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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Soaring Through Silent Skies: Deaf and Life ~ Sport and Success is a nonfiction sports memoir written by Brian Ehlers. Brian lived an ordinary life along with his older sisters, a life filled with play and adventure. He had no realization that his hearing was gradually getting fainter and fainter. His parents soon noticed that it took longer to get his attention and had his family doctor check him out. The prognosis seemed dire. At some point, he would be totally unable to hear. Further testing offered Brian and his parents two options: he could be part of the traditional sign-language program they offered, or they could see if participation in the relatively new hearing-aid program was a better fit for him instead. The fact that Brian had been hearing and speaking up until that point, and still had some hearing ability, seemed to make that the better option. The choice seemed perfect for the young child whose affinity for sports and activity was remarkable even at an early age. Basketball soon became a passion and had the young man considering a career in the sport, and swimming was always something the entire family enjoyed. Their membership in the Abalone Shore Club, a private beach on the coast, introduced him to another sport -- volleyball. It was still a relatively young sport, and, with the right training and abilities, there seemed to be no limits, even for a young man who played without the benefit of his hearing aid and worked entirely on instinct and skill.
Brian Ehlers’ Soaring Through Silent Skies is a well-written and engaging account that introduces the reader to both the intricacies of life as a deaf person and the challenges involved in training and excelling in a sport. His accounts of his experiences at the John Tracy Clinic and the importance of the decisions his family made for him at the time are fascinating reading. Ehlers’ descriptions of life in Southern California’s golden age bring the endless sands and waves surrounding their community to brilliant life. Volleyball, and how he became one of the world-class athletes in the sport, is of course the co-star of this inspiring book, and following his steps as he gained experience and skill is a highlight of this memoir. There are unforgettable characters popping up throughout this marvelous account, and there’s much to appreciate in every story the author shares. Soaring Through Silent Skies is most highly recommended.