But You Look So Normal: Lost and Found in a Hearing World

Pre-Order   Ships May 14, 2024

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$17.95  $16.69
She Writes Press
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About the Author

After earning master's degrees in archaeology and in public policy, and finally an MFA, Claudia Marseille developed a career in photography and painting, a profession compatible with a hearing loss. She ran a fine art portrait photography studio for fifteen years before becoming a full-time painter; her paintings are now represented by a gallery in Mill Valley, California. In her free time Claudia loves to read, watch movies, travel, spend time with friends, attend concerts and art exhibits, and play classical piano. Learn more about her art at www.claudiamarseille.com and more about her writing at www.claudiamarseilleauthor.com. She and her husband live in Oakland, California, and have one grown daughter.


"Marseille is a clear, expressive writer . . . this is an elegantly written memoir that raises awareness and will empower others."
--Kirkus Reviews

"But You Look So Normal is a triumphant, encouraging coming-of-age story for those who have faced the challenges of living with a disability and an eye-opening read for those who have not. It is a heart-rending story but also an account of fortitude and success."
--Readers' Favorite, 5 stars

"A clear-eyed look at the pervasive influence of hearing loss on almost every aspect of life. In her memoir, Claudia Marseille's creative zest for life triumphs over what some might consider a disability, and she candidly sets her struggles alongside the story of her relationship with European parents still living under the shadow of the Holocaust. A wonderful, poignant read!"
--Gael Hannan, advocate, author of The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss, and coauthor of Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss

"But You Look So Normal is a beautifully written, utterly honest memoir about the experience of growing up with a silent disability. It is a testament to resilience and the power of honesty, forgiveness, and self-discovery through human relationships and art. It is a must-read for clinicians and anyone afflicted by or interested in the experience of difference."
--Harriet Wolfe, MD, President of the International Psychoanalytical Association

"Marseille's memoir is a beautifully told, nostalgic portrayal of a 1950s childhood with a severe hearing loss. Born at a time when hearing aids were crude amplifiers, Claudia had to deal with loneliness at school, social gatherings, and professional demands. She finally learned to tell others about her hearing loss and find meaning in a loving marriage and a successful career as a painter. Hers is an evocative story of resilience, and her challenges will resonate with anyone who has experienced hearing loss."
--Katherine Bouton, president of the Hearing Loss Association of America, NYC Chapter, and author of Shouting Won't Help and Smart Hearing

"Claudia boldly shares with us a heartwarming story, unveiling the challenges of a significant and isolating disability and heartbreaking insights into complicated relationships. Her persistence to overcome these obstacles and 'fit in' help us grow to deeply appreciate her numerous natural talents, bravery, beauty, all within the threads of a grounded and humble woman--who may not fully appreciate her incredible brilliance."
--Jill Ellis, MEd, cofounder of Center for Early intervention on Deafness

"Marseille's skilled, down-to-earth, deeply moving, and bravely intimate storytelling is a captivating look at the profound lifelong impacts of growing up and finding one's way as an adult with a severe hearing loss in a hearing world. Yet, while hearing loss is central to her story, it is also about the many experiences that has created the tapestry of a life rich with complex relationships, passionate artistic talent and profound personal growth."
--Rachel Dash, Faculty Emeritus, West Virginia School of Medicine, Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry

"Marseille creates a vivid picture of what it meant to grow up with hearing loss--the complexities, the sadness, the frustrations. Marseille is special and so is her story. She traversed a world that wasn't built for her and in her journey she found her true, authentic self. This is a story you will want to hear for yourself."
--Susanna Storm, AuD, CCC-A, audiologist at Blue Sky Hearing

"A well-written and indispensable book about the author's journey from silence to sound. A must read for able-bodied people to learn about the trials of an invisible disability. This is a heroine's journey--learning to speak, navigating hearing loss, and cultivating other senses for artistic expression--and a testimony to the resilience of the human spirit."
--Theresa Silow, PhD, LPCC, Professor, The California Institute of Integral Studies

"In her eloquent story of shaping a life as a hearing-disabled person, Claudia Marseille awakens readers to the barriers and biases most of us fail to recognize or fully understand. Through her singular courage, tenacity, and self-discovery she gracefully illuminates the ways difference and determination can transform us all."
--Elizabeth Rosner, author of Survivor Café The Legacy of Trauma and the Labyrinth of Memory

"Claudia Marseille's memories are reported with vivid color and sight descriptions and muffled sound. This is a tale of medically induced hearing loss, lifelong learning, survival, love, music, and finally art."
--Maureen Fitzgerald, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, Certified American Sign Language Interpreter

"Claudia Marseille's beautifully rendered memoir doesn't stop at offering insights into the hearing disabled world. This well-crafted, tender tale begs us to consider the grave challenges faced by the disadvantaged, and how it is that such individuals defy great adversity and champion debilitating handicaps to achieve remarkable personal goals. Marseille's narrative is informative, stirring, and noteworthy."
--Julie Ryan McGue, author of Twice a Daughter: A Search for Identity, Family, and Belonging

"This well-crafted, intimately personal, and honest exploration of the author's truth is a revelatory experience for any reader, whether they are hard of hearing themselves, Deaf, or hearing. In this memoir, Claudia Marseille brings us with her on the lifelong journey of finding her place in the world of silence and sound."
--Ruth Dubin, MEd, CI/CT/SC: L, Nationally Certified American Sign Language Interpreter

"Claudia Marseille's memoir paints an evocative picture of her loneliness and perseverance through hiding her hearing loss during her early life. This is a must-read for new parents, grandparents, pediatricians, and anyone who works with children and young people to prevent such isolation."
--Mary E. McCall, PhD, developmental psychologist, consultant, and retired professor of psychology at Saint Mary's College of California

"Claudia Marseille illuminates the experience of living with severe hearing loss in her extraordinary and powerful memoir. With tremendous sensitivity and insight, she eloquently brings the reader into her world of growing up with a serious and invisible disability. My understanding of what it means to live with hearing loss was blown wide open. This needs to be required reading for those in education, healthcare and, simply put, everyone."
--Miriam Eisenhardt, MPH, RN, Assistant Professor, Samuel Merritt University

"A breathtaking tour de force! Claudia Marseille's heartbreaking memoir is a game-changer, opening new vistas on the world of the hard of hearing. Marseille's sincere narrative seamlessly navigates the gaps between her needs and her reality as she worked hard to create an admirable path forward to the life of her dreams and aspirations. I'm sure I won't be alone in being grateful that Marseille has shared this wonderful story!"
--Esther Erman, author of Rebecca of Salerno: A Novel of Rogue Crusaders, a Jewish Female Physician, and a Murder

"Claudia Marseille's memoir recounts her journey growing up with profound hearing loss, mainstreamed in the world of verbal communication. Marseille deftly weaves the realities of the ever-present communication challenges and the deep sense of isolation she so wanted to overcome. We learn just how impactful communication barriers can be. Most importantly, Marseille, a person with a communication disability, faced down these challenges and realized her desire to have a fulfilling life and engage as the socially outgoing woman she is."
--Robin E. Miller, disability rights attorney

"In her compelling story, Claudia paints in fine details the story of her life challenged by a severe hearing loss while also managing to live an adventurous and fulfilling life rich with her many talents in music, art and creativity."
--Ronnie Wilbur, PhD, Professor, Dept. of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at Purdue University

"Claudia's life would be dramatic even if she hadn't been born nearly deaf, but she was, and how she maneuvered with and around her 'disability' makes her account of her life all the more poignantly compelling."
--Noel Holston, author of Life After Deaf: My Misadventures in Hearing Loss and Recovery

"Marseille's memoir was the most authentic depiction I have ever read on this topic. It was so surprising to read about the similarities of our life experiences of hearing loss. Thank you for so beautifully articulating your experience and sharing it with the world."
--Sarah Shapero, MSW, behavior health counselor

"In this beautifully written memoir, Claudia really hits on the topic of isolation--very common among those with hearing loss. Her vivid descriptions of her colorful journey through complex family interactions, friends, and different professions are truly inspiring as she finally creates a happy and fulfilling life. Her strength and resilience shine throughout."
--Joy Holtzman Antar, MSW, former counselor at the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind/Mobile Regional Center

"A poignant memoir, rich with vivid details about the full impact of severe hearing loss on every aspect of daily life, and ultimately a story of resilience and triumph over adversity."
--Barbara Ridley, author of When It's Over