Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Watching Gideon

I recently finished the most amazing book: Watching Gideon. Set in the 1950s, Gideon is a 16 year old that doesn't have the ability to speak, and the only person that has ever bothered trying to understand him is his father, Jubal. He was born with a "lazy tongue." His mother even left them because she was so disgusted at her son's condition.

This novel begs the question: what about sign language? I can imagine that some small towns wouldn't even think of that for someone that wasn't deaf, but could not communicate. This book even made me do some research on "lazy tongue". In today's world it is not a diagnosis: if there is a strength problem the diagnosis is dysarthria, or if it is coordination, apraxia is the condition. In any case both conditions to be "cured" involve years of speech therapy. What is amazing is that Gideon is able to make himself understood to his father, and later in the novel to Abilene Breedlove, a woman from the wrong side of the tracks that hooks herself up with Jubal. They travel with Gideon from Mississippi to Utah to strike it rich in uranium. From the very beginning Gideon does not trust Abilene, but its not just because she's going after his father; she's also stirring up things inside of him that he has never felt before.

When they get to Edom, Abilene tries to keep on the straight and narrow but it isn't very long before Jack Savage, her handsome boss, works to get rid of Jubal--permanently. This was the kind of book that I could not put down until I was done. The author, Stephen H. Foreman, wrote for TV during the 1970s and 80s and has taught writing at various universities. I hope that he continues to write more books because this one was worth at least as much as Jubal's uranium claim.

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