Tuesday, July 2, 2002

Listening With My Heart by Heather Whitestone

Doubleday, 0385488998, $10.00

Note: this is a reprint of an older review, written in 1998.

Having Heather Whitestone as our first hearing impaired Miss America, one would think, should have been true inspiration for this nation's legion of children with disabilities. Whitestone's memoir, Listening With My Heart, shares these triumphs, but reveals also the stark realities this tiara holds. Anyone who thinks this title nothing more than non-stop glamour and make-up will be pleasantly surprised to learn of the more intense layers underneath.

Despite the joys and benefits of being America's sweetheart, and despite the impact Whitestone left following her year-long reign, there was an equal amount of heartache and frustration, and while reading Listening I found that just because one cannot hear the activity around her, it doesn't make the pain less hurtful. In Listening, Whitestone details her duties and the ensuing exhaustion, all the while keeping a cheerful front so as not to disappoint anyone in her path.

Her positive disposition, as felt throughout Listening, is credited to Whitestone's solid faith in God. Whitestone's love of God carries her throughout her career and is strongly felt in this memoir; she peppers each chapter with encouraging quotes from many known people and from the Bible. For all the uphill struggles she tackled (including living her Christian beliefs in a society that does not necessarily embrace the same values), Whitestone's enthusiasm is contagious, and her life-in-progress an inspiration.

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