What is the summary for A Loss for Words: The Story of Deafness in a Family?

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Lou Ann Walker give us incredible insight into her family in A Loss of Words: The Story of Deafness in a Family.  She grew up as the ears and the voice of both of her parents and describes her experience in this autobiography.

Gale and Doris Walker weren't deaf and dumb from birth, but became so because of sicknesses in their youths.  They both grew up, married, and had three beautiful non-deaf children.  One of those children is Lou Ann Walker, the author of this book.  Lou Ann explains how, being the oldest of the three children, she was often asked to interpret for her parents.  There is much humor here in having a child interpret for her parents, but also some real sad truth in the reactions of people that shows discrimination against the Walkers due to their disability. 

Lou Ann Walker in A Loss of Words: The Story of Deafness in a Family is not focused on simply bolstering the life of the deaf and the dumb, but rather sharing the frustrations of living amid the closeness of this disability.  There are times when Lou Ann feels terribly pressured and burdened, so much so that she flees from the family: she attends both Harvard University and Ball State, studies to be an educator for the deaf, and eventually becomes a writer in New York City.  Now, however, Lou Ann recounts how often she visits with the deaf members of her family.  She relates the memories and the joys their family shares.

In conclusion, it's important to realize that this is a book about the importance of looking beyond a disability into a person's heart and soul.  The key to the book is as follows:

I'd seen plenty of families where there was more communication and less love.

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shmindle | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 2) Honors

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A Loss of Words: The Story of Deafness in a Family is an autobiography by Lou Ann Walker. Lou Ann grows up with two deaf parents. Her mother, Doris Jean, and her father, Gale Walker, both become deaf as infants. They later end up going to the same school, Indiana School for the Deaf, and meet and fall in love at a blind date. Lou Ann is the eldest of three sisters.

Although communication was never an issue, Lou Ann always worried about how outsiders would view her family. She becomes pressured to grow up fast because of her parents' situation; she has to handle many adult tasks at a young age and witnesses the injustice that her parents and other deaf people experience day to day.

At college at Ball State University in Indiana, Lou Ann studies to become a deaf education teacher. After graduating, she works for a magazine and gets registered as a deaf interpreter.

When working as an interpreter one day, she comes to a realization that she spent her life supporting her deaf parents and never spent any time discovering who she, as a person, was. This causes her to panic. She is eventually able to come to terms with her childhood anger and even write her experiences.

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