Included in the New York Public Library's list of 100 children's books to read in 2014.
--A Junior Library Guild selection

Praise for The Girl From The Tar Paper School:
"Beautifully and clearly written." School Library Journal, starred review
"Worthy of the highest recommendation." Midwest Book Review

Rivka's Way
--Sidney Taylor Book Awards, Notable book of 2001
-- Lilith Magazine's 5th Annual Selection of Books for Young Readers
--Included in Great Books for Girls, by Kathleen Odean
--Included in Best Jewish Books for Children and Teens, by Linda R. Silver

Praise for Rivka's Way :
"A rewarding read for the romantically inclined." School Library Journal
"A simple but daring adventure." Voice of Youth Advocates

Guilty? Crime, Punishment, and the Changing Face of Justice
--Junior Library Guild selection
Praise for Teri Kanefield's most recent book, The Girl From The Tar Paper School:
"An extraordinary and inspiring story." Salt Lake City Tribune
"Worthy of the highest recommendation." Midwest Book Review
"Beautifully and clearly written . . . " School Library Journal, starred review.
"Highly recommended." Library Media Connection
Education
  • J.D., University of California, Berkeley School of Law
  • M.A., University of California, Davis, Graduate School, English with an Emphasis in Fiction Writing
  • B.A., University of PennsylvaniaTeri's law practice is limited to representing indigents on appeal from adverse rulings.
She lives in California near the beach..
My Review
I'l start from the cover - It is so beautiful. that it took my breath away.
Now, the title - only after I started to read the book the real meaning of it sank into me and I think it's fits. so fit that it's like glove to the plot. The title is so right and so ingenious that it made me wonder, why it never occurred to me before how deaf person would manage without a light (and please, don't bring forward Helen Keller, which I admire too).

Anyway, I got this book by mail, two months ago from the author, and I didn't had the chance to read from too many reasons, that I almost forgot that I had it at all. But guess what, after a YA fantasy book after YA fantasy book, so many books which I started and after few pages or few chapters max.... I decided that I need a break something else for a change... so I looked at the piles of books which were waiting on me to read them, accumulating dust and started to go over them.... when I reached to "Turn On the Light So I Can Hear", I stopped enchanted by the cover turn it over to read the summery.... I didn't understand much from it.... only it is not a YA fantasy book.... and I wasn't disappointed more than this I really fell in love with it.

"Turn On the Light So I Can Hear" is a refreshing wind, it is written in a very precise language, it is like few detail drawing that can tell you the whole story. You can, practically, see the colors and shapes of the feelings. And this analogy didn't come out of the blue - because the main character Bretna - is an artist, who use her art to sort things. For example, she is using Colors to describe the character of the people around her, even though her main art is sculpturing. For her sculptures, she is using a very difficult material, broken glass... and when people asking her a bout this choice - her answer is always the same - the most beautiful art creations come from broken things.

As the story unfold, we will discover more and more layers to the young artist which just came out of school of art and in her desperation to survive, "bluffing" her way into a job (I put bluffing in quotation marks in purpose because I think it is not a total lie and the reader will understand this claim better when he will be too deep in the book). The job is - an interpreter and tutor for a 13 year old deaf boy, Alex, whose parents chose for him to go to a regular school, for 18 dollars per hour. In her interview she is also telling that at the age of 5 yo she suffered from hearing lose, which treated but since then in one ear she has an hearing disability. This small information will be important key to understand her better.

Bretna accept the job offer, the problem is she doesn't know signing language, but she has all summer to prepare herself and she takes class in the the deaf community, there she met Curtis is a deaf man who teaches ASL (American Sign Language)and payed him for extra tutoring lessons. Bot with the handsome charismatic Curtis it was just a matter of time before a relationship was built(Even tough, he claim that he don't date with hearing women).

I thought it funny that, when she meet Alex she realized Alex’s signing ability was sloppier than hers. Alex just wants to fit in like any other boy at his age.

As the story keep unfolding we learn about her dysfunctional family, ans her journey to live her life Independent from there clutches. I must admit in this point, that Bretna throw me into my personal story and at times I found myself crying, but still I couldn't stop reading till the end of the book. Not many, succeed to do this, and even my personal story is not the same I could find the similarities and it made me wonder, what would happen to me if I chose the art way to fulfill.

This Book is also about communication/or miscommunication - between the hearing and the deaf, among family members, between teachers (tutors,interpreters) and students, between roommates, between couples. The sign for "think-hearing." for instance, means "A deaf person who tries to be like a hearing person...." And Teri Kanefield bring out that the differences between the deaf community and the hearing community aren't just about language.

And it also touches forms of mental illnesses without naming any specific ones. Bretna raised by an emotionally unavailable father and a mentally unstable mother. Her mother blamed Bretna for every bad thing that happened and constantly told her and every one else that she is a violent, bad person and Bretna believed her. At 18, Bretna left home and moved across the country. meeting different people family and other that know her family , in purpose to understand why her family is so dysfunctional and whether she was crazy too or not.

Bretna, always felt as an outsider, with her family and now in her relationship with Curtis, which loved very much, and his friend from the deaf community. But this background helped her in her relationship with Alex, which was on his an outsider in an hearing society (school and family, the same. She could understand him better then his own mother who has an academic title in learning disabilities, better then his consultant who herself had a deaf son and better them Curtis who had issues with hearing people. So she was the only one which Alex trusted, and for a long time he was the only one who able to do this.

It took time to bring other to learn how to appreciate this quite, talented, sensitive person that she was.
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