Abel and Janice Ryder begin their married life together with all the hopes and dreams of a young couple deeply in love. But before long they realize that their deafness stands as an immense barrier between them and a society that seems to work only for those who can hear. Inexperienced, ignorant, and bewildered, they leave the harsh environment of a school for the handicapped and enter the insensitive world of the hearing. Through years of debt and misunderstanding, hard and degrading work, the raising of a hearing daughter, common tragedies and joys, they learn that the remarkable tool of sign language enables them to survive and, indeed, to forge a love too powerful to be broken by the painful, extraordinary world into which they were born. In a story that spans four generations, we are witness to one family's struggle to carve a place for itself out of the tides of wealth, war, and human strivings that have swept America in this century.