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Turn On the Light So I Can Hear by Teri…

Turn On the Light So I Can Hear

by Teri Kanefield

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Turn On the Light So I Can Hear from Teri Kanefield is both a wonderful portrayal of many of the issues surrounding deaf culture in a largely hearing world as well as a sort of (partial) coming of age story.

Having a protagonist who straddles deaf culture (hearing impaired) and fully hearing brings a nuance to the events we see as she interacts with two very different extremes. She tutors a deaf student whose family has insisted he not embrace deaf culture and she also becomes involved with a deaf man who insists on a clear and distinct separation between hearing and non-hearing cultures. Watching these things play out is a large part of the enjoyment of the book.

In some ways Bretna begins experiencing some coming-of-age moments as she reflects back to her dysfunctional family while experiencing all of these new and exciting events. It seems to me that the process is still ongoing, but then maybe we are all always coming of age throughout life since each "age" brings different pluses and minuses.

Kanefield's writing is superb and makes the world come alive, particularly in the first part of the book. I think the descriptors become a little muted as the story develops as a way of contrasting the cultures, particularly the boundary areas of the cultures.

I would highly recommend this to readers young and old (as well as in between) for both the wonderful writing and the portrayal of deaf culture and its place within society as a whole. ( )
  pomo58 | Dec 7, 2016 |
I loved this book. I didn't stop reading from page one to the end. Normally I don't like jumping from the past to the present and back and forth over and over. But in this book it worked perfectly. I don't think the book would have worked any other way. It was a wonderful set of characters that I really enjoyed getting to know. The descriptive quality of the writer was wonderful. I could see the sculptures described in the book so clearly. Wish i could buy one. They sounded so beautiful. I learned a lot about the world the deaf live in and the hearing as well. And how each perceive the other. Just another form of prejudice we as humans have. And that we should not have. No one should be looked down upon for any reason. Just an absolutely wonderful book. I will need to read more from this author. ( )
  deemelody | Apr 27, 2015 |
I have read a few books by Teri Kanefield. As alway her writing style just draws you in. I found myself getting lost in the book not wanting to put it down. I couldn't believe how vividly I could imagine the ASL symbols. This says a lot about Teris writing ability. She can make you feel like you are right there in the story. I look forward to reading more by Teri Kanefield. ( )
  Digilormo | Mar 14, 2015 |
I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This is the third book I have reviewed for this author. Each has been different. The main character in this book is Bretna. She is an artist. When her sculptures stop selling she looks for a job to pay the bills. She needs a job that will pay a certain amount and allow her to continue to work on her art. The solution to her problem? Take a job paying $18 an hour as an interpretor for a deaf student. Bretna has one major problem. She has taken the job by allowing them to believe she is qualified to work with this student, yet she has no sign language experience. Her solution is to take a class and private lessons. Thank goodness she is a quick learner. I thought it funny that she realized Alex’s signing ability was sloppier than hers. Alex just wants to fit in like any other student. He reminded me of a seventh grader I had who insisted on doing everything her hearing classmates did. She refused to allow her disability to define her.

Bretna shares a room with two other young ladies. The newest roommate, Rosie adds lots of drama to the mix. She just keeps going back to the same type of person. Curtis was her sign language instructor. It was only a matter of time before a relationship was built. Curtis didn’t necessarily agree with what Bretna’s plans were. However, after seeing that she really cares for Alex’s education, things move forward. She seems to be able to motivate both Curtis and Alex to take chances in their lives. I had an issue with her contact at the school. She had a deaf son who was personal friend’s with Alex’s parents. She didn’t agree with them allowing Alex to go to a regular high school. She thought they should only let him attend schools that were for the deaf. She believed in isolating them. I think she hindered Alex’s progress in many ways. She almost seemed spiteful when it came to changing Alex’s classes. That would be my take on it from an educator’s perspective.

It would be interesting to find out if the author has any background in art. She speaks about different people in colors. It is funny because I really understood that. The art relationship was very intriguing. Her writing is so descriptive that I could picture her sculptures and her drawings. Bretna’s issues with her family were heartbreaking. The fact that she’d had a fairly severe hearing problem helped her understand Alex and Curtis’s world better. When she talked about her surgery to restore part of her hearing I understood. My son was not even a year old when he had to have tubes put in his ears. I remember coming back from the hospital a semi drove by and my son put his hands over his ears. As he began to talk we realized there were so many sounds he could not hear. Soft Ps, Vs, Ts.
I was able to understand a lot of this from Bretna’s viewpoint. I learned the sign language alphabet when I was very young. My grandmother was deaf. She had meniere’s disease. She was an expert at reading lips. I learned to talk slowly to those with hearing deficits as I had my grandmother. This was an extremely enjoyable book. It is one I will probably read again.
  skstiles612 | Jan 20, 2015 |
I received a copy of this book from the author via LibraryThing’s Member Giveaways in return for an honest review.

For me, the plot line could have been tighter. Yes, Bretna is a starving artist, but what is her end objective? She obviously takes on the job for the $18/hour paycheck because bills are tight, but there is a real disconnect about what her plans are for when school ends.

What the reader is given is a good chunk of a story that would be better if it were plumped out. The transitions within the story were sudden and jarring, and the story skidded to a sudden and unanticipated stop, leaving issues unresolved (Bretna/Alex/school, Bretna/Curtis, Bretna/herself).

Within chapter changes were confusing. One moment Bretna is interpreting for Alex in the present, and in the next paragraph she’s narrating a scene from her past. SomeTHING needs to be used to distinguish between past and present narrative (e.g., italics for scenes of the past)

What is the point of Rosie? I found her extremely irritating, and I don’t think she added anything to the story at all. The scene where Bretna sees Curtis while she’s out with Rosie chasing her on-again/off-again boyfriend could have been written differently for Bretna to make her observations and not to include Rosie and her melodrama.

There is one very magical aspect of the story that I loved – Bretna’s way of describing people using color. For example, her description of her sign language instructor Curtis as “a reflective blue mixed with green, the color of a tropical ocean—cool but teeming with life and enormous depth” [Teri Kanefield. Turn On the Light So I Can Hear (Kindle Locations 291-292). Armon Books. Kindle Edition.]. I am a very visual reader who creates pictures in my head as I read, so having characters described in this way was fresh and wonderfully different. ( )
  DawnAllenbach | Jan 8, 2015 |
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