It's the Chicago World's Fair in the 1890s...and Cullen is there trying to sell his invention: an automatic sprinkler system. His family is about to lose his farm so he's under tremendous pressure, but he's going deaf and add to that, he's in a noisy environment, and he can't make a single sale!
Enter Della, also at the fair teaching deaf children to lip read. When he seeks her help in learning himself, neither has any clue what this will lead to.
A revelation...and I LOVED THIS SO MUCH. This is how Della has been taught and thus, how she feels, "You must never, ever use sign language. It would brand you as deaf and different. It's critical that you blend in with everyone else."
This attitude, while not without its merits (as witnessed later in the book when a potential client refuses to do business with Cullen upon finding out he's going deaf...grrrr) is like saying deafness is something to be ashamed of and teaches the kids just that.. "I must hide it.."
Cullen and his story about how he one time communicated with a deaf man not only touched my heart, but I think began the slow roll of opening Della's eyes. That and his persistence, as well as her own issues in public with claustrophobia...just because she has a fear of confined spaces doesn't mean she belongs in the looney bit any more than a deaf person does... I loved watching Della change her attitude and thoughts and accept sign language. It was beautiful and made a huge impact on me, a deaf reader.
"The problem was, those who supported sign language accepted difference, while those who supported lip-reading sought equality. What she'd just begun to grasp was the deaf were not one for the other; they were both different and equal."
Romance... These two wonderful people fall in love and it's clean and wholesome. There's no sex, no hardening you-know-whats. Though it's not without its barriers. Cullen is engaged to a girl back home and Della has a severe mistrust of men, thanks to her father's warnings.
Humor... There's not shortage of cute, LOL moments.
"There was no point in trying to figure out a woman. There were illogical, inconsistent, confounded creatures, and Cullen didn't know why God thought He'd been doing Adam a favor."
Historical detail about the World's Fair. Very rich and very well done, this. As they tour the fair, readers tour with them. The author had a perfect balance of telling/showing and has her characters see and experience things, letting the readers, in turn, experience and see them as well.
Foul Play...Someone doesn't want Cullen succeeding.
Tragedy...There are fires and lives lost.
The lip-reading will be a huge eye-opener for those not familiar with it. Many people don't understand all that goes into, that it's not easy and not learned in a day and so many factors are involved. I appreciate the way the author handled this and slowly opened the door to another world for the non-lip-reading community.
"So much depended on whether the person was facing him, facing away, or looking to the side. Whether their lips were thick or thin. If they had a mustache, a beard, or both."
I loved both the heroine and the hero. He wasn't an alpha male aka douche bag. He was a good person and I was gripping my Kindle at times, just hoping so hard they would find happiness, that someone would buy his sprinkler...etc etc.
There was no sex. The book doesn't need it. I was never bored and appreciated the slow growth from teacher/student to more. And though this is labeled Christian Fiction, it never once preached at me. There was none of that "find God and everything just falls into place" stuff. It was just a really good story that didn't need cursing or sex.
Five bikes. I can't recommend it highly enough. Thank you, netgalley.