Recognition

Distinctions

  • Winner of the 2016 15 Bytes Book Award for Fiction
  • Awarded First Place For Fiction and Nonfiction by the Utah Arts Council
  • Nominated for the Reading the West Book Award by the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Association
  • Recommended for the Utah Book of the Year competition, sponsored by the Utah Humanities Council and the Salt Lake Libraries.
  • Jeri Parker profiled in Kirkus Reviews:
  • Jeri Parker - photo by Kent MilesJeri Parker knows how to maintain a sense of patience and wonder. When a bear wandered into her Idaho cabin one morning, for instance, she refused to panic, instead telling herself, “He’ll only be here once, so take it in.” She observed the bear instead of chasing it away—it eventually departed peacefully—and now cherishes the memory.Read more online or download .pdf version.
  • KUER, RadioWest with Doug Fabrizio (9/19/12)Doug is joined by Utah author Jeri Parker for a conversation about her memoir A Thousand Voices (available online).
  • UPR, Utah Public Radio’s Access Utah (8/17/12)Jeri Parker joins Tom Williams for the hour on Thursday’s AU (available online).
  • KCPW: CityViews (12/1/11)A teacher in Ogden finds a deep connection with a wild and rebellious student, the backdrop of a new memoir by local author Jeri Parker (available online in Segment 2).

 

Praise for A THOUSAND VOICES

Kirkus Reviews, Interview and Profile (03/20/14):

Jeri Parker knows how to maintain a sense of patience and wonder. When a bear wandered into her Idaho cabin one morning, for instance, she refused to panic, instead telling herself, “He’ll only be here once, so take it in.” She observed the bear instead of chasing it away—it eventually departed peacefully—and now cherishes the memory.

Read more online or download .pdf version

BlueInk Review (Reviewer’s Choice: July, 2013;
named one of the best books of 2013):

This poignant memoir by a former Utah schoolteacher, about the wild, magnetic, deaf child who became crucial to her life, tugs the heartstrings and reveals the tangled emotional needs of both characters. It unfolds in two kinds of original language: the boy’s impaired, yet poetic speech and the writer’s yearning, bittersweet recollections.

Read full review below

Midwest Book Review (June, 2013, Highly Recommended):

Life can be short and fleeting, and take place in many pictures. A Thousand Voices is a memoir from Jeri Parker, telling the unique story of Carlos Louis Salazar, a boy turned man who faced a rough life throughout his entire life, without any true break from the endeavor. From young boy to a life of crime to the crushing plight of kidney failure, Parker shares what is ultimately a very human story. A Thousand Voices is a solid addition to memoir and biography collections, highly recommended.

Kirkus Reviews (12/15/11):

With her rich, poetic prose that skillfully articulates nuanced emotions and thoughts, Parker does full justice to her friend’s memory. Her book transcends the ubiquitous “me” and “I” of memoir and hovers on . . . being a compassionate cautionary tale: love as well as you can, look beyond the surface, appreciate your gifts and others’, listen and learn.

Read full review below

Deseret News: (11/26/11):

Jeri Parker’s poignant memoir . . . speaks to all of us about the limitless nature of compassion and of the power of the human voice and spirit.

Read full review below

Inkslinger (Holiday Edition 2011)

It is the unspoken language in this memoir that burrows into your heart and stays there forever. Jeri’s devotion to Carlos and his affection in return will resonate with you long after you have finished reading . . . this incredible memoir.

Read full review below

 

What People Are Saying

When people talk about a book touching them and keeping them reading through the night, they have this kind of story in mind.  A Thousand Voices shines with one of those life-shifting experiences (perhaps something we wish for ourselves). A young teacher meets a wild boy and in that sudden knowing of another person, both their lives change—such a human story.

— Lynne Rossetto Kasperradio personality and author of The Splendid Table and The Italian Country Table

The author’s observations and language were so beautiful that not only Carlos but the forested woods came to life for me. As a musician, I find the whole idea of how sounds are learned fascinating.

— Janis Ian, Singer and Songwriter

The compassion, love and joy of the author in sharing her story is compelling. Do not miss this wonderful journey.

— Tim MerrimanThe Leopard Tree

In language both poetic and precise, Jeri Parker has voiced a story that is honest and heartbreaking and beautiful, but ultimately, a tribute to the triumphant power of love.

— Mark SpraggWhere Rivers Change DirectionsAn Unfinished LifeBone Fire

Jeri Parker’s A Thousand Voices commands a range of vivid emotions, described in evocative detail.  The colors come from her painter’s palette, almost a kind of pointillism, the hues coalescing to form the pictures she creates.

— William MulderHomeward to Zion

There is no substitute for intelligence. It is in every one of these pages.

— Francine Timothy, Recipient, Légion d’honneur

 

Reviews

Oh, how I love Carlos! And how I love this book! I kept putting off reading the last two chapters because I didn’t want it to end.

A Thousand Voices is a love story about language. It’s never sentimental, but it’s so pure, so tender. It’s a book that changes people’s lives.

— Alice Peck

A really perfect book for the summer. I recently read it again and it is so marvelous.

Do yourself a huge favor and read this lovely book this summer!!

— Mark Rennie

Parker’s memoir is a celebration of life and language. Real, raw, tender, triumphant. A story to savor.

She is in awe of the little deaf boy’s creative capacity for language, but I came away impressed that only one similarly gifted could recognize his gift and share his story so vividly. Rarely do we see such insight into this most complex of human behaviors–and see it captured so concisely.

Above all, we come to know a boy and others in his life who remind us just how rich life can be, even against all odds!

— Kirk Belnap

I finished A Thousand Voices last night. What an extraordinary book. In a number of ways. Jeri Parker makes you a part of the experience, painfully so, and after the sadness, beautifully so. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

— Judith Lile-Hynes

Jeri Parker has achieved something very complex in A Thousand Voices it seems to me: she has created Carlos as a person of highs, that is, a person with so many exceptional qualities, so many stunning lights, that even the many terrible things he endures don’t overpower the glow.

And at the same time, she explores vast depths, excavating more and more pieces of her total experience and growing wisdom, with the result that the book causes our understanding to evolve right to the last page, not primarily because of the events that happen but because of the insight that flows forth.

— Elouise Bell

This gracefully written memoir of the powerful thirty year relationship between the author and her deaf student Carlos is unforgettable. The book is by turns funny and heart-breaking, exhilarating and contemplative, but always compelling as the reader witnesses the meeting of two souls somehow destined to find each other. . . . Highly recommended and expect to finish it in tears!

— Teresa Cavanaugh

A Thousand Voices is at once sad, beautiful, profound… an extraordinary story with extraordinary characters. Parker’s poetic style is the perfect voice to tell Carlos’ poignant tale. Hours after the last page, Parker’s words and images of Carlos lingered in my heart. A must read for anyone!

— Karen Anne Coccioli

I thought a memoir would be slow and sentimental to read. A Thousand Voices was anything but! The boy Carlos, a little hell-raiser when he was young, made me think what it would be like to be deaf. He learns to talk and he’s very funny. When he’s mad at his teacher, who wrote the book, he draws this hilarious picture of a hawk scolding her chick and writes under it, Wow, very POW!

That would be a good way to say how the book affected me. I liked reading it and I recommend it.

— Brett Tomazin

A Thousand Voices: a memoir stays in the forefront of my mind because of its honesty. There is a raw and real quality to it along with the honesty… and maybe it is the combination of these ingredients that makes you examine your own life as you read. The integrity in the book does take you to a place of honesty within yourself. If you’re trying to work something out in your head and you’re reading A Thousand Voices, you can’t hide from bringing the same honesty to your own life.

The little deaf boy in the story also made me aware of minorities and the disadvantaged and the struggles they have that I hadn’t thought about. It made me want to get outside my own world and reach out to these groups.

Dr. Parker has written a sensitive and reflective story about Carlos and his amazing and selfless teacher (who is Dr. Jeri Parker) who becomes his friend and stands beside him in his difficulties throughout his life. Have you ever thought about what it would feel like as a little child (and even as an adult) going to sleep in the dark and never being able to hear… anything? As you read it, you want to do more with yourself because of what she did. The story will make a change in you, and it’s nice as you read it because you don’t ever think that’s what she set out to do.

— Monica Ludlow

Memoirs rarely fall into the category of adventure. This one, a compelling page turner, definitely does. I found myself skipping lunch and whatever else I could just to find out what happens. The author takes us on one adventure after another, making it agonizingly difficult to put the book down. I lost myself in the pages my reading transcending time.

This is a brilliant memoir about Carlos but it’s also a memoir about a relationship and we all know that no one is in a relationship alone. Knowing the author is inevitable – and a treat as we learn about Parker and her enormous heart. For years, she gives so much of herself to Carlos, that readers’ consciences will be challenged to examine their own lives . Furthermore, the backdrop of cultural/social issues such as low-income, single parents, ethnic minorities and disabilities serve to heighten the reader’s awareness and possible self-soul searching.

Several questions are addressed by the book such as: Just what is it that gives life meaning? When is giving time, care and even love, not a sacrifice? There is much more to ponder and in part, this is what makes this such a rich book.

For me, the elegance of the book was in Parker’s masterful and artistic prose style. I hung on every word and yet never lost the flow of the story. What an accomplishment that is for a writer! I also loved the structure with the first chapter telling about the end of a life and then going back in time. Of course this is not a unique approach but in this case we’re so eloquently reminded that death ends a life but never a relationship. Also the chapters are defined by titles bearing Carlos’ own words. It made me want to read and find out when and how those words were spoken.

The story of A Thousand Voices will remain with me forever. It is on my list of top books and will forever remain as a cherished part of my library. This I will tell my friends.

— Barbara Wheeler

A Thousand Voices gives voice to the inner connection between a deaf boy and his teacher. The relationship between them let me see how powerful it is to hear and be heard, to really take in life being shared.

The bridge of understanding between Jeri and Carlos spans the differences in their ages, their culture, their economic and social hierarchy, their gender, their education. Yet the complexities of the relationship are not glossed over. It was as complicated for her to listen as it was for him, for her to be secure as for him to be needy, for her to be a young woman as for him to be a young boy, for her to be Anglo-American as for him to be Spanish-American. The complexities went both ways and are seen honestly as well as gently.

— Sue Click

As I began reading A Thousand Voices, I could not stop turning the pages.  I am in my thirty-fourth year as Speech-Language Pathologist, where language and children have been my passion.  It will be a great pleasure to share A Thousand Voices with my cohorts!  Amazing!!!

— Dru Weggeland Clark

What I love in a book is that first, it grabs my attention right off, I don’t have to work to get into the story. The journey taken by this teacher and the deaf boy establishes such a tie to get a 10 on that.

The second thing I love in a book is when the characters are real to me. I knew the characters in this book, but I didn’t know them as well as I thought I knew them.

The third thing I love in this book is that the values in it match up to those in my own heart.

A fourth thing I love in a book is when it makes me want to have increased energy in the days I have left to live my life, to really invest in what days I have left, and to be less selfish and less mundane in that life.  A Thousand Voices woke me up.

— Jeanne Roth

Full Reviews

Kirkus (12/15/11):

As a young teacher, Parker is introduced to a deaf child who immediately captures her heart; they communicate with each other beyond a standard language system and forge a friendship that lasts a lifetime.

Parker first met 10-year-old Carlos Louis Salazar at the Utah School for the Deaf in 1964. Deaf since infancy, Salazar charmed the 24-year-old high school teacher with his mischievousness and unique brand of communicating. In addition to signing, he learned at school the complexities of speech and how tongue, teeth and breath affect sounds. He manipulated these tools, virtually re-creating language, to suit his individuality as he connected with others. What some heard as broken speech, incorrect grammar or poor communication skills, Parker perceived as creativity bordering on brilliance. They developed a mother-son relationship grounded in unconditional love that saw them through Salazar’s reckless adolescence, illness and premature death. His brief life forever changed Parker’s notion of language as a limited construct. With her rich, poetic prose that skillfully articulates nuanced emotions and thoughts, Parker does full justice to her friend’s memory. Her book transcends the ubiquitous “me” and “I” of memoir and hovers on the brink of being a compassionate cautionary tale: love as well as you can, look beyond the surface, appreciate your gifts and others’, listen and learn. Though the first chapter opens with Salazar’s death, the author doesn’t dwell on the loss. Instead, she focuses on Salazar’s singular character, his triumphs and missteps and his effect on others. Like a parent, she sometimes overpraises achievements that others might consider ordinary, yet she never excuses his forays into drugs and crime. What broadens Parker’s story from exclusively intimate to universally relatable are her numerous examples of the many ways to communicate: the doctor who limited interactions with Salazar to cold, scientific jargon; the bristly nurse who ruffled her patient’s hair to express affection. Neither resolving nor overly theorizing her experiences, Parker allows readers to glean what they will from her heartfelt story.

A loving tribute to friendship that proves how one person can influence the life of another.

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BlueInk (Reviewer’s Choice: July, 2013):

This poignant memoir by a former Utah schoolteacher, about the wild, magnetic, deaf child who became crucial to her life, tugs the heartstrings and reveals the tangled emotional needs of both characters. It unfolds in two kinds of original language: the boy’s impaired, yet poetic speech and the writer’s yearning, bittersweet recollections.

In 1964, Jeri Parker met a poor Mexican-American kid named Carlos Louis Salazar in Ogden, Utah. “I more or less stole him,” she writes. “He was the son I wanted, and I did get him for a while.” Parker was 24, Carlos 10 when he began spending more time with the author than at his impoverished home. “He was more otherworldly than childlike,” she exults, “. . . Peter Pan on a string, whipped skyward.”

Their on-off relationship endured for two decades, through Carlos’s brilliant, playful, sometimes troubled school years, his later bouts with violence, drugs and early fatherhood, and into his final days in a hospital bed, where he lay dying from kidney failure.

The beautifully designed book is illustrated with Carlos’s heartbreaking childhood drawings (an overstuffed school bus, a mother eagle glaring past her baby) and animated by the deaf boy’s desperate insights. “Throw me away,” the lonely, maladjusted boy once pled. Thanks to Parker’s keen memory and devotion, he comes off as a truly tragic figure.

One major reservation: while the author celebrates “the lighthouse within” the doomed boy, she’s not candid about herself. Vague boyfriends come and go. What must have been an odd relationship with Carlos’s struggling biological mother remains murky. And Parker is evasive about the root of her Carlos-obsession: on page 18, she hints at “losing” a son of her own (infant death? miscarriage? abortion?), then drops the subject; later, she calls herself “a parody of a mother” but says no more.

Still, this extraordinary memoir makes for compulsive reading, and Parker’s vow to always remember “my dark-eyed boy” and to “take care of his spirit” will move the stoniest heart.

Also available as an ebook.

Author’s Current Residence
Salt Lake City, Utah

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Deseret News: (11/26/11):

The thought of complete, endless silence would frighten many of us. It would mean isolation from the world around us and being denied that simple connection with other human beings — a connection that helps us to understand and to grow.

In Jeri Parker’s poignant memoir, “A Thousand Voices,” the reader is introduced to a young 10-year-old boy, Carlos Louis Salazar, for whom silence has been a daily reality since birth.

Having been an educator among high school and university students for many years, Parker undoubtedly had many unique experiences in working with young people. But it was that moment in 1965 when she met Carlos at the Utah School for the Deaf in Ogden that motivated her to capture this experience in a beautifully moving way.

Carlos is, at first, as Parker poetically describes him, “more otherworldly than childlike.” Carlos “wore his beauty like a gift to the world, but occasionally — and regularly when adolescence went through him like a fire — he ripped at it with something like disdain.”

But Carlos is not portrayed as a typical “hero” who triumphs over his disability and always does great things. There is a difficult side road that marks his life. This young boy turns into a rebellious teenager, who fathers a child out of wedlock and then dabbles in violence and drugs.

These aspects are one of the reasons why this book would not be appropriate for all ages or individuals. But Parker handles the material appropriately, and there is a lesson to be learned from this glimpse inside Carlos’ life.

That lesson speaks to all of us about the limitless nature of compassion and of the power of the human voice and spirit.

It may also be difficult for some readers to understand the instant bond that seemed to form between Carlos and Parker and the relationship that followed. It’s very reminiscent of a Helen Keller/Annie Sullivan situation in that even though Carlos was not dependent upon Parker intellectually to sign and translate, there was most certainly an emotional dependence. Together, they filled a void in each other.

Parker has won prizes for her writing from the Utah Arts Council. Other publications by Parker include “Uneasy Survivors: Five Women Writers” and various poems and short stories in literary reviews. She is also an accomplished artist, and her work is part of many public and private collections.

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Inkslinger (Holiday Edition 2011)

What can you do when a young person enters your life and changes your outlook so profoundly you never see anything the same way again? Fortunately for us, Jeri Parker decided to write about Carlos Louis Salazar whom she met in 1964 when he was 10 and she was a young high school teacher. Unable to hear since birth, Carlos was attending the Utah School for the Deaf when Jeri became, first his teacher, and later his second mother. Carlos and his family were desperately poor, living hand-to-mouth in Ogden, Utah. Carlos could communicate very well with his hands and his facial expressions and as time went on he did learn to speak thanks to Jeri’s and other teacher’s efforts. It’s the unspoken language in this memoir that burrows into your heart and stays there however.

Jeri’s devotion to Carlos and his affection in return will resonate with you long after you have finished reading.

— Anne Holman

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