All Eyes: A Memoir of Deafness
by Bainy B. Cyrus

"Imagine suddenly becoming deaf and then having to learn a foreign language. That's the same thing as being born deaf."

In the early sixties, diagnosing hearing disorders was no small feat. Was a silent baby autistic, aphasic, or mentally retarded? In Cyrus' case, she was deaf—a 75 percent hearing loss caused by her mother's rubella. Thus begins a fascinating tale of one person's struggle to survive and choose between two disparate worlds: the hearing populace or the Deaf community. In an era when sign language was deemed "repulsive," Cyrus' hearing parents chose the world of sound. The five-year-old was sent 700 miles away to the most reputable oral program in the country, Clarke School for the Deaf.

With a blend of humor and disarming honesty, Cyrus illustrates her struggles to pronounce letters that can't be heard, comprehend new words without having context and understand a simple cliche. When she entered college, the invisible wall thickened between her and the hearing world, and she despaired of ever fitting in. Ironically, she discovered that blending into the Deaf culture was equally difficult given the hostility between the signing deaf and the speaking deaf, and the existence of two types of sign language, ASL and SEE. Determined to find her true identity, she learned to sign and explored the deaf culture at long last.

Her journey is intriguing and satisfyingly full of surprising facts (most deaf people hold their breath while talking) and revelations (she was determined to marry a "hearing guy"). With heartbreak, humor, and bravery, Cyrus' narration bridges the gap between hearing and deaf people and encourages understanding of disabilities in general.

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