Not a Sound
by Heather Gudenkauf
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Goodreads: See here
Plot at a Glance:
When a tragic accident leaves Amelia Winn profoundly deaf, she spirals into depression that causes her to lose everything that matters: her job, her husband, and her child. Now, two years later she is finally getting back on her feet, with the help of her service dog, Stitch. But when she makes a horrifying discovery on the river behind her home, she is plunged into a mystery that threatens to uproot the carefully cultivated stability she has worked so hard to achieve.
My father was born Deaf, and my entire family uses American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate with him and his friends. I was really interested in checking this book out as much for the plot as I was to see how the main character’s deafness was conveyed.
I was pleasantly surprised by the level of respect that was paid to Amelia’s hearing impairment. It helps that Heather Gudenkauf herself is profoundly deaf, and clearly uses Amelia as a conduit by which to relate her own personal experience and expertise on the subject. Gudenkauf avoids the emotional trauma trope that so often accompanies deafness by having the reader meet Amelia two years after her accident.
The mystery that Amelia becomes entangled in is fast-paced and engaging, although I do wish that certain aspects hadn’t connected so personally to her at the end. I thought it was enough that she was dragged into events at the start of the story without her control and would have enjoyed if that theme continued instead of the novice detective novel that it sort of becomes in the middle. I thought that a little too much leeway might have been taking in keeping Amelia apprised of certain information that she legally would not have been privy to.
The suspense here is slow burning for a lot of the story as Amelia works out the truth of the situation she’s become entangled in, but don’t let that turn you off to it. By the final act of the story, it’s a roaring fire of suspense that couldn’t put down. In a lot of ways, I was reminded of the movie “Hush” that came out in 2016, which featured a deaf protagonist placed in a similar dangerous situation.
Gudenkauf’s writing style is so engaging and immersive, and Amelia is such a strong character that I ended up enjoying this novel immensely. There’s a lot to admire here, and I really enjoyed how hearing impairment was portrayed here in a respectful way that was also very educational to readers. I’m definitely going to keep my eye out for future offerings from this author!
🌟🌟🌟🌟✩ = 4 stars out of 5!
Have you read this book? Have you come across any others featuring a deaf protagonist? I’d love to hear about them!