“For Willa and Robert, it’s a quiet time.
The sky takes on a greenish hue, and great bolts of lightning zigzag overhead. The rumble of thunder vibrates through the floor, and trees bend against the wind. Hailstones, some the size of marbles, pepper the windows and fracture on the driveway and sidewalks. Shutters flap against the siding. Soon, the street is littered with tree branches, roofing shingles, and assorted trash. A riderless tricycle blows by in odd concert with a trash can and a soccer ball. The noise is considerable, but for Willa and Robert, it’s a quiet time. It’s always a quiet time.”
So begins Different Ways of Being (Linkville Press), Alan Balter’s strong and sensitive novel about people who are Deaf. Willa and Robert are congenitally deaf and members of the Deaf Culture. They communicate with American Sign Language and prefer to socialize with other Deaf rather than interact with people who hear. For them, deafness is not a disability; thus, they don’t want to hear any more than hearing people want to be deaf. They consider marriages between deaf and hearing people to be “mixed marriages” that are destined to fail. So strong are the beliefs of members of the Deaf Culture that many would choose to abort a pregnancy rather than have a hearing child.