If a Tree Falls

If a Tree Falls


Jennifer Rosner
Jennifer Rosner’s revelatory memoir explores family, silence, and what it means to be heard.

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Paperback Edition
Publication Date: 05-01-2010

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When her daughters are born deaf, Rosner is stunned. Then she discovers a hidden history of deafness in her family, going back generations to the Jewish enclaves of Eastern Europe. Traveling back in time, she imagines her silent relatives, who showed surprising creativity in dealing with a world that preferred to ignore them. 

Rosner shares her journey into the modern world of deafness, and the controversial decisions she and her husband have made about hearing aids, cochlear implants and sign language. An imaginative odyssey, punctuated by memories of being unheard, Rosner’s story of her daughters’ deafness is at heart a story of whether she—a mother with perfect hearing—will hear her children.

"Rosner turns what could have been a depressing story into a gentle meditation on sound and silence, love and family. She writes with honesty and empathy... She fills the discussion with philosophy and grace." Publishers Weekly

“Deep and moving truths fall out of this enchanting memoir, as deafness becomes a means of exploring the grave obstacles we all face in knowing what it is like to be another." —Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction

"This beautiful book is about listening—really listening—to children, history, and one's own knowing heart. It's an exquisite memoir, crossed with poetry and the unmistakable shine of truth." —Catherine Newman, author of Waiting for Birdy

"With profund honesty and endearing humility, Rosner writes about the searing emotional challenges that parents can face, and about absorbing these lessons and moving into deeper wisdom. A beautiful, deeply felt exploration of love and hard choices." —Josh Swiller, author of The Unheard: A Memoir of Deafness and Africa

“This wrenching journey into deafness from the standpoint of a mother, a wife, a daughter, a philosopher, and a Jew explores the meaning of sound in a soundless world. If a Tree Falls shows the extent to which what we hear comes not only from our contemporaries but from the people who came before us and those who will succeed us.” —Ilan Stavans, author of On Borrowed Words: A Memoir of Language

"Jennifer Rosner's If a Tree Falls is the kind of memoir that reminds the reader how we are all part of the same long line: complicated selves finding our way in a world that challenges us to discover our deeper resilience and untold strengths." —Vicki Forman, author of This Lovely Life: A Memoir of Premature Motherhood