Jill Wasberg's Reviews > The Sign for Drowning

The Sign for Drowning by Rachel Stolzman
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it was ok
bookshelves: book-club

Review of Sign for Drowning

I wanted to give this book a ‘1’. Whereas the subject matter of losing a loved one in a tragic accident, adoption, growing up deaf, raising a deaf child, society’s historical efforts in educating and socializing deaf children had a lot of potential to hold my attention, I consistently felt let down by the narration. It was flat and absolutely void of any emotion beyond fear and regret. The story is a sad one, but sad stories usually exist to show even the faintest glimmers of salvation.

Many of us know that happiness, although a natural emotion, isn’t a human right. The ACLU isn’t out there defending your right to be happy, because they would be defending you against yourself. You aren’t granted the right to feel happiness at any time in life. You just are happy or you aren’t as you move day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. In other words, there are times when one has to work to achieve happiness.

Anyone who has faced any kind of horrific tragedy—the death of a loved one, a seemingly inescapable addiction, an irreparable relationship, abuse inflicted on one as a child or adult—knows what it feels like to work very, very hard for happiness and not let the darker emotions that weigh heavily on one’s every waking second take over for good. It is hard work, and I’m not even sure at this point in my life if I’m one to talk. Life has served me minor annoyances and certainly heartbreaking moments, but I don’t believe I’ve dealt at this point with true tragedy.

But I have know others that have overcome their darkest moments, those times in life that pushed them to find anything else that had a glimpse of good in it in order to not only get their hope back but also be of service and inspiration to those around them. To say I admire these people is an understatement. And even in fiction, the stories with characters that work to overcome the darkest periods of their lives by channeling the negative energy that comes from a tragedy into something productive and fertile are the stories I remember and appreciate.

I did give this book a ‘2’ because it obviously got a reaction out of me, and so I have to recognize that it caused me to think and reflect. The mother in this story is a lost cause, and I knew this by the middle of the book. She proves this toward the end in an action I can’t say I was expecting, but all in all, fit the rhythm of this story. I felt that this was a woman who thought happiness was hers to have day in and day out, and the death of her daughter as a young toddler was a particularly cruel knock against her that she chose to allow bury her. Her demise was truly a hopeless situation that left me feeling both disgusted at her selfish actions and determined in my own life to never take happiness for granted.
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Reading Progress

February 28, 2010 – Started Reading
February 28, 2010 – Shelved
February 28, 2010 – Shelved as: book-club
February 28, 2010 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Jill, I love your book reviews. Can I give this one 5 stars? Well put.


Jill Wasberg Thank you! I wondered if anyone ever read them. :) I just enjoy writing them so much.


Jill Wasberg Did you read this book?


message 4: by Melissa (new)

Melissa No, and the subject matter might be a little much for me. I definitely feel like we have to work on happiness and don't just get it with our little princess tiara brainwashing. Life has hills and valleys and you just keep on keepin' on...etc, etc. Although, death of a child is one I hope to never experience, and who's to say I would be able to grieve respectably.


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