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The Sound of Us

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  285 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
From the acclaimed author of A Good Distance and Some Things That Stay, a thoughtful and compelling new novel.

Alice Marlowe accepts her life the way it is. She is single, in her late forties, lives with a cat named Sampson, and has imaginary conversations with her dead twin brother. As a sign-language interpreter for the deaf, she is used to standing between people, faci
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published June 7th 2005 by Berkley Hardcover (first published January 1st 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
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Dawn Livingston
Dec 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Well written, well rounded and realistic characters but not my type of book. Too real and kind of depressing.
Nov 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Toni, Lynne, Laura
Shelves: general-fiction
Willis's remarkable portrayal of a woman's unexpected foray into the world of foster parenting. Like the central character my attitude towards the birth mother shifted from one of disdain to sympathy. I felt drawn in to her web of lies, unsure what to believe, questioning my own beliefs as to the best course of action for the child in question. Although the overall story is executed never falling into the trap of bordering on sappy or overly dramatic, I did find the use of the central character' ...more
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. I only gave it 4 stars because it had a little too much language for my taste. Great story and great message. I really felt like I was right there in the story with the way that she wrote it. Interesting moral and ethical topics were brought up that really made me question how I would react in the same situations. Excellent read.
Allison Herman
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
A woman gets a wrong number phone call from a 6 year old at the wee hours of the morning. Feeling compelled to make sure the child is okay, the woman figures out where she is and gets involved in her life way more than she ever expected.

I just found this too hard to relate to. The child is supposed to be 6, but the way she acts is more like a 3 year old. I couldn't get into this.
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Repressed middle aged woman becomes a foster parent. Good story. Some discussion potential.
Jennifer Wardrip
Alice Marlowe is realizing, at the age of 48, that there's more to life than having a comfortable home, a fulfilling career, and parents and friends that love her. When she's awakened in the middle of the night by a wrong number, Alice 's world is tilted on its axis--and the tilting may very well save her sanity.

A little girl, barely six years old, has called Alice by mistake, missing a phone number by a couple of digits. Larissa, the girl on the other end of the line, is looking for her Auntie
Marlee Pinsker
Jan 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I started reading this book and found myself just falling into it, fascinated by the gritty, emotional world the author created. I asked myself just what would I have done at different points along the way. I felt that the protagonist was completely believable even though I would not have run out in the middle of the night as she did. I could feel her spirit in her dialogue with her brother, and I knew what she was doing, keeping that dialogue alive. There was a rhythm to this book that reminded ...more
Oct 09, 2009 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
A well-meaning but ultimately insubstantial read, I feel the $1.00 price tag on this bargain book is an accurate reflection of its quality. The author tries to take us into the often challenging and sometimes rewarding world of foster parenting, while attempting to explore issues of racial and social discrimination. The biggest message of the book was supposed to be how much Alice (a single, white, 48-year-old middle class woman) changed as the result of foster parenting Larissa (a six-year-old ...more
Jan 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2010
Touching story of a woman who answers the phone late a night and gets involved in a little girl's life when she realizes the six-year-old has been left alone. She goes as far as to apply to be a foster parent when the girl goes into the system.

It seems realistic: the reactions of the little girl, the struggles of new parenthood, and the irresponsible but sympathetic mother. And it ended beautifully.

My only complaint ... I read the first chapter and set it aside, only going back later to read it
Sep 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
I'd maybe give it 4 1/2 stars.
What I liked: The characters are believable. Not dull and one-dimensional at all. I have had deaf friends and I liked the way the deaf people in the novel are portrayed. There are some really tender parts in the book, but they never cross the line and become cheesy. It isn't a trite happily-ever-after book, which in some ways is hard, but it makes it more believable. It isn't a happy-ever-after situation. It is a book that I won't just forget. I find myself thinking
Jun 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Although The Sound of Us by Sarah Willis was published in 2005, I just discovered it and am really glad that I did. I really enjoyed this book.

Alice is an almost 50 year old woman, never married, childless, whose twin brother has recently died. She receives a phone call from a child, a wrong number, that begins a series of events that change her life.

A very moving story, with characters who are believable and easy to connect with. There are no quick, simple solutions to the challenges faced by
Nov 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Leslie
Shelves: fiction
I love finding treasures at the library. This is one of those. It was on the "Not new but worth a view" shelf. The story of a single woman who is trying to make the best of life but really is sad and lonely. She receives a phone call late one night from a scared six year old, and she determines to do the right thing this time in her life. The story unfolds and what I liked was that the people were not cookie cutter good and bad, but nuanced. And they learned about themselves. All circling around ...more
Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing

"I loved this book and couldn't put it down, read in less than a day. My 17 yr. old son watched a little girl of about 3 in the mall for long enough to realize that no one was with her. He called security, they told him that it was not as uncommon as he would like to believe. He just wanted to bring her home to me and keep her out of the mess of the system.
The book is well written, gentle and hard hitting at the same time. What is poor parenting, what is society's answer and how many chances doe
Jan 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
If you haven't read anything from this author, I suggest starting with this book. I loved this book and couldn't wait to finish it to learn what happens. I was drawn immediately into the world of little Larissa and felt strongly connected to all of the characters in the story. Willis did a wonderful job making this read as though it was non-fiction. Simply captivating and one I will always remember.
Inge Hulsker
Nov 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
In het nederlands 'Gebarentaal'. Een onverwacht pareltje. Heel fijn geschreven, ik kon het niet wegleggen. De personages komen goed tot leven. De relatie tussen Alice en de 6-jarige Larissa is heel lief. Deed mij erg denken aan Luca, dat ik toevallig pas gelezen hebt. Ik vind Gebarentaal beter uitgewerkt en een bevredigender einde. Aanrader!
May 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Finally, a portrayal of a single woman without the disdain or loneliness. Alice's twin brother recently died, and she stumbles on a project to keep her mind off of the loss: a 6-yr-old girl with a negligent mother and a stuffed bunny named Lucy. Alice becomes a foster parent struggling to find her place in a family dynamic that is constantly changing. An interesting side note: Alice is a sign language interpreter and the story takes place in Cleveland and Columbus.
Oct 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
A really moving look at a child as she moves through the foster care system. None of the characters is perfect and there is something to like about each of them. My heart goes out to anyone who finds themselves in a situation that requires foster care, but I believe that in many cases it is the best possible solution.
Dec 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Wow. A great book about foster care and the experience of loving other people's children. Oddly enough, the mother in this book shares Jerzee's moms name and I can see some similarity in their cases. Willis does a great job of describing how quickly you can fall for a kid, and what that can do to your perceptions of biological parents, for better and worse. Loved it and read it very quickly.
Feb 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is a bittersweet book about a woman who has lived a solitary life, and how she changes as her life intersects with that of a frightened child. Compelling and thoughtful, Willis explores the ambiguities of human relationships. A wonderful book.
Oct 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I don't really know how to write my feelings for this book without spoiling it. It makes you think about your definition of love and family. It gives you hope that your life can change when you're least expecting it, and for the better if you work at it. The best book I've read all year.
Mar 06, 2008 rated it liked it
I liked this book - found myself thinking about it a lot even when I was not reading it. I think the beginning and the middle are a lot stronger than the ending, but the characters are complex and fascinating.
Oct 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is the latest by the author of "Some things that stay"-- about a woman who becomes a foster parent and the complex issues involved--emotions that change a person. This book reminded me of "The Bone People" by Keri Hulme in some ways.
Aug 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely a good read - I was enthralled. I have often thought of being foster parents at some point in our lives so this was very eye opening and thought provoking. Although, I have to say, the author could have cut out some of the language . . .
Aug 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
Found the book on a free pile and figured it would be a toss-away. No! Extremely readable. The emotions and actions felt authentic, obviously a product of good research and a generous portion of insight. I'll look for more of Willis' books.
Kat Jimenez
Jun 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
I liked the realistic portrayal of the foster care system. I worked in the system for 10 years. I liked this clear story with nuances about forgiveness, love and redemption. It's fast read and I'd recommend it.
Jun 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book. I was so involved in this story that I read the book in 2 days! The story starts with a random phone call to a wrong number and we watch this serendipitous moment change the lives of the central characters.
Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
What a sweet book, a touching story of the growth of a 48 year old woman.
Oct 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though Alice has struggles like everyone else the story is more uplifting than “A Good Distance” also by Sarah Willis. The story has adventure, touches the heart and is true to life.
Jan 07, 2010 rated it liked it
This is a very easy read about a 49-year old woman who ends up fostering a 6-year old. It was simple and enjoyable but a bit of a light right.
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