Patricia Averbach’s initial intention was a short story. A London-based editor and publisher, Adelle Ward, read her short story at an online writer’s forum and told Averbach she believed it was the start to a novel. And Ward was right. That story would become “Painting Bridges,” Averbach’s debut novel.
Averbach, an award-wining poet, splits her time between Sarasota, Chautauqua, Ny. and Cleveland, Oh. She will talk about the writing process, give a reading and conduct a book signing of “Painting Bridges” at 6 p.m. Thursday, January 23 at Bookstore1Sarasota, 1359 Main Street.
The plot takes place in the late ’70s at a farmhouse in Western New York where Samantha, a woman who has recently lost her daughter and husband, is feeling the emotional distress. A 7-year-old deaf child, Tara, wanders onto her property. She’s the product of parents entangled in a custody battle. They build a special relationship, but you'll have to read the book to find out all the details.
Averbach thinks the connection to deaf children stems from her time in college. She worked as a speech pathologist for 20 years, but never directly with deaf children except during one rotation of her training when she spent time working at a deaf nursery.
"They really made an effort to teach all these children lip reading and oral speech,” she says. “As a student speech pathologist, I found it extremely frustrating.”
Trying to teach a child to talk and read lips when they can’t hear isn’t an easy task, especially with children who have no residual hearing.
“If you have a kid who can’t read lips, can’t speak and doesn’t know sign language, this child is so isolated and empty,” she says. “There’s no way to educate or communicate with them. They can’t form normal relationships and it’s very emotional and touching.”
She thinks her feelings during her training years stuck with her and they all came out in her novel. She’ll talk more about the experience and her 2.5-year-long writing process at the event. Call the bookstore at 365-7900 for more information.