Tell Me How the Wind Sounds | Leslie Davis Guccione

Today I finished reading Tell Me How The Wind Sounds by Leslie Davis Guccione. It's not complicated. I read it when I was nine, got it from one of those book fairs from school. I loved it then, and I love it now.  

So, yes, it's not complicated. It's a young adult coming-of-age, fish-out-of-water, budding romance of two mid-to-late teens discovering each other's worlds. One is the deaf son of an island fisherman. The other is the spoiled daughter of a well-off professor, spending the summer with her family on the island in a rented cottage. The worlds collide, and obviously there are going to be several main points that a story like this couldn't do without: misunderstanding, learning a new language, coming out of a comfort zone, learning to open up to entirely different worlds, compromise, and ultimately that “anyone can hear the language of love," as the text on the cover explains.  

Alas, Amanda is not my favorite character ever written, by any stretch of the imagination. She is bratty and trite and self-consumed. And while Jake can be, as well, we understand his reason for being so, far more than we can understand hers. He's deaf. She's just spoiled. So honestly, I don't like that he falls for her, because I really think he's too good for her and that she doesn't deserve him. That makes me selfish, I know, but I never fully believe that she cares for him the way he cares for her or that she realizes the hurt that she's going to leave inside him at the end of the summer. That just makes my heart ache so stubbornly and fiercely for Jake. And not simply because I'm partially deaf and KNOW what it's like to be in that world, but because his side of the emotion is so plainly stated and obviously painful, while hers just seems so girlish and pathetic and not up to par with his.  

Too much of the book written from Jake's point of view only makes me care more about Jake. Not that I care about the fact that most of the book was written from his point of view: I like his view much better. And I'm sure the author knew that he was the more interesting of the two, which is why she focused on him more, even though it seems that Amanda was supposed to be the main focus of the book. When we get back to Amanda, I fade a little, waiting for Jake to reappear. Luckily, it's a young adult book, and it doesn't take long for Jake to reappear (unlike The Witch of Blackbird Pond, where we have to wait and salivate FOREVER for Nat Eaton to reappear; damn you, Elizabeth George Speare!). Jake is an awesome character, and our trips inside his silence are great.  

There are some typos that are hard to overlook: the misuse of “peak/pique" and the misspelling of “racked" are two obvious ones that glare at me repeatedly through the pages. But for all that I'm not the biggest fan of Amanda, my love for Jake will make me recommend this book to anyone wanting to teach a young reader how to treat a deaf person no differently from anyone else. It's a hard lesson to learn because, as humans, we want to have communication with each other, and there are two forces at play here for the lack of communication: One is that it's a different language to learn in order to communicate, and it's frustrating and takes time, on both sides, as all language barriers do. And two is that there is this awful stigma we place on the deaf (or those missing another sense) that losing this sense somehow makes that person stupid. If he can't understand me, then he must be stupid. It's a hard thing to overcome because we all do it, whether or not we know it, and I wish it weren't so. This book makes it plain how painful that is to someone who has to deal with it every day of his life, and that is what I cherish about this story. Along with this comes a third thing, and that is the fact that a deaf person is smart enough to know the second thing. There is a fear that comes with that for him: that if he tries too hard or looks too interested, he risks looking like a fool, risks looking exactly the way he knows or thinks other people look at him already. So it's easier to clam up, just to be alone in a very silent world. That must be a pain so vicious that I do not even dare comprehend it.

And that is what this story is to me. I love Jake's strength, frustration, silence, pain, impatience, and his struggle to be understood and treated like an intelligent human being, just as much now as I did when I was nine years old. Is the book classic? Oh, heavens no, not even close. But Jake is.

•I purchased this at a book sale as a teenager. I do not know the publisher or author.•

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