Friday, November 16, 2018

Book Review: 'Not a Sound' by Heather Gudenkauf

Forty-year old Amelia Winn was a respected nurse in an Iowa hospital, where she worked in the emergency room for fifteen years. Subsequently, she specialized in treating victims of domestic abuse. Tragically, Amelia is severely injured when an unidentified driver intentionally barrels into her and a patient. Most of her wounds have healed, but the assault robbed Amelia of her hearing. In despair, she turns to alcohol to anesthetize her pain, and for the past two years, has been unemployed and estranged from her husband, David. Fortunately, the scenic beauty that surrounds Amelia's modest house is a source of comfort; she regularly goes paddle boating and kayaking with her loyal companion and service dog, Stitch.

"Not a Sound," by Heather Gudenkauf, who herself is hearing impaired, eloquently conveys Amelia's anguish and dejection. The good news is that she is starting to emerge from her depression. She is studying American Sign Language and reads lips, but when the speaker talks quickly and indistinctly, she cannot always decipher what he is saying. Amelia is sober and hopes to get a job in a local medical practice. One morning, while out on the river, Amelia finds the body of a former friend and colleague, Gwen Locke.

Gudenkauf's depiction of Amelia's plight is heartrending. Living without sound devastated Amelia to such an extent that she cut off contact with friends and family. However, with a killer at large, Amelia feels vulnerable, and she turns to Jake Schroeder--a detective and childhood friend--for advice and protection. Jake warns Amelia, a busybody who cannot resist playing amateur sleuth, to leave the investigating to him. The whodunit is conventional and predictable, and Amelia's ability to stay on the wagon without attending AA meetings regularly seems a bit far-fetched. However, readers will embrace this plucky heroine who learns that being deaf need not rob her of independence, fulfilling work, and meaningful relationships. Stitch is particularly appealing; he is arguably the most likeable and liveliest character in the book.

Editor's note: This review was written by Eleanor Bukowsky and has been reposted with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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