In this powerful, affecting, and unflinching memoir, a daughter looks back on her unconventional childhood with deaf parents in rural Texas while trying to reconcile it to her present life—one in which her father is serving a twenty-year sentence in a maximum-security prison.
As a child, Kambri Crews wished that she’d been born deaf so that she, too, could fully belong to the tight-knit Deaf community that embraced her parents. Her beautiful mother was a saint who would swiftly correct anyone’s notion that deaf equaled dumb. Her handsome father, on the other hand, was more likely to be found hanging out with the sinners. Strong, gregarious, and hardworking, he managed to turn a wild plot of land into a family homestead complete with running water and electricity. To Kambri, he was Daniel Boone, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ben Franklin, and Elvis Presley all rolled into one.
But if Kambri’s dad was Superman, then the hearing world was his kryptonite. The isolation that accompanied his deafness unlocked a fierce temper—a rage that a teenage Kambri witnessed when he attacked her mother, and that culminated fourteen years later in his conviction for another violent crime.
With a smart mix of brutal honesty and blunt humor, Kambri Crews explores her complicated bond with her father—which begins with adoration, moves to fear, and finally arrives at understanding—as she tries to forge a new connection between them while he lives behind bars. Burn Down the Ground is a brilliant portrait of living in two worlds—one hearing, the other deaf; one under the laid-back Texas sun, the other within the energetic pulse of New York City; one mired in violence, the other rife with possibility—and heralds the arrival of a captivating new voice.
In her intensely readable memoir, Crews, who owns a PR company in New York City, paints a vivid portrait of an impoverished childhood in rural Texas with hearing-impaired parents, her father who's her hero turned monster. For the family, life is so hardscrabble that at one point they have to live in the shed once home to her horse. Despite many such moments, they love their pioneering Little House days without indoor plumbing or electricity. Crews even has her own Pa Ingalls, a craftsman father who rebuilds a bridge connecting their isolated hamlet to the outside world. "In my eyes, he was Daniel Boone, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ben Franklin, and Elvis Presley all rolled into one." But underneath her idyllic early years, as her extremely protective mother comes to reveal in pieces, her father has a ballooning dark side sparked by raging frustration and alcoholism. Arrests, womanizing, and a mysterious bruise on her mother's cheek set the harrowing stage for Crews's adolescence. When she is in high school, the escalating violence sets off a cataclysmic chain of events and her dad ends up in prison for attempted murder. Crews finds solace in a boyfriend, marries before she graduates, and plots her getaway from Texas and her fractured family. But she is left with conflicted memories of a man she once adored and came to fear. Finally, it's the lingering recollections of a loving father that Crews is able to hold onto.
Loved the story being told. I myself am deaf and do have a hearing son. This book makes alot of sense how most deaf people live. Mine wasn’t violet like the dad did but it’s normal same with hearing people. Good Job :-)
A humbling story
I'm so touched by this story it is a big reminder for me of a very violent past not quite as nice a father or mother but god how do we still love them and we hang on too that love, I've learned so much about feelings I've suppressed when you see and hear deadly violence my whole childhood and beyound. Especially about the deaf community, when kimbri asks her father what he he sees or something, we hear our voices when we are thinking and he answers her that he sees his hands that was profound. This was a great book!
This memoir was inspiring and educational. I was so interested at first to read the aspect of Kambri's view of being a child of parents with special needs (physical NOT cognitive needs.). This was so much more. The forced adulthood Kambri had to face at such a young age is inspiring. Wonderful memoir.