Twelve-year-old Marco Lippa is the star pitcher for his Little League baseball team and does his best to lead his team to victory against their cross-town rivals, reveling in the cheering and applause. After one particular game, he becomes sick and is rushed to the hospital. Treated for meningococcal disease, Marco wakes up to discover that he is deaf—and all of his dreams seem to crumble.
Now Marco must come to terms with living in a silent world—and the grief, anger, and loss that seem to go with it. He is enrolled at the state boarding school for the deaf, leaving behind his comfortable home and his family and friends while he re-learns how to communicate and function without his hearing.
As if that wasn’t hard enough, he quickly discovers that being deaf does not exempt him from the “normal” anxieties he faced at home—bullies, girls, and fitting in. Will he ever find his way back to his dreams?
“This heartwarming coming-of-age story will resonate with many deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as well as their hearing families and friends. It is both a realistic and an upbeat account of how one young man confronts his sudden deafness and in doing so, realizes that it need not keep him from attaining his dreams.”—I. King Jordan, President, Gallaudet University
“This inspirational novel beautifully represents how family support, the resilience of youth, and the universal languages of love and friendship can help overcome any obstacle. Mr. Tomasso does a superb job of illustrating the beauty of two cultures and how we are all better by embracing diversity.”—Harold Mowl, Jr.. PhD, Superintendent, Rochester School for the Deaf
“A positive story about meeting a special life challenge.”—Jeanne Griffin, Deaf Friends International
“Tomasso has a likeable rhythm/pace in his writing style. Where you are in your own deaf experience will shade the meaning of the book for you. Some might say that Marco only ‘lost his hearing,’ he didn’t become deaf. Their experience with hearing loss will invite different interpretations of Marco’s journey. Marco does appear to easily join ‘deafness’ but Tomasso introduces enough ambiguity about this new chosen identity to keep us wanting to learn more of Marco’s journey after the book ends.”—Max Wilhite, American Society for Deaf Children
“Sounds of Silence is a memorable story about a boy dealing with dashed dreams after a battle with meningitis leaves him deaf. Phillip Tomasso’s poignant yet witty portrayal of courage and determination kept me captivated page after page. The only thing missing was a box of tissues.”—K.G. Wehner, author, Amy & Tracy: Dr. Von Thistle’s Curious Concoction
“Sounds of Silence is a realistic and warm story of the journey of a young boy coming to acceptance with his hearing loss.”—Janice Justice: Cajun’s Song by Darlene Toole
I was sick and didn’t know it. By the time I did, it was already too late. Patrick and I tossed a baseball back and forth in the backyard. He stood by the tree at one end of the yard. I aligned myself with a fern my mother had planted. We knew it was about the right distance from a pitcher to the catcher because we had practiced out here lots of times before.
As soon as my black lab, Whitney, knew she wasn’t getting the ball, she hid from the sun under the shade of the maple tree. It was early evening, but still really hot.
We took it easy since we had a Little League game the next day and didn’t want to wear ourselves out. Ever since T-ball days, we’ve managed to be on the same team. How lucky is that?
He is the catcher for the team. I’m one of the pitchers. I guess Batavia Little League coaches didn’t like to split up a pitcher—catcher pair. It could be devastating, like separating twins or something.
“Hey, Marco? Did you get that new baseball video game?” Patrick asked.
I knew what he was talking about. The game was the latest, hottest on the market. “Yeah, I got it. It cost me a few weeks’ worth of allowance, but it was worth it, I think. It’s so real, it’s like being at an actual game. Get this, you can even make the players spit!”
“Oh yeah. It’s awesome,” I said. He threw the ball high, a simulated pop fly. I ran to get under it and caught it.
Had to close my eyes a second. My head hurt a little.
I nodded. “The graphics are wild. The players look so real, it’s like you’re really there. The ump calls balls and strikes. There’s an organ player charging up the crowd between pitches and after the top and bottom of each inning. Players grunt when they’re sliding into home. What can I say—it’s awesome.”
“That’s what I figured.” His eyes were wide and his tongue practically dangled from the corner of his mouth. I knew what he wanted.
“Wanna go play it?” I took in a deep breath, held it, and blew it out. Maybe I needed to rest. A video game would be easier than playing catch.
“Definitely. Let’s go.” He took off his mitt.
“Hey guys!” It was Jordan and Tyrone, two guys from Patrick’s and my sixth-grade class. They leaned on the chainlink fence set around the backyard. For the first time, Tyrone was on the same baseball team as Patrick and me. He usually played first or second base.
Jordan’s team was the coveted Joe’s Collision Shop. The owner, Joe, had shirts made with his cool car wreck logo on the back.
Sally’s House of Hair wound up sponsoring my team. Our logo was nothing fancier than a pair of scissors instead of a “Y” in the name Sally. Yuck! We made sure that when we talked about ourselves, we dropped the Sally. At least we didn’t have to wear something like pink jerseys.
But it wasn’t only the cool name and jerseys that made Joe’s team seem better—it was their batting and fielding stats. They were a solid team, year after year.
Patrick and I strolled to the fence and fist-bumped Jordan and Tyrone. I wanted to get inside, get on the couch, rest my head. It looked like the video game would have to wait. “What’s up?”
“Not much,” Tyrone said. “Jordan’s dad took us to the batting cages.”
I tried not to look at Tyrone like he was some kind of traitor for hanging out with Jordan the night before a big game. The last thing our team needed was Tyrone telling Jordan, the opposition, about our strengths and weaknesses.
Sure, he and Jordan were good friends. They always hung out. Maybe it wasn’t such a big deal. How could I blame Tyrone? I tried to look at it this way: at least he got in some batting practice. I mean, I liked going to the cages, too. Most ballplayers did. They were indoors so you didn’t have to be at it when it was cold or rainy. What’s not to like? “Cool,” I said. “How’d you guys do?”
Tyrone shrugged. “I did all right, but Jordan was killing the balls. He missed, like, only five out of fifty pitches!”
“Nice going.” I wasn’t really glad to hear this; the coach had me pitching tomorrow’s game, and now here was my teammate telling me about what a hot-hitter I’d be facing. But if Tyrone wasn’t telling us how well Jordan had done, Jordan would have been telling us himself.
“Don’t I know it!”
Sweat beaded on my forehead. Probably pre-game jitters. Too bad Jordan didn’t play on our team. We could always use another hard-hitter. But he didn’t. So now it became more important for us to win. If I didn’t strike Jordan out, he’d never let me live it down.