A “remarkable and insightful” look inside a New York City school for the deaf, blending memoir and history (The New York Times Book Review).
Leah Hager Cohen is part of the hearing world, but grew up among the deaf community. Her Russian-born grandfather had been deaf—a fact hidden by his parents as they took him through Ellis Island—and her father served as superintendent at the Lexington School for the Deaf in Queens. Young Leah was in the minority, surrounded by deaf culture, and sometimes felt like she was missing the boat—or in the American Sign Language term, “train go sorry.”
Here, the award-winning writer looks back on this experience and also explores a pivotal moment in deaf history, when scientific advances and cultural attitudes began to shift and collide—in a unique mix of journalistic reporting and personal memoir that is “a must-read” (Chicago Sun-Times).
“The history of the Lexington School for the Deaf, the oldest school of its kind in the nation, comes alive with Cohen’s vivid descriptions of its students and administrators. The author, who grew up at the school, follows the real-life events of Sofia, a Russian immigrant, and James, a member of a poor family in the Bronx, as well as members of her own family both past and present who are intimately associated with the school. Cohen takes special pride in representing the views of the deaf community—which are sometimes strongly divided—in such issues as American Sign Language (ASL) vs. oralism, hearing aids vs. cochlear implants, and mainstreaming vs. special education. The author’s lively narrative includes numerous conversations translated from ASL . . . a one-of-a-kind book.” —Library Journal
“Throughout the book, Cohen focuses on two students whose Russian and African American roots exemplify the school’s increasingly diverse population . . . beautifully written.” —Booklist