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Burn Down the Ground: A Memoir by Kambri…

Burn Down the Ground: A Memoir

by Kambri Crews

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7920152,477 (3.45)3

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Well-written and poignant, this memoir was a nice change from my usual biographical fare, which is mostly comprised of mental illness treatises and rape survivor stories.

Kambri Crews grew up a hearing child with deaf parents, so the reader is treated to an interesting and valuable education about the Deaf community. Ostensibly, though, that's not what the book is about. Kambri is not deaf, and although being Deaf is a large part of her parents' identity, this is her memoir, not theirs. In the end, it's the story of an abusive childhood at the hands of a predatory father and a battered mother. How deeply these problems run and how profoundly they shaped Kambri's childhood isn't really clear until the end. The majority of the book lives up to the Jeannette Walls/The Glass Castle comparison, although this memoir offers insight and ruminations rather than just a linear account of unusual childhood circumstances. (I would recommend this over The Glass Castle in terms of appeal as a good read.)

One small aside -- a nitpick: at the beginning, the author makes a big deal out of recounting her mother's "deaf, not dumb" slogan; as in, "deaf, not unintelligent." "Dumb" was originally slang for "mute," and deaf people sometimes are mute -- as in not communicating via voice. I would never use the phrase because it does have a negative connotation, but equating "dumb" in the phrase "deaf not dumb" with "stupid" is inaccurate from what I understand. Dumb = mute. ( )
  dysmonia | Apr 15, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. I had completely forgotten about it until I pulled some books out of hiding. I personally thought the beginning was slow but I realized at the end that the author was creating a slow roll to the grand finale. Crews actually did a good job and it was well worth the read to learn about ASL and to experience her personal writing style, but it isn't a book I Would recommend to most or one I'd be eager to re readmany times. It was just a pleasant evening read. I do recommend it if you're looking for something different. ( )
  QueenAlyss | Mar 27, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A unique memoir about growing up with deaf parents- and being able to hear. Crews writes with hope and humor, and her book was un-put-down-able! The writing style was lovely and concise... a great showing from an author I look forward to seeing more from.
1 vote PirateColey | Sep 25, 2012 |
This book, yet another memoir of a hardscrabble childhood, has its slow spots, but it really gets going when the author describes her hearing-impaired father's descent into alcoholism, paranoia, and rage. ( )
1 vote akblanchard | Jun 16, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Found this book to be very well written and engaging. Thought provoking for me as I found myself keep thinking how hard that must have been being able to hear yourself but having parents who couldn't . Many different levels of emotion going on with her story. I would definitely recommend this book.
1 vote justablondemoment | May 24, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
“Crews’ account (the title refers to lighting brush on fire to clear out snakes) is as well-paced and stirring as a novel. In her fluid narrative (she’s also a storyteller on the side, a gig that helped her develop this book), Crews neither wallows in self-pity nor plays for cheap black-comedic yuks. Instead, this book stands out for what matters most: Crews’ story, bluntly told.” –ELLE magazine
added by kambric | editElle Magazine (Mar 1, 2012)
An impressive outpouring of compelling memoirs is being published. The best ones read like fine fiction. They churn with conflict and tension. This steady friction moves these stories along. Here are a pair of exemplary new offerings...
While there’s plenty of memoir fodder in the hearing-child-of-two-deaf-parents subject, Crews’s story has heartbreaking depth and complexity. With insight into her father’s feelings about deafness, his über-Christian family’s response to his violence against the women in his life, and the culture of the deaf community, this is a rich read.
added by kambric | editLibrary Journal, Julie Kane (Feb 15, 2012)
A New York publicist and producer’s unsparing yet compassionate account of her dysfunctional childhood and the father who both charmed and victimized her family.

Poignant and unsettling.
added by kambric | editKirkus Reviews (Feb 15, 2012)
“…a compelling testament to the strength of the human spirit.”
added by kambric | editBooklist Online, Allison Block (pay site) (Feb 1, 2012)
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For my mother
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It can't be pretty without being ugly first.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345516028, Hardcover)

Photos from Burn Down the Ground
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Kambri, age 9, in front of the outhouse saying "I love you" in sign language. Kambri's father and their fancy Toyota! Oh, what a feeling!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:09 -0400)

In this memoir, a daughter looks back on her unconventional childhood with deaf parents in rural Texas while trying to reconcile it to her present life, one in which her father is serving a twenty-year sentence in a maximum-security prison. As a child, she wished that she had been born deaf so that she, too, could fully belong to the tight-knit deaf community that embraced her parents. Her beautiful mother was a saint who would swiftly correct anyone's notion that deaf equaled dumb. Her handsome father, on the other hand, was more likely to be found hanging out with the sinners. Strong, gregarious, and hardworking, he managed to turn a wild plot of land into a family homestead complete with running water and electricity. To Kambri, he was Daniel Boone, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ben Franklin, and Elvis Presley all rolled into one. But if Kambri's dad was Superman, then the hearing world was his kryptonite. The isolation that accompanied his deafness unlocked a fierce temper, a rage that a teenage Kambri witnessed when he attacked her mother, and that culminated fourteen years later in his conviction for another violent crime. In this memoir she explores her complicated bond with her father, which begins with adoration, moves to fear, and finally arrives at understanding, as she tries to forge a new connection between them while he lives behind bars. This book is a portrait of living in two worlds, one hearing, the other deaf; one under the laid-back Texas sun, the other within the energetic pulse of New York City; one mired in violence, the other rife with possibility.… (more)

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