If a Tree Falls: A Family's Quest to Hear and Be Heard
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If a Tree Falls: A Family's Quest to Hear and Be Heard

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  85 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Jennifer Rosner’s revelatory memoir explores family, silence, and what it means to be heard. When her daughters are born deaf, Rosner is stunned. Then she discovers a hidden history of deafness in her family, going back generations to the Jewish enclaves of Eastern Europe. Traveling back in time, she imagines her silent relatives, who showed surprising creativity in dealin...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 1st 2010 by The Feminist Press at CUNY (first published 2010)
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Really 2.5, but the writing quality itself is good - "plot" ... not so much.

When the author sticks to her direct experiences of being the mother of two hearing-impaired children, the story held my interest well; I found the younger daughter's cochlear implant section downright fascinating. Unfortunately, much of the book consists of Rosner's angst, along with a historical fiction story-within-a-story about her deaf ancestors' experiences in Eastern Europe and New York City (several pages between...more
The author's struggle to decide how to handle her daughters' hearing problems was very interesting and I enjoyed hearing both how they made the decision and the outcome. The thing I really didn't like about the book was the amount of time the author spent complaining about feeling disconnected from her mother--a woman with four kids! It sounds like she would have preferred being an only child with a mother who had nothing better to do than give her attention all day long, and holding on to that...more
This book is about a family that suffers the heartbreak of bearing a deaf child without realizing the genetic potential for it lying quietly in their genetic structure. Although Jennifer was raised by a hearing impaired mother, the fact that it was a genetic defect, occurring throughout her family tree, never occurred to her. When it was discovered that she and her husband both carried the recessive gene, it was proof positive that their newborn daughter, Sophia had a severe hearing loss.
How the...more
Talia Carner
Heightened emotions and confusion would have marked the anguish parents must suffer when discovering that one, then--three years later--another daughter are deaf. Yet, Jennifer Rosner uses restrained prose throughout without resorting to the melodrama that has marked her life.
A voice for those who cannot speak....

While both Rosner and her husband carried recessive genes that sentenced her daughters to deafness, there had been nothing in her husband's family history to warn them. In Ms. Rosner's...more
I expected If a Tree Falls to read as an outstretched, sympathetic hand from the author to parents of deaf children; I began it more for my work than pleasure. Instead, it was a wonderful piece of my favorite genre, creative nonfiction. (Although, Rosner concedes in her Acknowledgements that there is much fiction entwined even within the story line about her present-day family.)

If a Tree Falls has two plots; every few chapters relates a story Rosner imagines for the deaf ancestors she researches...more
Justine Pomponi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Unfortunately, I missed the author speak at the last AG Bell convention (www.agbell.org), but I bought a copy of her book and got it autographed - not only by her, but by her two daughters. Sophia even put a heart next to her name - too cute!

Jennifer's story is all too familiar to families like mine, who had to deal with children who were born deaf (like me and my sister). But she has a different tack. For some reason, Jennifer was surprised, despite having an ancestral history of deafness. This...more
Oct 14, 2013 Lisa rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Book club
As the parent of a child with a disability, I thought this memoir was a good representation of what goes through a parent's mind in those early months: To what extent should I help my child live a typical life? What if I choose something for my child that he or she would not have wanted? Should I just accept it and not try to "fix" my child? Yet, while the vividly written story recounts the struggles of the very early years of her children's lives, I do wish there was a deeper exploration of the...more
This is more than a memoir! I choose it because a friend of mine with a child who is deaf due to Connexin 26 recommended it to me as I have two children with Connexin 26. This is the reason the author's children are deaf. But, I found it is much, much more than that! I would recommend it to everyone and it would be a fabulous book club selection.

It is a book philosophically exploring what it means to be heard or unheard. It is also part detective story into her Eastern European Jewish ancestry....more
Rosner's memoir of the birth of her deaf daughters and the family's subsequent challenges is illuminating and memorable - even imaginative. Exploring her ancestry in search of an explanation for her daughters' lack of hearing leads Rosner to create a vivid depiction of life for her hearing impaired immigrant ancestors.

Well written, If a Tree Falls.. touches upon the schism between those who are Deaf and live wholly within Deaf culture and those who choose medical means to achieve hearing. Rosner...more
Carol E.
A family discovers that their new baby is deaf. The book chronicles their struggles. The author looks into her family tree and discovers several deaf ancestors, then writes a fictional account of her deaf ancestors' lives, embedded into this book as her "journal entries." As someone who works in the field of deafness, I was a little disappointed with some of their decisions, though I know it can be very confusing for families who suddenly find themselves faced with this unknown. I also wonder ab...more
A brave and tender story of being a mother, a daughter and a wife. Luminous, touching and a useful perspective on hearing technology as a cultural dilemma.
I wasn't sure of what to expect when I opened this book. It was about a mother describing her experience with two deaf daughters and how she decided to raise them. In a way, it was sad because she seemed preoccupied with what they were missing out on due to sounds.

It however was an interesting read because I'm familiar with different locations mentioned in the book. And the issues discussed are personal to me, as a Deaf person. I would recommend this to anybody who wants to further understand w...more
I loved this thoughtful memoir, which weaves Rosner's experiences as the daughter of a mother with hearing loss and the mother of two deaf daughters together with her imagined account her deaf great aunts in Europe and then New York in the late 19th century. Thanks for recommending it, Sam!
As a mother of a hearing impaired child, I thought this was a very good book that described the emotional process that we as parents go through very well. It was one of the more helpful books I have read on the subject. I have recommended it to many.
Lindsey Lang
Great insight into the emotions and struggles a parent encounters when discovering their child is deaf. As a future SLP, I found this book eye-opening and important in trying to empathize with the feelings of these families.
Rebecca  Einstein Schorr
I first learned of Jennifer Rosner after my writing teacher pointed me to an essay Rosner had written earlier this year. This is a stunningly-crafted book. I read it in about a day -- could not pull myself away.
This book is alternatively a nonfiction account about dealing with daughters' deafness, and a fiction story about the what if life of her great grandmother.
Friends know the author and this takes place in our area -- I am compelled to read it!
Alison Loeb
A great story about a family's struggles on raising a child with hearing loss.
Very moving. Enjoyed it very much.
Local author.
Karsten marked it as to-read
Aug 28, 2014
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