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Deafening

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  2,062 ratings  ·  203 reviews
In Deafening, Canadian writer Frances Itani's American debut novel, she tells two parallel stories: a man's story of war and a woman's story of waiting for him and of what it is to be deaf. Grania O'Neill is left with no hearing after having scarlet fever when she is five. She is taught at home until she is nine and then sent to the Ontario Institution for the Deaf and Dum...more
Hardcover
Published August 26th 2003 by HarperFlamingo Canada (first published January 1st 2003)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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William Hayes
Frances Itani said that she didn't intend to write a war novel, but that she realized she couldn't write a novel of young people living through the period without writing of the war and its effect on her characters.

Not a war buff, myself, I was nevertheless interested to learn what Itani feels about the war. Not one other GoodReads reviewer, almost all of whom are women, seems at all interested in this.

There are passages in which her characters express clearly what I believe she herself feels, n...more
Donna
A very unusual World War I story, told through the eyes of a young deaf woman named Grania. Poignant, well-told, powerful. Very enjoyable.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: “If only he did not have to look at the hands. In death they told more than the face; he knew that now. It was the hands that revealed the final argument: clenched in anger, relaxed in acquiescence, seized in a posture of surprise or forgiveness, or taken unawares. Clawing at a chest, or raised unnaturally in a pleading attitude. How can this...more
Jay
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah
Should really be 3.5 stars, but I rounded down. I adore the premise of this book: a deaf girl growing up in Canada in the early 1900s who falls in love with a hearing man who goes away to war. I love war stories, especially involving women, I love love stories, and Grania’s deafness adds a really fascinating dimension to the old war romance story. A+ for the general plot idea.

The problem is in the execution. The first third of the book is quite interesting and lovely – it’s all about Grania grow...more
Rosana
Jan 29, 2008 Rosana rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rosana by: bookclub pick from Georgina
Shelves: 2008, book-club
This is a tender and deeply moving book. Frances Itani tells the story of a deaf woman (loosely inspired on her own deaf grandmother), waiting for her young husband’s return from WWI with superb prose. The complexity of what is or isn’t communicate in every relationship, the loneliness of disconnect, and ultimately the healing power of love, family and friendship is weaved through the plot with mastery.

I am looking forward to Itani’s next book.
Ron Charles
There's not a single false gesture in Frances Itani's "Deafening." Despite its subjects - war, romance, disability - it's a story of careful, measured emotion, bleached of all sentimentality. The publisher has positioned the novel as a debut in America, but Canadians have been reading Itani for decades, and every page of this story betrays the hands of a mature writer who knows exactly what she's doing.

The heroine, Grania O'Neill, was robbed of her hearing at the age of five by scarlet fever in...more
Tracey-Lee
I absolutely loved this book. I didn't want it to end. Definitely one of my all time favorites and one I will read again, which I rarely ever do.

Frances has done such a beautiful job of creating a family you can't help but fall in love with. Rarely have I read a book where I loved so many of the characters so much that I wanted to know their own stories too, individually!

I found the perspective of a deaf woman and other deaf characters, fascinating. So much so I actually stopped part of the way...more
Louise
Well written novel about the struggle of a young girl, Grania, living in Deseronto, Ontario in 1902 who is rendered deaf after a bout of scarlet fever. After being sent to Belleville, Ontario to attend the school for the Deaf, she falls in love with a hearing man named Jim. Grania, due to her deafness pronounces her husband's name Chim. Jim is sent into World War 1 to be a stretcher bearer and through letters home to Grania, tries to maintain their language of love, silence and 'fingers on lips....more
Carolyn Gerk
I am not certain that this wasn't a good book, but at the very least, I, personally, was not in the right state of mind to read it. I felt like it had so much potential: an original story, an exciting setting, some very clever and poignant symbolism and resounding themes.
Sadly, I was just never really hooked. I never felt engaged in this novel. I am not sure if that is due in part to an inability to connect to the characters. I had some interest in Jim and occasionally in our heroine, though I o...more
Jane
Nov 25, 2008 Jane rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of lush dialogue and strong character relationships
This book was amazing. The writing style took a bit of time to relate to but it was a story told from the perspective of a deaf woman. It was a profoundly moving story that takes the reader through Grania's illness that results in deafness at age 5 through her growing into a woman, falling in love and waiting for her husband's return from WWI. Through the story you begin to feel that Grania is the strong one, the one most aware of her world and the hearing world. Her connection to both worlds is...more
Erin
Unfortunately Frances Itani didn’t have good editorial advice. If she’d had good editorial advice she might have written two good novels instead of this one weak novel. The problem for Itani is that she wanted to tell two stories: one of the experience of a young girl growing up deaf at the turn of the century and one of WW1 trenches (because what Canadian literature needs is *another* WW1 Western Front narrative…). How are these stories connected you ask? Very, very tenuously and not at all in...more
Polly
Feb 21, 2009 Polly rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who appreciate subtlety--this is not an edgy best-seller type
Recommended to Polly by: Allison
Shelves: polly
I have read many more books about WWII than WWI, so this book was interesting to me historically. The depictions of the waste and suffering of war are not new themes, but they are well handled here. I very much liked the quotes from a school newspaper that precede many chapters, and show the war through children's comments. As with WWII, people felt patriotic in supporting the war (and were even cruel to those who did not enlist), and this is such a contrast to the views on war of my generation....more
Lindsey
This was an interesting read - at times poignant and heartbreaking, but informative as well. I don't often read novels about WWI but have read Itani's "Remembering The Bones" and found it captured my attention so thought I'd give it a try. So glad I did!

Others noted that the two stories were loosely connected, but I found it provided interesting viewpoints from the perspective of the character and tied together just right. This story didn't romanticize or glamourize the horrors of war. It also p...more
Leah Anderson
I liked it, but more for the aspect of the deaf. The author had definitely done her research about the deaf. For instance she included aspects such as the 'communicator' having the light falling onto their face, and the deaf person having the light behind them, to maximise clear communication. She included how much the deaf miss when a group of hearing are contributing to a conversation faster than the deaf person can keep up with who is speaking next. I also found the idiom's we take for grante...more
Danna
Feb 21, 2008 Danna rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Danna by: Dawn's Book Club
I quickly fell to skimming the pages after the first couple of chapters; in the end, I didn't feel as though I missed anything by doing so. I can't say I disliked Itani's writing style, it felt very tranquil like walking through a gallery of Seurat paintings, but everything in the story felt the same at the end as it did in the beginning; not enough detail to sustain my attention for an entire novel. I kept thinking, "I'd enjoy her writing much more in short-story form; in a full length novel it...more
Shannon
I read this book for one of my first year history Classes, an I must say I was pleasently surprised. I liked the formulation of the characters, and how it seemed like a borderline non-fiction book. It was fairly slow paced, in my opinion, but it was captivating enough to keep you going to the end.

Overall, I thought the main character was interesting, and I liked the romance involved, as well as the flashing between perspectives, but I found myself skimming through the main characters perspectiv...more
Stephanie
I nearly didn't choose this book due to its generic women's lit cover art, but quotes from the Independent, Times and Guardian convinced me. Set in early 1900s Canada, Deafening tells the story of a deaf girl, Grania, from her early childhood through adolescence to adulthood. I was fascinated by the wealth of detail about everyday life for deaf people during this era. Grania's eventual romance with a hearing man, Jim, is trumpeted in the back cover synopsis but forms little of the book as the tw...more
Heiderworld
Jul 29, 2014 Heiderworld marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
At the age of five, Grania-the daughter of hardworking Irish hoteliers in smalltown Ontario-emerges from a bout of scarlet fever profoundly deaf and is suddenly sealed off from the world that was just beginning to open for her. Her guilt-plagued mother cannot accept her daughter's deafness. Grania's saving grace is her grandmother Mamo, who tries to teach Grania to read and speak again. Grania's older sister, Tress, is a beloved ally as well-obliging when Grania begs her to shout words into her...more
Bethany
I really enjoyed this book. It gave me an entirely new perspectives on language and deafness. I found myself mulling over topics in this book frequently. One of the better books I have read in a while.
Kris
4 STARS

"Born on the shores of Lake Ontario, Grania O'Neill suffers a childhood illness that destroys her hearing. Grania's life without sound is also a life bounded by a powerful family love that tries to protect her from suffering. But when it becomes clear that Grania can no longer thrive among the hearing, her family sends her to the Ontario School for the Deaf. There, protected from the often unforgiving world outside, she learns sign language and speech. And there she meets Jim Lloyd, a hea...more
Linda Miller
May 21, 2011 Linda Miller rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone in need of a good old fashioned heartwarming book.
This is one of the most profoundly moving books I have ever read. It is about a family living in Canada with several children. The story centers around the one daughter who was born deaf, the sister who helped and protected her, the mother who gave up on her and the grandmother who believed like her sister that she should not be given up on. The two sisters were able to communicate from an early age by making up their own sign language. The family owned a large hotel and the older sister was in...more
Donna
I rarely read books that deal with war and its impact on people. I was, however, fully engaged in this story before I realized where it was heading. Thankfully I didn't know this when I picked up the book or I would have missed out on a most amazing reading experience. The writing was flawless, the characters were strong and genuinely likable, and the ending left a smile on my face - even though the impacts of war were accurately portrayed.

Grania and "Chim" were compelling characters - loving a...more
Jennifer D
From Amazon: "In Deafening, Canadian writer Frances Itani tells two parallel stories: a man's story of war and a woman's story of waiting for him and of what it is to be deaf. Grania O'Neill is left with no hearing after having scarlet fever when she is five. She is taught at home until she is nine and then sent to the Ontario Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, where lifelong friendships are forged, her career as a nurse is chosen, and she meets Jim Lloyd, a hearing man, with whom she falls in l...more
Tara Chevrestt
The first part of this novel was a superb 99 pages. My enjoyment of these 99 pages is what makes this a three star book despite the fact I grew too bored to finish somewhere in the middle of part three. Here is why:

Part one is about a child named Grania growing up in Canada in the late 1800's. A bout with scarlet fever at the age of 5 has rendered her permanently deaf. Thankfully, Grania has an understanding family, especially her grandmother, and with their patience, she learns to lip read. I...more
Elizabeth
Sep 12, 2013 Elizabeth rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elizabeth by: my sister
I loved the opening of this book, depicting a grandmother's great love and understanding of her young granddaughter's deafness.

1902
"Your name," Mamo says. "This is the important word. If you can say your name, you can tell the world who you are."
"Graw..."
"Sounds like claw. Like the claw on the cat that prowls at the back. The one your father won't allow in the hotel - or in the house either, for that matter."
Grania has been watching closely but she's not certain hwhat her grandmother has j
...more
Julie
I enjoyed the book a lot, and while it did move towards some themes, I wasn't expecting, I did find it to be a good read in the end, and will more than likely seek out the author other books.

The book did a fantastic job on its focus on World War I. Showing the horrors and thoughts of those on the front line, as well as the reactions and turmoil those who were left behind faced. I was hoping the book would have stayed with focusing on Grania and her struggles of her deafness. As I did enjoy the...more
Jane Guyton
I became totslly absorbed in this beautifully written and very sad book whose protagonist becomes deaf at the age of 5 after a bout of scarlet fever. Well - it's not so much a sad book as a book about sadness. It starts rather slowly (that's why I gave it four rather than five stars) but picks up pace once the girl at the center of the story - Grania - goes to a school for the deaf. The insights into the world of the deaf, of sound, language and the differences between the deaf world and the spe...more
Stacy
I expected to be enlightened about the world of the deaf. I did not expect to be enlightened about WWI or about the medical aspects of the war or about the stretcher bearers' experience.
I was fascinated to learn about the school and its influence on the community and on deaf education since I pass this building several times a year. I am also familiar with the rest of the geography in the book which is comforting, although Grania's world is ever so much smaller than it would be if she lived in D...more
Lorraine
Jun 08, 2009 Lorraine rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Canadian and ASL book clubs
Recommended to Lorraine by: Anna VR
Shelves: canadian
Three stars is a little stingy; 3.5 might be more accurate. I really like reading about a person who grows up deaf, about how she adapts to a different form of communication. Learning a bit of ASL myself, I appreciated the inclusion of some signs within the text. And having lived in Belleville for four years, it was neat and interesting to read about the region in the historical context of World War I.

However, because I was mostly interested in the deaf culture aspect of the book, I found myself...more
Lundy
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...more
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180102
Frances Susan Itani is a Canadian fiction writer, poet and essayist.

Itani was born in Belleville, Ontario and grew up in Quebec. She studied nursing in Montreal and North Carolina, a profession which she taught and practised for eight years. However, after enrolling in a writing class taught by W. O. Mitchell, she decided to change careers.

Itani has published ten books, ranging from fiction and po...more
More about Frances Itani...
Remembering the Bones Requiem Leaning, Leaning Over Water Missing Poached Egg On Toast:  Short Stories

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