Cover image for Alandra's lilacs
Alandra's lilacs
Bowers, Tressa, 1949-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : Gallaudet University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
viii, 150 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Personal Subject:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ759.913 .B68 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
HQ759.913 .B68 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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When, in 1968, 19-year-old Tressa Bowers took her baby daughter to an expert on deaf children, he pronounced that Alandra was "stone deaf," she most likely would never be able to talk, and she probably would not get much of an education because of her communication limitations. Tressa refused to accept this stark assessment of Alandra's prospects. Instead, she began the arduous process of starting her daughter's education.

Economic need forced Tressa to move several times, and as a result, she and Alandra experienced a variety of learning environments: a pure oralist approach, which discouraged signing; Total Communication, in which the teachers spoke and signed simultaneously; a residential school for deaf children, where Signed English was employed; and a mainstream public school that relied upon interpreters. Changes at home added more demands, from Tressa's divorce to her remarriage, her long work hours, and the ongoing challenge of complete communication within their family. Through it all, Tressa and Alandra never lost sight of their love for each other, and their affection rippled through the entire family. Today, Tressa can triumphantly point to her confident, educated daughter and also speak with pride of her wonderful relationship with her deaf grandchildren. Alandra's Lilacs is a marvelous story about the resiliency and achievements of determined, loving people no matter what their circumstances might be.

Author Notes

Tressa Bowers lives and works in Euless, TX.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Here are two titles that characterize aspects of the deaf experience. In 1967, Bowers, a hearing teen, without a high-school diploma, bore a deaf child in a small Illinois town. Now a fulfilled grandmother, Bowers remembers the heart-wrenching educational decisions made during a troubled marriage. A two-year college degree, a responsible job, and a new husband helped her through cross-country moves and school changes for her beloved Alandra. Originally part of an oral parent/infant program and later a convert to sign, the motivated mother faced questions of local versus residential placement, lack of extended family acceptance, and needless medical misunderstandings. Writing from a different perspective, Wright describes how her hearing deteriorated over a period of two years, starting at the age of eight. The love of her close-knit farm family helped her adjust to the school for the deaf and blind that educated blacks only. Thoughtfully expressed experiences permeate this compelling book; Wright's social interactions are very interesting, although the school recollections are a bit repetitive. The lack of vocational advice given to Mary is somewhat surprising, but during World War II times were different. Both titles illuminate important issues for hearing and deaf audiences. --Nancy McCray

Publisher's Weekly Review

When her daughter (called "Landy") was five months old, Bowers began to suspect that her baby could not hear. Her fear was soon confirmed by an unsympathetic physician who told her that Landy was "stone deaf." Despite some awkward writing, Bowers honestly and successfully conveys the difficulties and joys of bringing up a deaf child and her determination to give Landy a good life. Unfortunately, educators for the deaf in the 1970s were still divided into traditionalists, who espoused oralism (teaching the deaf to speak) and forbade the use of sign language, and the emerging movement of those who advocated total communication. Relying on the advice of so-called experts, Bowers enrolled Landy in a strict oral program at the Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis. However, when the state stopped paying Landy's school fees, Bowers placed her daughter in a residential school where sign language was taught and its use encouraged. Eventually, she was able to negotiate a place for her daughter in a supportive public school nearby. By the time Landy became a teenager, she socialized almost entirely with other deaf teens. Though Bowers learned sign language, she has never become proficient in it and now feels that she and the rest of her family missed an opportunity to enter Landy's world more fully. It is nonetheless clear that she raised her daughter to be a sensitive and self-sufficient adult: Landy is now married to a deaf husband and is the mother of three healthy deaf children. This is an involving look at deaf culture and the alienation that can arise between the deaf and the hearing. B&w photos. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Bowers here recounts her experience as a hearing parent raising a deaf daughter and gives advice to other parents of deaf children. Don't dutifully do what the experts suggest, she implores. When she was a young parent, experts told her that the oral method offered the best hope for Alandra; as a result, even when this method had clearly failed her daughter, she continued to struggle with itÄthat is, until Alandra finally taught her otherwise. Bowers offers hope to parents just discovering that their child is deaf and gives them the questions to ask and the resources to pursue. Bowers's best advice? "Follow your heart and love your child." This engaging narrative provides good reading for anyone with an interest in the subject, whether serious or casual, and boldly takes on the oral vs. signing debate. A good addition to all public and academic collections.ÄKellyJo Houtz Griffin, Auburn, WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
1 Reconciliationp. 1
2 Homecomingp. 5
3 The Race Beginsp. 20
4 The Sounds of Silencep. 27
5 Total Communicationp. 38
6 Stuttering with My Handsp. 47
7 Home Signsp. 53
8 A Difficult Undertakingp. 61
9 Our "Normal" Lifep. 68
10 Half Hearing and Half Deaf?p. 77
11 Her Rightful Placep. 93
12 Our Too Cool Daughterp. 104
13 My Own Place in the Deaf Worldp. 116
14 Enter Chad ... and Tylerp. 123
15 I Finally Get to Hear Baby Talkp. 133
16 A Normal Pair of Boysp. 139
17 Smelling the Lilacsp. 148