Burn Down the Ground: A Memoir

Burn Down the Ground: A Memoir

by Kambri Crews

Hardcover

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345516022
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/28/2012
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 5.82(w) x 8.56(h) x 1.01(d)

About the Author

Kambri Crews owns her own PR and production company specializing in comedy. A renowned storyteller and public speaker, she has appeared at the Moth, Upright Citizen’s Brigade, and SXSW Interactive. She splits her time between Astoria, Queens, and Cochecton, New York, with her husband, comedian Christian Finnegan.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

KINGPIN tugged on the belt loop of Mom’s skintight jeans,  and waited for her to look down and acknowledge me. I wanted money to play Space Invaders in the bowling alley arcade, but she was con- centrating on reading the lips of a balding  deaf man who had two hooks for hands. Despite having no fingers, he tried to communicate with  American  Sign Language (ASL), scraping the curved metal  claws  against  each other  as if he were giving a Ginsu knife demonstration.  My mother was an expert lip reader and kept her eyes focused on his mouth  to make sense of the flurried flashes of metal;  she bobbed her  head up and down to let him know that she understood.
I stared  at the  beige plastic   attachments   that  encased each wrist and  wondered  how  they  stayed  connected to  his  fleshy stubs. Did he take them off at night?  Were they suction  cups or drilled into his arms? I shuddered  at the thought  and watched how he made the hooks  open and close.
Was  he born  that way or did he have an accident? After  con- templating both scenarios, I decided it would  be better if he were born without  hands. That  way he wouldn’t know the difference. I couldn’t imagine  that the world  would  be so cruel as to take the hands  of a grown  deaf man.
As I stared  at his signing, his hooks brushed perilously  close to my  face, causing  me to reel  back in fear. I had a brief  horrify- ing image of running for my life being chased by him, with his grunts and wheezing  breath hot on my neck. But Mom, who made fast friends with everyone she met, was perfectly at ease.
I yanked harder  and smacked her round  bottom. “MAAAA- MMMMAA!!!”
“What?” Mom signed by waving her hand with the palm side up, exasperated at my persistence. “Can’t you  see I’m talking?”
“Need quarter,” I signed  back.
Mom could partially  hear when she wore powerful  hearing aids—one of which was always on the fritz, in need of a battery or screeching like brakes crying  for new pads—but  they were useless in the din of crashing bowling pins. For all practical purposes, she was as deaf as every other grown-up  gathered in the dingy Tulsa bowling alley smelling  of fried food, cigarettes, and beer. They  had traveled here from  all parts of the country  to com- pete  in  the  1978 National  Deaf  Bowling Tournament,  where Mom was  scheduled  to  defend  her title as  women’s  singles champion.
This  event was the type of activity the Deaf community  cre- ated so that members could mingle.  In the days before the Inter- net and mobile  gadgets, the best way for the Deaf to socialize was old-fashioned  face-to-face   time through  clubs, travel groups, cruises, and sporting   events like fishing and bowling  tourna- ments. While some  fathers  may have gravitated toward fishing and hunting, mine liked bowling because he could smoke, drink, and carouse between rounds.   Mom liked it because  she was damned  good, with a  164 average. Usually her winnings were enough  to pay for our trips with  a little profit  to boot.
The National Deaf Bowling Association was founded in 1964, but the women’s singles had only been around for four  years and Mom  was already a force to be reckoned with.  She loved to brag about how she was knocking  down pins while  knocked up with me.   She’d bowled three days prior to my birth and was back in the alley three days later.
The wooden lanes and alley lights may as well  have been the stage and footlights  of Broadway. She was a star  and I was proud to say she was my mother.
Mom  answered my plea for a quarter by pantomiming  empty front  pockets and signing, “I’m out. Go ask your daddy.”
Without hesitation, I turned  on my heels and skipped to the bowling  alley lounge, where I found my father leaning against the pool table holding  court among a small  gathering of onlookers. He held  a cold can of Coors Light and  a lit Kool in one hand and was signing with his free hand.
“Two deaf people get married. The first week of living together they find it hard to talk  in the bedroom after they turn off the lights.”
I caught Dad’s eye and  he  gave me  a quick wink as he gave the ASL sign for “wait”  by wiggling  his slim fingers palm side up, revealing the calluses  from his years  as  a construction worker. Unlike my mother,  Dad didn’t speak  at all other  than  an occa- sional shout of a name  or profanity  aimed at  a Dallas Cowboys game. When  he did, his voice came out  in an oddly high  pitch with  too much air behind it. He couldn’t read lips as well as Mom and didn’t move his mouth much when he signed.
I let him finish the joke that he didn’t bother censoring,  even though I was nearby. I had watched him tell it at least  a dozen times. As he signed, the ash on his cigarette grew longer.
“After  several nights of misunderstandings,  the wife comes up with a solution. ‘Honey, we need simple signals in the bed- room at night. If you want to have sex, just reach over and squeeze my breast  once; and if you don’t  want  to  have sex, squeeze it twice.’
“The husband replies, ‘Great idea. If you want to have sex, pull my dick once. If you don’t want to have sex, pull it a hundred and
fifty times.’ ”
His audience erupted into  a variety of loud grunts  and squeals of laughter. One waved his hands, while another signed ASL let- ters, “H-A-H-A-H-A.” Dad chuckled  at himself with  a slight curl of his upper lip, making a dimple appear in his right cheek. He took   a drag  of his cigarette and the  long,  crooked  ash finally broke  off, landing  on the  worn, booze-stained   carpet.  A few flakes floated onto his dark blue jeans and he sent them flying with one forceful  burst of breath. He inspected his appearance and brushed  off the remaining  ashes before he asked, “What’s wrong?”
I signed back,  “Need money.”
“Okay, but don’t waste,” he warned before making  a big  pro- duction out of retrieving his wallet and fishing through its con- tents.  I’d   always thought  of my father  like a  deaf   Elvis.  Tall, muscular,   and handsome  with dark  hair combed  back  into a modern  pompadour, he could charm the skin off a snake.   His friends were  caught in his magnetic spell and kept  their eyes trained on our exchange. Dad seized the opportunity to remain in  the  spotlight.   He  grabbed  my shoulder   and whisked  me around to face his fans.
“Do you know my daughter? Her name K-A-M-B-R-I.” In ASL, it is customary  to introduce someone by first spelling  out the name letter by letter followed up with a shorthand sign, a “Name Sign,” to refer  to that person.  A person’s Name Sign often uses the first letter of their name in ASL incorporated with the sign that indicates  a physical  or personal characteristic, such as a big smile or a goatee or,  in my  case, my temperament as a baby.
Dad signed  each letter slowly so they had time  to soak in my unusual  name. He then  drew  a tear on each of his cheeks using the middle finger of the ASL letter “K” to show them the sign  he and Mom  had created for me.
“Why tears with a ‘K’? Because  when  she  was  a baby she never cried. No. Never. Always laugh, laugh, laugh.”
He patted my head and smiled. I looked back at the adult faces staring   at me and  forced  my lips into a  smile—not  quite the hyena Dad was describing—as  I waited for the money. As was always the case when  I was introduced  to deaf people, the first question was, “Hearing?”
Dad signed, “Yes, hearing.”
I sensed   a twinge   of disappointment in their expressions, a typical reaction when deaf friends  learned I wasn’t one of them. I understand it now,  but  as a seven-year-old  kid I found myself wishing I had been born  deaf, too. Then I would belong to the tight-knit Deaf community   instead  of being  just an honorary member.
“Very  smart,”   Dad   bragged.    “Good girl.  Nickname  ‘Motor
Mouth.’ ”
You know you talk a lot when  your  deaf family nicknames you Motor Mouth.
Dad passed me a crisp  bill, and my eyes widened when I saw it was  a five. Five bucks  would  get me an icy Dr Pepper, greasy crinkle fries, and plenty of games in the arcade.
“Share with your brother,” he signed with a warning raise of his brow.
David  could fend  for himself. Besides, I reasoned, he was three   and  a half years  older  than  me and better at most  video games. One quarter lasted him a  hell of a long  time;   surely he didn’t need any more money. After  a quick thank-you  to Dad and a half-assed  wave to his friends, I left the dark, smoky  hideaway and headed straight for the snack bar.
In the game room,  I found David dominating Space Invaders, as usual. He swayed and ducked, jerked  the joystick,  and repeat- edly  bashed the  fire button   as  a crowd  of admiring onlookers grew around him. He must have been within reach of the ma- chine’s high  score, a feat I’d witnessed him achieve once before.
“Totally rad!” a kid shouted,  giving  David  a slap on the back.
 
“Yeah, totally!”  said another with a  high-five. My brother   ac- cepted the  accolades from his minions, who always flitted  be- hind him, with  a smug smirk.
“That was so neat, man!”
A freckle-faced kid challenged,   “Yeah, but can you reach the end?”
“Video games  don’t end,” another kid stated with  certainty. “Oh yeah?  Well then how far does it go?”
We  weren’t  totally  sure. Each  round became  progressively harder so it was difficult  imagining a game  lasting forever. But if you were winning, why would a game  just quit? David seemed in line  to be our exploratory leader, a twentieth-century Christopher Columbus.
I smacked  down  a quarter  on the glass screen with a  crack, claiming my place as the next player in line, and waited for him to lose.
“Go away,” he demanded. “You’re gonna fuck  me up.”
David was skinnier than  a dried stick  of spaghetti and, at ten years old, already as tall as many adults. Like me, his hair was as white  as hotel sheets with skin browned from frolicking  every day in the blazing South Texas heat without a drop of sunscreen. David returned  to concentrating on his game, so I ignored his command and lingered  long enough to see him lose  a turn.
“See!”  he yelled  as he gave a quick  jab to my arm.  “Look at what  you  made me do!”
I yelped in pain and poked the lump  where he had knuckle- punched me.
“I told  you  to go away,” he hissed. “Stop watching  me.”
The End was apparently not in sight  as long as I was present. David’s cronies  sneered at me. I was jeopardizing my brother’s attempt at immortality, so I retreated to the Pong machine. When I ran out of quarters, I sprinted   back to the lanes,  where  the hook-handed man was stepping up to bowl. He had replaced his right hook with a special  contraption   that  gripped  his bowling ball. As he charged down the alley, he used his left hook to whack some lever or button that sent his ball barreling  toward the pins. I had no idea how many he knocked down or if his aim was any good. Did it matter? A deaf man with  hooks for hands was bowling.
When  the bowling was finished, my parents’ night  was just getting warmed up. Every night  out to a  Deaf event ended the same  way. My mom  and dad stood  gathered in a circle   of deaf family  and friends  for what seemed like an eternity while  I did absolutely nothing,  waiting  impatiently  to go home. Drink after drink crossed the bar—more Coors Light for Dad, Seven & Sev- ens for Mom—as  Deaf community  gossip  was dished with a
flurry of hands.
Unlike other kids absorbing  adult chatter, my “listening in” required   eyes and dedicated attention.   I was tired  and desper- ately wanted to go, but  getting  a deaf person  to leave any social engagement was harder  than eating spaghetti  with  a knife.
Hoping my parents would notice, I made  a dramatic produc- tion of pushing  together three plastic chairs to serve as a make- shift bed. I draped  Dad’s denim  blazer over me and waited for them  to call it a  night. I almost  wanted to walk  up to the alley manager and tell him to flick the lights on and off, the best way of telling a group  of deaf people it was closing time. Although I was  too big  to be carried  around  like a baby,  when   my father roused me, I pretended to be fast asleep. He scooped me up and carried me to the car. I buried my face in his neck and breathed in his trademark  scent of Jovan Musk and beer and nicotine.  My parents,  never extravagant with  accommodations,  unloaded us at a roadside  motel  for the night.
The next  afternoon,  a local news reporter arrived at the bowl- ing alley to cover the final day of the tournament,  creating a buzz. A slim strawberry  blonde, my mother  was easy on the eyes. For the first few years of her life, she could hear without  the help of hearing aids. This meant she could speak more clearly than most of her hearing-impaired peers, making her the unofficial ambas- sador to the hearing world. Naturally,  the reporter chose to inter- view her.
Mom was scheduled to close the annual  ceremony by per- forming  several songs in ASL, accompanied  by a live  band. More thrillingly, however, the concert was going to be shown on televi- sion.
There weren’t many occasions for Mom  to get gussied  up, so when the opportunity  presented itself she went full glitz. Seeing her  leave the motel  room  dressed  in three-inch  heels and a shiny, short-sleeved maroon wrap dress  that clung to her tan skin and showcased her enormous  breasts, you’d have thought  she was headed to New York’s Studio 54 instead of a run-down bowling alley. At thirty-one, she was in the prime of her life and the center of attention. She loved every minute  of it.
The reporter chatted with my mother, who was standing near the  band, two guitarists and  a drummer,  who were setting  up their instruments at the far end of the establishment.  The cam- eraman turned on the bright  spotlight  and with a quick   toss of her  head and flash of a smile,  Mom was “on.” Before the reporter could  even  ask a  question,  Mom declared,   “We are   deaf  not dumb.”
To this day, the phrase “deaf and dumb” is the most offensive insult to a deaf person.   Mom   wanted to make  it clear that just because a person   couldn’t hear didn’t mean they lacked intelli- gence.
I stood  directly  behind  the  cameraman and admired  how proudly she stood,  with both shoulders   back. Even now, as a woman in her sixties, she carries herself with the same poise and grace at a backyard barbecue as at a wedding.  She  gestured  to a table of merchandise  like a TV game show model presenting an item up for bid. The table had items  available for purchase, as- sorted T-shirts and handcrafted buttons proclaiming, “Deaf and dumb  SMART.”  They rested  alongside  an  abundance of cro- cheted knickknacks, jewelry, and assorted keepsakes decorated with hands in the shape of the ASL sign for “I love  you.”
The reporter  nodded politely.  “You are  performing a  concert tonight. How can deaf people enjoy  music?”
“Even though  we can’t hear,  we can feel  the  vibration.” She simultaneously  signed as she spoke. “We dance  to the  beat of  our own drummer.” She flashed a wide  smile that revealed two rows of straight, white teeth, perfect except for  a chip  in the front from a childhood  spill on  a tricycle.
“Deaf people  enjoy   music. They just don’t  hear  the  lyrics,” Mom  explained. That’s where  she  came in.
My mother  loved music  and incorporated it into  every aspect of her life. Deafness ran in her family.  She was born to two pro- foundly deaf parents,  and had a younger  deaf sister named Carly and a few deaf aunts  and uncles. By having some hearing ability, it was as if she were determined to hear enough music  for all of them and listened  to it with a junkie’s  fervor. Anything would do. Hard-rocking Led Zeppelin played alongside  the kooky,  light pop of Captain & Tennille.
 
Mom  collected hundreds of vinyl records. She also subscribed to Billboard’s Hot 100 and music  magazines  that published  lyrics so she could understand  the  words.  Every Sunday  afternoon, she piled  a thick  stack of 45s onto the hi-fi console turntable, the most impressive piece of furniture we ever owned, cranked the volume,  and cleaned house while singing  to her favorite songs. Mom couldn’t carry  a tune  in a bucket.   But it didn’t matter: Our weekend  ritual was  so much  fun with Mom vacuuming  and David and me sharing  the dusting  duties.
I plopped down  cross-legged,  front row and  center,  in the crowd that formed in a semicircle  around Mom  and the band. I slapped my  hand over my  puffed-up  chest as they began to play the national anthem.
I mouthed  along with her signing  as the song swelled to its triumphant end, majestically  demonstrated by Mom’s sweeping movements,  “. . . and the  home . . . of the . . . BRAVE!”  I ap- plauded wildly  while  the Deaf showed their approval by raising their arms and wiggling  their fingers as  if  they  were  tickling God’s belly. No one could sign a song  in ASL like Mom could.
Mom accepted the praise with a curtsy  and thank-you  before she continued. “This next song is my favorite. It’s called  ‘Dreams’ by Fleetwood  Mac.”  The music started  and stirred within her. She  grooved in place to the opening  chords.

Now  here you go again,
You say you want your freedom . . .

Mom was flushed from the heat of the spotlight,  the thrill of performing,   and the  few  cocktails  she’d been   drinking. Dad leaned against  a wall  in the  back of the crowd, sipping  a  fresh Coors Light. He smiled with a slight smirk as his wife relished the limelight.  I shared his thought: She was beautiful.
From where I sat, my mother  was the envy of anyone in that stale Tulsa bowling alley. But the truth was, this trip to Oklahoma should have been our  last  as a family. Dad had cheated on Mom again—this time on New Year’s Eve—and pretty much everyone there knew it except for David and me. Fed up with his philan- dering, Mom  was leaving him. She’d hastily packed everything we owned into  a rented  storage space and in the days before we set off for Tulsa, she had checked us into an apartment in the bad part of Houston that charged by the week.
David and I didn’t know the purpose of our trip to Tulsa. We were unaware that Mom  was going to break the news to her par- ents about her plans to divorce Dad. By participating in the bowl- ing tournament, she was also  fulfilling  her obligations   to the Deaf community.  She was the reigning  women’s singles  cham- pion, after all.
My father was just along for the ride to see his friends and keep up appearances for Mom,  though he had a hard time stay- ing on the straight  and narrow.  He couldn’t help but party hard and flirt, assuring anyone who questioned his antics that he was going to be single  soon.
“Christy left me,” he told one woman. “She wants  a divorce,” he told another. He wasn’t lying, but his comments resulted in something  Dad hadn’t anticipated. He had set the rumor mill swirling and several  women  approached Mom with the same blunt question: “Are you and Ted getting   a divorce?” One  thing Mom  passed down to me was her disdain  for the malicious  gos- sip that seemed to infect their  circle of friends  in the Deaf com- munity, as  if  there  was  some  sort of perverse satisfaction  in circulating  the misery of another. Being  married  to my father made  her hypersensitive  to  the  damage that  whispers could cause.
“Who told  you  that?” Mom defiantly responded. “Ted,” they answered.
She confronted  Dad with the gossip.  “Why did they ask me that?”
“They’re jealous of you,” he signed. “They don’t want to see us together.”
“But they said you told them  I left  you.”
“No! They lie. They’re trying  to break us up and cause prob- lems.” My  father could spin shit into  gold. Once he told a lie, he committed to it, and with  each retelling it became his truth. He grabbed Mom  by her waist and smothered her neck and cheeks with kisses, smiling as he cooed in his softest  voice, “I luh yooo, Chrisseee. I luh yooo.” There was his dimple again.
Some kids might  have been embarrassed  at seeing  their par- ents be affectionate, but I never was. I loved watching them kiss and cuddle. I was too young to understand  my father’s motives and see that he was playing upon Mom’s weakness: her determi- nation  to appear strong, in control,  and poised like the woman her fans  adored. That  night,  her pride got in the way—she knew he was  a cheater, but  by staying   with him she  could prove the nay-saying gossips wrong. So she took him back, on one condi- tion.

Table of Contents

Prologue xi

Boars Head, 1978-1986

Chapter 1 Kingpin 3

Chapter 2 Montgomery Hillbillies 16

Chapter 3 You're the One That I Want (Oooh, Oooh, Oooh) 40

Chapter 4 The Man of Steel 56

Chapter 5 Half Baked 74

Chapter 6 Showcase Showdown 83

Chapter 7 Oklahoma! 98

Chapter 8 Workin' for a Livin' 115

Chapter 9 Hellcat Under a Hot Tin Roof 136

Chapter 10 Repo Man 154

Grove Street, 1986-1987

Chapter 11 The Miracle Worker 177

Weyland Drive, 1987-1989

Chapter 12 Sixteen Candles 207

Chapter 13 A Petty Officer and a Gentleman 227

Chapter 14 Excessive Noise Disturbance 238

Chapter 15 Come Sail Away 249

New York City, 2002-2008

Chapter 16 Overboard 267

Chapter 17 Witness for the Prosecution 294

Chapter 18 Nothing but the Truth 308

Epilogue 327

Acknowledgments 333

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Burn Down the Ground 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The trouble is, deaf people also have to make a living, which is usually found in the world of the Hearing Community. And this does not always go smoothly. Crews' father, Ted Crews, was a particularly tragic case of this, a man who could never quite make that transition for long, although he was a man of many talents and skills in the world of carpentry and most areas of general contracting. Crews cannot really say for sure why her father had so many problems with authority and normal work routines. She did learn something of his childhood as a boarding student at an Oklahoma school for the deaf from the age of seven. Too young to understand, he thought his father had abandoned him there and perhaps never quite got over that. When the author told stories about her Dad when she was young, my eyes got misty remembering doing the same things with my Dad when I was young. Back in the day when you could ride in the bed of a pickup truck and Dad would let me drive the straight back road home. Trying to please him by wanting to help him do things, only to be disappointed that the position was taken by my older brother. Wheelbarrow rides around the yard and fighting off daddy long legs during camping trips. Anyone who reads this book will find a part of themselves in it. This author still has a long life to live but has endured so much more than someone like me. My life broke me, but Kambri got stronger. Whether she put up a wall to keep the pain out, put all her energy into school and work, or ran away to different states, I cannot imagine how I would cope if my Dad was in prison for attempted murder. Her Dad was the reason her family broke up and went their separate ways, but his imprisonment has brought them back together in one form or another. I do not think I could sit across from my Dad in a prison visiting room while he denied facts and only asked for money. Kambri has forgiven her Dad and has accepted who he is. "It can't be pretty without being ugly first." The Crews family has burned down the ground, best wishes for growing new, bright and healthy.  I was most interested in a this book because of the child's view of the Deaf community. I learned some things I hadn't known before, like that deaf people can be loud neighbors because they don't realize they are making noise. Crews also shares the discrimination her parents experienced in a time before the American's with Disabilities Act.    
dadreamer83 More than 1 year ago
Book was a goodreads review advance copy. Always been a fan of auto/biographies as long as I can remember. Can remember reading the big ones in elementary school. Don't know what it is about this one but loved it! Never could find myself to pull away from this. Not to say things in the book are not true but has the feel of a great story that you can not put down. Maybe my excitement with this book is the love hearing someone's own life story, tales from the past. And the life that they have had lived. Eagerly turned pages finding myself more, and more pulled into the book. Dreading when getting near the end of the book. Before I would know the story would be over. Horrified when some of the pages started to come loose and try to fall out. Sounds like my kind of luck and book happened to be signed too lol. But it was it was just like four pages and was able to finish book without anymore falling out. Due hope author will come out with some other kind of book in the future. Loved her storytelling in this one, and one of the best books I have read in awhile
elibrarian More than 1 year ago
I hounded the publicist for a copy of the early manuscript and wasn't able to put it down. This remarkable memoir is so moving and well-written and offers amazing insight into the Deaf community.
ColonelBligh More than 1 year ago
“Burn Down the Ground” is more than readable. It’s put-your-phone-on-airplane-mode, call-in-sick-for-work, ignore-your-spouse-and-family readable. No, you may not have grown up isolated in the woods. No, you may not have been immersed in the Deaf community. And no, your formative years may not have been marked by intense and random bursts of violence. But in these pages, you will recognize yourself—the tragic comedy of youth, and the terrifying realization that maybe your heroes aren’t so heroic after all. Kambri Crews is more than just someone who can tell an amazing story–she is an amazing story.
Raycho More than 1 year ago
A truly amazing, heart-wrenching story. I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to write a review of a book about the life of a real person, written by that person (who is still around to read the review!) I read this book 3 times in a row. Each time my prevailing impression was not “A deaf convict and how he tried to destroy his family,” instead it was “No matter how grim the circumstance of your family they are still your family and you love them.” This book is not about a Deaf family, though it provides useful and inspirational information about what it is like to grow up in the Deaf Community. This book is not about domestic violence, though it provides a powerful example of how badly our law enforcement handled violence against women and insight into how far we have come (and even more insight into how much further we have to go.) This book is not about alcoholism, drug abuse, infidelity or mental illness, though it does provide a frightening example of how all those things can tear a family apart. This book is about a woman who took advantage of life. Where a stranger might say, “Just give up,” Kambri Crews said, “This is just another hill that I can climb.” This is a story that provides the reader with a dose of reality and teaches us that we have much to learn about society outside of our own little micro-culture.
Carol_Amos More than 1 year ago
Kambri Crews is an incredible storyteller. Unfortunately, I haven't had the chance to see her perform yet, but she really delivers in her memoir. She provides fascinating insight into life in rural Texas - really rural Texas - and life as a CODA (Child of Deaf Adult). Finely crafted with honesty and humor, Crews' life is inspiring especially how she has been able to accept her father as he is and still have a relationship with him on her terms and without losing herself. No small feat. A great read! I look forward to more from Kambri Crews!
PhilMcCracken More than 1 year ago
Kambri Crews is a truly remarkable woman, and you'll agree by the time you come to end of her story. As remarkable as it is that she was a girl with hearing raised in a deaf household, that's only the beginning, and you'll be rooting for her as she makes her way through this rags-to-no-longer-being-in-rags story. This is one of those Oprah-type books you'll end up buying as a gift for your friends so you can discuss it.
luckygfarm More than 1 year ago
Kambri Crews is an amazing storyteller! She has a way of making the reader feel as they are in the room. She's witty, funny, and doesn't pull any punches. This book relates to so many different readers, including the deaf, low socioeconomic, and families who have had to deal with domestic violence. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll love this book!
Readsalot4 More than 1 year ago
This was a very absorbing book, a memoir of a hearing child (and her hearing brother) raised by deaf parents who were enmeshed in a dysfunctional relationship. At times, I was reminded of Jeanette Walls's The Glass Castle, but with a spousal abuse (on the part of the alcoholic father) compounding the problems. It's amazing how resilient some children are -- and how oblivious some adults are to the problems of children, their own and others' children. As a former social worker in child welfare, I recognized the patterns of unintentional neglect, both emotional and physical. The effects of neglect stay with kids longer than abuse, I believe. "A happy childhood lasts a lifetime," I've heard it said. An unhappy one does, as well. A cautionary tale for anyone who works with children.
sjziegler More than 1 year ago
The only thing I hated about this book was having to put it down and go to sleep! When the author told stories about her Dad when she was young, my eyes got misty remembering doing the same things with my Dad when I was young. Back in the day when you could ride in the bed of a pickup truck and Dad would let me drive the straight back road home. Trying to please him by wanting to help him do things, only to be disappointed that the position was taken by my older brother. Wheelbarrow rides around the yard and fighting off daddy longlegs during camping trips (man those suckers can get really big). There were times that my brother hurt me and my mother did not listen. I had bad hair, bad skin, braces, thick glasses and clothes from K-mart when I entered junior high. Fortunately, God blessed me with a big rack, so that took the boy's eyes away from my face. I changed and grew with every move to a new home. My parents only had horrible screaming fights but my brother's destructive behavior caused physical fights with my Dad. Anyone who reads this book will find a part of themselves in it. This author still has a long life to live but has endured so much more than someone like me. My life broke me, but Kambri got stronger. Whether she put up a wall to keep the pain out, put all her energy into school and work, or ran away to different states, I cannot imagine how I would cope if my Dad was in prison for attempted murder. Her Dad was the reason her family broke up and went their separate ways, but his imprisonment has brought them back together in one form or another. I do not think I could sit across from my Dad in a prison visiting room while he denied facts and only asked for money. Kambri has forgiven her Dad and has accepted who he is. "It can't be pretty without being ugly first." The Crews family has burned down the ground, best wishes for growing new, bright and healthy. If you don't believe me, check it out for yourself!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kambri Crews is so genuine as she shares her moving story. Her honesty makes you appreciate her strength and ability to overcome and it also causes you to stop and count your blessings. I couldn't put this book down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easy reading and great story I could not put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I devoured this book in two days. It is written so well. You will imagine yourself right next to Crews as she describes the sights and sounds of her life. I am inspired by how well adjusted she came out of such a childhood. I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the deaf community.
Quisitive More than 1 year ago
This author has risen above tough circumstances to make her way in the world. This is a classic example of triumphing over seemingly insurmountable challenges to become something extraordinary. Read this book to remind yourself that if you put your mind to something, it can be done. Read it to remind yourself we are all human. Read it to remind yourself that forgiveness is crucial to love. Highly recommend.
CopperP More than 1 year ago
This is a must read by a very gifted writer and story teller!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Imagine what it would be like to grow up caught between the world of the hearing and the world of the Deaf. This is a no holds barred look at one strong woman's life It opened up a world to me that I had never bothered to consider. Kambri is a survivor who could have blamed others for the life she was delt but she overcomes and understands that it all made her stronger and everyone did their best with what they had.
dpappas on LibraryThing 14 hours ago
I had taken a couple of ASL classes before and really enjoyed it so I was interested in reading Kambri Crews' memoir. Kambri is the hearing daughter of two deaf parents (also known as a CODA. In her memoir Kambri talks about her chaotic life as a child and how it had affected her. She talks about life as a CODA, her parents' lives, a little bit about Deaf culture, and more emotional topics.I loved how honest Kambri was in this memoir. She writes about some frightening and deeply personal events and doesn't hide anything. From her days living in a shed, to her father's violent rages against her and her mother, you can immediately connect with Kambri and find yourself cheering for her. I would recommend this book to family and friends.*I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway which in no way affects the content of my review.*
EllenH on LibraryThing 14 hours ago
I just finished Kambri Crews book, Burn down the Ground that I received thru Libraything¿s early reader. Her account of life growing up in a family with deaf parents, in Texas is often funny, scary, violent and touching. This woman is a survivor as are her Mom and brother. She writes in a way that allows you to read about this raw, yet affectionate life they led. In spite of the anger I felt for the trauma they suffered, I gave the book 4 stars. It was well written, and very readable.
jrquilter on LibraryThing 14 hours ago
This book is about the life of Kambri Crews, the hearing daughter of deaf parents. Her family was poor and highly dysfunctional. The memoir is largely about the many difficulties she experienced growing up in an abusive home. At times if felt as though her father's deafness was used as an excuse for his bad behavior. I was hoping for much more insight into deaf culture.
kjeanqu on LibraryThing 14 hours ago
As a hearing child of two parents who are deaf, her parents not being able to hear is the least of author Kambri Crews problems. Her father is an angry expolosive man, who ultimately makes it impossible to live with and/or maintain a relationship with. Kambri Crews however, is able to rise above such a difficult set of circumstances and become a seemimgly happy and well adjusted adult. I found the memoir to be funny, sad and very readable.
Alie on LibraryThing 14 hours ago
Kambri is a hearing daughter of two deaf parents and her book explores her journey to adulthood, through interesting, funny, and sometimes difficult stories. She talks about her difficult relationship with her father and his fall from grace, and how she has come to terms with it as an adult. An incredibly interesting read, bringing up things I would never have thought about as a hearing person with hearing parents. I feel I walk away from this book with a better understanding and appreciation for the deaf community as well as being very impressed with the person Kambri has become with the childhood difficulties she overcame. An excellent read.
ellenflorman on LibraryThing 14 hours ago
[Burn Down The Ground] by [[Kambri Crews]] is an interesting look at her life growing up as a hearing child of deaf parents. She shares her unique perspective of what it is like to be responsible for much of the communication between her parents and the world at large. Her family life was somewhat bohemian, and while her mother was hardworking and basically supported the family, her father was not able to hold a job for long even though he was a talented carpenter due to his temper and substance abuse. It is inspiring to see how much she had to overcome to get to the successful life that she enjoys today. I'm not convinced that all of the family's struggles can be attributed to the parents' deafness, but it is a remarkable story.
akblanchard on LibraryThing 14 hours ago
This book, yet another memoir of a hardscrabble childhood, has its slow spots, but it really gets going when the author describes her hearing-impaired father's descent into alcoholism, paranoia, and rage.
TimBazzett on LibraryThing 14 hours ago
I love memoirs, and Kambri Crews' BURN DOWN THE GROUND could very well turn out to be one of the best of 2012 - and it's her first book too. If Crews is like many women, she probably doesn't particularly like being reminded of her age, but I'm gonna say it anyway, because she's only forty, which seems kinda young to be writing your memoirs. But the fact is she had a story worth telling - that she NEEDED to tell - and she does a fine job of it.BURN DOWN THE GROUND is a magical mix of the ordinary and horrific, the story of a girl born to deaf parents. Kambri Crews was a "CODA" (child of deaf adults) in the parlance of the Deaf Community. She goes on to explain -"The Deaf have their own language, arts, churches, and universities. Because of this, they are strongly bonded through shared history and life experiences, and view themselves as a distinct society."The trouble is, deaf people also have to make a living, which is usually found in the world of the Hearing Community. And this does not always go smoothly. Crews' father, Ted Crews, was a particularly tragic case of this, a man who could never quite make that transition for long, although he was a man of many talents and skills in the world of carpentry and most areas of general contracting. Crews cannot really say for sure why her father had so many problems with authority and normal work routines. She did learn something of his childhood as a boarding student at an Oklahoma school for the deaf from the age of seven. Too young to understand, he thought his father had abandoned him there and perhaps never quite got over that.She mentions too that her father's deafness made him feel insecure and paranoid, feelings which often escalated into jealousy, anger and violence, usually directed at her mother. As a child Kambri was unaware of this, and worshiped her handsome talented dad, who, with only his family's help, cleared a piece of scrub ground in the Texas woods and made them a home. This small unofficial settlement northeast of Houston in Montgomery County was called Boars Head. I thought of LORD OF THE FLIES, and Kambri, her brother and friends did indeed live a kind of dark and unsupervised wild-child existence there.Although the Crews family lived from paycheck to paycheck, barely keeping ahead of the bill collectors and repo men, Kambri herself was an all-A student who loved sports, learning and reading until she hit puberty and briefly "fell in with a bad crowd," as we used to say. A move back to the city gives her a chance to start fresh in high school and she embraces this second chance, once again becoming an honor student and working full-time besides. During these years she learns more about the dark side of her parents' marriage, and even finally witnesses her drunken father's rage and his brutal battering of her mother. She finds a way out in a quick marriage to a local sailor and a move to Ohio. Although the marriage doesn't last, Kambri's determination to succeed does. She puts herself through college and works her way up into management in the banking industry, but isn't satisfied, so moves to New York and starts over again.The Crews family has, in the meantime, disintegrated. Her parents have divorced and her brother, a reformed drug addict, has gone his own way. And perhaps I should point out that Kambri herself is no saint. She's had her own detours and lapses with drugs, alcohol and casual sex along the way. But always she keeps on trying to figure out her father. In fact her narrative is framed by a visit she is making to her father - the first in nine years - in Huntsville prison, where he is serving twenty years for assault and attempted murder. She can't cut him loose.BURN DOWN THE GROUND is a beautifully written memoir. It offers a window into the world of the Deaf, but more particularly it tells the story of how one young woman managed to rise above her difficult beginnings in a troubled hardscrabble Texas family. But she won't forget them - refuses
LeAnn.Campbell on LibraryThing 14 hours ago
I enjoyed this book. It was well written and a great story. It was interesting to learn what it was liking living with deaf parents. There are also elements of poverty, domestic violence, and drug abuse. It's amazing how well Kambri turned out considering everything that was working against her. 3 1/2 stars