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Deafening

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  2,389 ratings  ·  233 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Laura
I loved this book. Grania and Jim have taken their place in my heart as one of my favorite literary couples. Although this book addresses many larger issues - disability, illness, war - and does it well, at its heart it is Jim and Grania's love story, the story of a love that sustains and survives. This book is beautifully written and truly touched my heart. I cannot wait to read the sequel, Tell.
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
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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
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Jay
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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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
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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.
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
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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
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
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
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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
Mary Lou
A gem of a book. Despite the fact that the two main characters are lovers whose lives are interrupted by World War I, this book is so much more than a war story or a love story, though it is also very profoundly both of those things. We meet Grania when she is five and just recovering from a bout of scarlet fever which has made her lose her hearing. Itani illuminates Grania’s inner life and relates Grania’s keen observations of the world as she perceives it, observations gained without being abl ...more
Jo-anne
After reading this book I have such a profound admiration for the skill and dedication to communication that the deaf commit to when learning speech, sign language and lip reading. I found myself repeating the words buy, my and pie, baffled each and every time how anyone could understand the differences from watching the mouth form these words. Imagine a world with a universal language using sign. One wonders if the atrocities of war would be lessened by the ability of everyone on earth to commu ...more
Jennifer
A very well-written, fascinating look into the life of a deaf girl/woman before and during WWI. After the first part of the book (which is mostly about her childhood/school experience), it goes back and forth between what her hearing husband is going through as a stretcher-bearer in No Man's Land, and what she experiences back in the US. Slow-moving in parts, but very detailed and absorbing.
Shannon Larsen
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
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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
Nicole
This book was set in the WWI time frame, and told the story of a deaf girl who married a hearing man that went to fight in the war. It was strangely written, as it was more or less told in little vignettes and there didn't seem to be a lot of consistency through out the story.
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.
Carole
I really enjoyed this book. Itani tells the story of Grania, a child who becomes deaf at the age of five after a bout of scarlet fever, with a great deal of authenticity and emotional truth. I found the chapters about her education at the Ontario School for the Deaf in Belleville to be particularly interesting.

The second part of the book involving Grania's relationship with Jim during World War I is equally fascinating. I am particularly interested in stories of this war and Canada's participati
...more
Lori Bamber
This book is probably wonderful - certainly, many Goodreads reviewers seem to love it.

But I just couldn't connect. After 64 pages densely written pages, I was still waiting for something to happen that would draw me in, and so I finally gave myself permission to give up.

I think the primary problem is that I have read way too many novels set in the world wars, and needed something extraordinary to convince me to read one more. That's a heavy burden to place on a book, and likely terribly unfair
...more
Suzanne Cooper
I chanced upon this amazing book...what a great story! Well-told, with grace & eloquence, emotion & power! Grania is left deaf @ the age of 5 by scarlet fever & her family helps her to learn to speak & sign, finishing her education @ a school for the deaf in Canada. So part of the story is about her, but then her husband of only 2 weeks leaves to go to "the front" in WW1 & fights hunger, exhaustion & the horrors of the battles & the wounded that he must carry on stret ...more
Jane
This book is about a girl who became deaf after getting sick as a child. I thought the parts that talked about what life was like for her were really interesting, but the rest was a snooze fest. It kept switching between her story and what was going on with her husband who was at war. I don't know if it was because I read the e-book, but there were parts with the contents of a letter, but it was hard to tell that we were switching from the narrative to the letter. Maybe it was more clear in the ...more
Jennifer D
This novel is so beautiful ~ the words, the sentences, the story, the flow - Frances Itani is amazing! I loved this book.
Wendy
Reading this book is like being inside the head of the main character. I feel like she somehow shows - if it is possible - what being deaf could be like. If you want a fast paced, action story, this is not that. It moves forward through time - and through the first world war - slowly, showing how painstakingly slow it would have been for those who had loved ones away at war. Reading it I just want the war to end so the two lovers can be together. I still don't know if they will be, although I wa ...more
Melanie
This is a moving story of war, deafness, illness and loss; the war being WW1.

Grania was five years old when she lost her hearing to scarlet fever. Her mother was determined to make Grania hear again, whether by medicine or miracle, but Mamo, Grania's beloved grandmother, was a solid rock in Grania's young life, and helped Grania to learn/maintain her speech and hone some good lip-reading skills. Grania and her sister Tress were very close and had their own special sign-language to communicate w
...more
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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 Tell Leaning, Leaning Over Water Missing

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“hands, returned a ‘G’ close to his own heart.” 0 likes
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