A… My Name’s Amelia
At the age of twelve, Amelia Anne Polley, a victim of “brain fever,” lost her hearing. Her parents, unable to care for her, abandoned her at the Colorado Institute for the Education of Mutes in Colorado Springs and haven’t been in touch since. Now it’s 1880, and 18-year-old Amelia proudly works among the hearing world at the local newspaper office. One day Aaron Zachary buys a classified ad requesting a mail-order bride, and the handsome rancher piques Amelia’s interest. After a little creative scheming, Amelia answers the ad herself, and the strangers become husband and wife. Yet communication becomes a major barrier to their relationship, for not only can’t Amelia hear, but Aaron can neither read nor sign.
Sundell excels at creating frontier romances with unique situations and characters (her first, Matchmaker, Matchmaker, featured a female Jewish doctor). The plotting here is occasionally awkward – Aaron doesn’t discover Amelia’s hardship until after they’re married, which is a tad unbelievable – yet the novel is worth reading for its depictions of deaf culture in the 19th century West. Gracie, Amelia’s five-year-old ward from the Institute, is a particularly adorable character. A sweet romance about how the power of love can help two people overcome all other communication problems.