Mother Father Deaf
by Paul Preston
Paul Preston, the author, is the son of a deaf couple. He wanted to write a book that opened the world to the truth about growing up with deaf parents. He now manages the newly created National Research and Training Center for Families of Adults with Disabilities. This is a nonprofit organization located in Berkeley, California called Through the Looking Glass. He is also a research associate in medical anthropology at the University of California, San Francisco. He has not written any other books.
This book is non-fiction. It is a research book designed to take the reader into the deaf and hearing cultures, where families embody the conflicts and resolutions of the two often opposing world views. He interviewed one hundred fifty hearing children of deaf parents. He had to limit his research to one hundred fifty since several hundred people volunteered their experiences. This is a rich analysis that is remarkable for its insights into a family normally closed to outsiders. These stories challenge many of mainstream society’s common myths and beliefs about hearing and deafness and illustrate the drama of belonging.
The study was done during the mid 90’s and it was carried out throughout the United States. The main character is Paul himself but the interviews he conducts are very interesting. I found what Martin, an interviewed subject, said about his father very sad. His dad was a carpenter for several years and never got a supervisory position or went beyond an hourly wage. He stayed with the same company because to get hired as a deaf person was very difficult, as a result he traveled with that company wherever it went and rarely ever saw or spent time with his family. This was all because he was deaf. This is just one of the many discriminating experiences that many of the deaf put up with. It’s better now but it still exist even if it is within the deaf person themselves.
This book was interesting because it broadened my view of a different culture. I liked most learning about how children of deaf parents still learn how to talk with the similar ability of a child with hearing parents only no one fully understands why or how this happens, but it does. What I liked least about the book was the language; I am not one for foul language so I did not appreciate reading it. I would like to read another book by this author because he does unique work that is based on factual experiences and he holds no punches even when he disagrees with the material. He is a fair writer and I hope he can write another book maybe on the subject of mainstreaming. I would only recommend this book to people that are interested in the deaf community or work with the deaf. It is a little dry for leisure reading but if you have a goal of learning then I would recommend it. I would give this book an 8.5 on a scale from 1 to 10 because it is a research book and because of the language.