If You Could See What I Hear Critical Context - Essay

Derek L. T. Gill, Tom Sullivan

Critical Context

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Sullivan wrote If You Could See What I Hear in order to express his philosophy of living life to the fullest, whatever the obstacles. Thus, he serves as a vital role model for young adults who require such encouragement. Sullivan also represents all those who face discrimination. He has written that, because of the inconvenience of blindness, he has had to spend much of his life struggling against the labels that society often places on members of any minority group. As a result of this pressure, Sullivan admits, he did many crazy things simply to prove that he could do them. Many young adults will understand this impulse to fit in and to persuade others of their worth.

After If You Could See What I Hear, Sullivan went on to write other autobiographical accounts. In 1976, he published Adventures in Darkness, which was written specifically for a young adult audience. Fifteen years later, he teamed with actress and animal-rights advocate Betty White to tell the story of Dinah, Sullivan’s faithful guide dog that had to retire because of old age. The Leading Lady (1991) examines Dinah’s new life with White. Sullivan’s enthusiasm and storytelling ability have earned him some fame, as evidenced by the film adaptation of If You Could See What I Hear in 1982.