Itani vividly captures the isolation of a deaf girl seeking normalcy in her small Canadian town circa World War I. The epic story begins a few months after 5-year-old Grania O'Neill suffers a bout of scarlet fever that causes irreparable hearing loss. She spends more than a decade at the Ontario Institution for the Deaf and Dumb and returns home at 19, an accomplished -- and newly married -- schoolteacher. Then her hearing husband, Jim, is shipped off to the front lines in France, and Itani shuttles between his standard-issue battlefield yarn and Grania's experience on the homefront. ''Deafening'' resonates most when Itani focuses on the rich details of this unusual woman's plight.