Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Novel About Hearing Loss by Michal Thal

A novel about hearing loss

Eighteen years ago, when I was 44 years old, I went to sleep with perfect hearing. When I awoke the next morning, I had suffered a severe hearing loss. Six years laterthe virus made my right ear deaf and my left not far behind. That is why I wrote Good-Bye Tchaikovsky. I wanted to explore the idea of losing my hearing as an adolescent.

After my hearing loss I was very angry and began yelling at my daughters. I was becoming a man I didn’t like. So instead of fighting my problem, I embraced it. I learned American Sign Language (ASL) took a lip reading class, and joined a self-help group (HLA-LA).

After my second hearing loss, understanding hearing people became almost impossible, so I resigned my sixth grade teaching assignment at John Muir Elementary School in Glendale, California, the site for my first novel, The Legend of Koolura. To write Good-Bye Tchaikovsky I created David Rothman, a Jewish violin prodigy who at the age of 12 lost his hearing. After many rewrites and revisions, Royal Fireworks Press accepted Good-ByeTchaikovsky for publication.

The novel shows how an adolescent boy, who had his future plotted out like a road map, copes with this silent disability. How will he communicate with his friends? What can he do about school? Where does his future lie? David Rothman’s success in the deaf world will provide inspiration for all teens to draw upon their inner strength. Like David, with the support of family and friends, they will find a place for themselves, and they can accomplish anything.

Children’s book reviewer Alice Berger says, “Finding yourself deaf, literally overnight, is a scary thing, and David’s response to his disability is understandable. It takes courage to accept what he can’t change, and he tries to make the best of a bad situation. Good-Bye Tchaikovsky is a touching portrayal of a boy who just wants to fit in, but finds himself pulled between the hearing and the deaf world. Ultimately, what he really needs to find is himself.”

Psychologist Valerie Stern says, “I very much enjoyed Goodbye Tchaikovsky. I thought the author paid particular attention to identifying all ambient noises that most people take for granted. In this sense, I think this book would be an eye opener for hearing people. I would recommend this book to any young adult or teenagers who are going through hearing loss as it shows there can be life after deaf!”

Like Ms. Berger and Dr. Stern, I hope you too enjoy Good-ByeTchaikovsky.


  1. Wow, Michal - That would have been a real tester! What a story and your book sounds awesome. I took a sign language class 100 years ago (and remember very little of it) but now I have a downs granddaughter and the plan is to teach it to her, so I have a TINY headstart! Congrats on your book!

  2. I enjoyed the post. My wife took care of a couple who were deaf when she was a teenager and learned sign language. It was quite interesting to see her speak with them.

  3. Hi Michal, what a great post. A few years ago, my hearing started to go, my doctor talked about hearing aids, but at the time it wasn't too it is. I never thought about learning sign language. Thanks for the idea. And good luck with your writing.

    1. Hi Mary,

      You know what it's like hanging out with a group of people. With hearing loss you have trouble following the conversation. In a classroom you have difficulty understanding what the teacher is saying. In the ASL classroom everyone is deaf because the class is conducted in sign and no one is permitted to chat with her mouth. Hands only.