Born and raised in the Town of Wilkie, Joanne Weber came home Thanksgiving weekend to share excerpts from her new book, The Deaf House, with the community.
About 30 people – a pretty impressive turnout for a small town on a long weekend – came to McLurg High School Oct. 12, to hear Weber speak and read from her book.
Joanne described The Deaf House as “a very fictionalized autobiography,” saying, “I tend to embellish things.”
She suffers, and has always suffered, from profound hearing loss but with persistent, active parenting and teaching from her parents, Ed and particularly Lois Weber, she can function in the Hearing world to such an extent she holds several university degrees. For many years, while a single parent with two young Hearing daughters, she worked as a Northwest Regional College literacy co-ordinator, travelling throughout northwest Saskatchewan.
On the other hand, Joanne can’t and never could hear the conversations swirling around her at the family dinner table, in school hallways or staff lunchrooms.
More recent events, feelings and challenges intermingle with flashbacks to childhood in The Deaf House. Interspersed throughout are pieces from her mother’s Green Journal, a diary Lois kept of Joanne’s progress in learning language as well as of family worries.
At the reading, well-chosen book excerpts read aloud evoked visible emotion in members of the audience – chuckles, a glimpse of understanding of frustrations felt, sadness and a tightening of the throat.
The excerpts spanned much of her life, from very early childhood memories to adolescence and memories of McLurg High School, to single parenting in North Battleford to her current position at Thom Collegiate in Regina where she works with deaf and hard-of-hearing high school students.
She concluded with the last lines of her book, which indicate she has found a sort of acceptance. “There is no solution, no cure, no rehabilitation, there is my body that just is. Fired into the world, my Deaf body has become the house for me.”
Following the reading, Weber sold and signed copies of her book, which officially launches Oct. 30 in Regina.
The Deaf House has received early praise from reviewers. Gary Malkowski, L.H.D., formerly North America’s only Deaf Parliamentarian, said, “The Deaf House is an absolute must-read for every reader, especially parents of deaf and hard of hearing children, educators and administrators in the areas of deaf education, special education, and educational policy.”
The book is a very personal story and one many Deaf people would not be able to tell because they would not have the array of words to do so.
James Roots, in his review of the book for The Literary Review of Canada, entitled the review: “Faking Your Way Through Life – A memoir captures the tension between the deaf and hearing worlds.” Before discussing the book, he points out “Communication is a prerequisite to belonging. Belonging to a family, a school, a culture – it does not matter …” His review can be found at http://reviewcanada.ca/magazine/2013/10/faking-your-way-through-life/
Weber’s The Deaf House is in many ways the story of her search for belonging. It is available online at the publisher’s website, http://www.thistledownpress.com/index.cfm, and is also available at Crandleberry’s in North Battleford and McNally Robinson in Saskatoon. Joanne will be reading at McNally Robinson, October 29.