Gambling everything, including the family farm, Cullen McNamara travels to the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with his most recent invention. But the noise in the Fair's Machinery Palace makes it impossible to communicate with potential buyers. In an act of desperation, he hires Della Wentworth, a teacher of the deaf, to tutor him in the art of lip-reading. The young teacher is reluctant to participate, and Cullen has trouble keeping his mind on his lessons while intently watching her lips. Like the newly invented Ferris Wheel, he is caught in a whirl between his girl back home, his dreams as an inventor, and his unexpected attraction to his new tutor. Can he keep his feet on the ground, or will he be carried away?
I loved the history wound into this book. I visited the World's Fair in Vancouver in '86, but being only 6 years old I don't think I fully understood the meaning behind it. Deeanne Gist has done her research and provides glimpses of the grounds, the buildings, and the feelings of fair-goers from rural America who had never seen things like this before.
The book is long, but it gives you a chance to really appreciate things from both Cullen and Della's perspective. Sign language was frowned upon at the time, with the thinking being that it would set apart those who used it. And Cullen faces some major discrimination because he is losing his hearing. Della believes that using sign language is a hindrance to the deaf, this she teaches lip reading, but even her beliefs are challenged by her experiences.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book for a glimpse into a different time and a famous event in history.
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I received this book from LitFuse in exchange for my fair and honest review.