Book Review: If you could See what I Hear

If You Could See what I Hear is a book co-authored between Tom Sullivan and Derek Gill. First Published by Harper and Row in 1975, it is true the story of Tom Sullivan, known entertainer of the 80's, and inspirational speaker. The story narrates Tom's earliest moments, being born blind due to unfortunate lack of medical knowledge, and traces his steps up until his 27th year, after being married to Patty Steffen and after becoming a father to two children- Tom III and Blythe.

Born in New York to a wealthy, boisterous american-irish father and a quiet and dignified mother, Tom's parents distinct personalities made an immense impact on Tom's perspective on life- His father, known for his wild and theatrical displays (usually fuelled by alcohol) and his lust for attacking life, secured Tom's determination to be as much of a 'normal' child as was possible, whilst Tom's mother provided a strong protective influence, and one of providing a Tom for a lifetime of self respect which served him well into adulthood.

"If you could See what I Hear" is a book about finding self respect, and ultimately love. Tom's story chronicles his struggle to be "normal", through membership of childhood friendship groups, through mischief making dares and discovering adventure and danger - always in a passionate pursuit of being 'the same' as his sighted friends. It covers the heartbreak of his parents separation, and the trials and tribulations of being sent to an all- blind school, the discovery of his most prominent talent, and growing up with the spectre of his father's past which threatened to destabilise Tom. The genuine friends he meets along the way, the physical challenge of his blindness, his experiences at Harvard, his love of physical sports, and the circumstances in which he meets Patty- who becomes the love of His life- are also significant themes within the book.Other central points within this excellent book are the importance of genuine friendships, the belief in the divine, the importance of softness over cynicism and the difference between physical lust and love.
~ An insert from the book featuring Tom and Patty, and Tom and his children.

Tom reflects on his young life without sight, and surmises that the richness of His life lies not in the regret of what he cannot see, but in a strong gratitude of the textures, smells, tastes and sounds that he has come to know and appreciate; and the overpowering  feeling of love that transcends disability. At 184 pages this book is charming, inspiring and though provoking. It is, unfortunately out of print, but secondhand copies are available at, and eBay.

Much more about Tom Sullivan can be found online if you are interested too! :)