The Lip Reader

Michael Thal

“It’s not what you get in life, it’s what you give back that truly defines you.”

Set in Iran during the 1960s and 1970s, and later in Los Angeles, California, Zhila Shirazi tells her story firsthand. She reveals the real-life struggle of being a deaf woman who refuses to allow adversity to stop her from reaching her dreams of living a normal and fulfilling life.

In 1985, disgusted with the treatment of Jews by the new Islamic government, Zhila immigrates to the United States in pursuit of better circumstances and a chance to receive a cochlear implant to improve her hearing. However, it isn’t until she is forty-nine, when she meets her soulmate, Mickey Daniels, that she begins to feel her life truly complete.

A decade later, after they have fallen deeply in love, Zhila learns that she is suffering from an aggressive form of cancer. In the months that follow, Mickey becomes Zhila’s primary caretaker, and the two grow ever closer as they fight the disease together.

Right up to the end, Zhila shows her caring nature, innate intelligence, and will power to overcome almost any challenge. Her courage and the beauty of her memory is certain to inspire all who venture to follow her on their quest for a truly meaningful life.

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About The Author

Michael Thal

Michael Thal

Michael Thal is a freelance writer and author in Los Angeles, California. Michael began his career in public education. Due to a severe hearing loss, he left his tenured sixth grade teaching assignment to learn the writing craft.

Michael has written over 80 articles for magazines like Highlights for Children, Fun for Kidz, Writer’s Digest, and San Diego Family Magazine.

His novels include Goodbye Tchaikovsky, The Legend of Koolura, Koolura and the Mystery at Camp Saddleback, Koolura and the Mayans, and The Abduction of Joshua Bloom.

You can learn more Michael and his works at

7 reviews for The Lip Reader

  1. Jacqueline Diamond

    “This fascinating, fictionalized memoir brings to life the dramatic and moving events of a deaf woman’s life. Zhila Shirazi not only survives but rises above anti-Semitic persecution in Iran and personal tragedies as she finds a new home and family in America. Her widower, author Thal, skillfully uses fiction techniques to give her story immediacy. This fluidly written and upbeat memoir should enjoy wide appeal.”

    Jacqueline Diamond, USA Today bestselling author of the “Safe Harbor Medical” series

  2. Nancy Wood

    “A poignant portrayal of Zhila Shirazi, who embodied the word ‘resilient’. Zhila was truly a person who gave more than she received and a beautiful example of compassion in action. Author Michael Thal has created a first-person account of Zhila’s life, giving the reader a humbling opportunity to walk with, and learn from, this amazing person.”

    Nancy Wood, author of the “The Shelby McDougall Mysteries


    “This story is a powerful reminder that truth sometimes can indeed be stranger than fiction! It would be difficult for even the most hard-hearted to go through The Lip Reader without at least being emotional and feeling moist in the eyes. There are equally lots of witty lines interspersed throughout the course of the book that would literally have you rolling on the ground with laughter. The Lip Reader is a masterpiece you wouldn’t want to miss for anything!”

    Official Review, (4 out of 5 stars)

  4. Dr. Bob Rich

    The Lip Reader is the memoir of a deceased deaf woman, shining a light onto Persian culture and the obvious and subtle effects of deafness. Some of the events covered are dramatic enough to feature in any novel, others are commonplace, part of almost any life, but all are told with a refreshing clearness that made me want to read on. If you want an enjoyable, interesting read, and would like to see a pathway to becoming a better person yourself, you should invest in Michael’s writing, including The Lip Reader.”

    Dr. Bob Rich, author of Hit and Run and Guardian Angel

  5. Jeanne Bannon

    “I was lucky enough to be one of first to read The Lip Reader by Michael Thal. It was a privilege and an honor to get to know the heroine, Zhila Shirazi, as she came to life for me through Michael’s writing. The Lip Reader, based on a true story, is heartwarming and inspiring. Readers will fall in love with Zhila as she maneuvers bravely through her often, difficult life. Kudos to Michael for sharing her story, a story everyone should read.”

    Jeanne Bannon, author of Invisible

  6. Rod Little

    “Michael Thal’s The Lip Reader is an inspiring tale that follows the journey of a deaf woman, Zhila, as she struggles through her childhood In Iran and eventually immigrates to America. She has a wonderful story to tell, and Michael Thal has written it beautifully. The pace is steady, and the words are direct. You’ll enjoy this book if you like extraordinary dramas. It also makes one understand, if only a little, the life of a deaf person’s. I recommend this book for anyone who enjoyed Terms of Endearment or The Grapes of Wrath. Sometimes tales of tragedy are needed to bring us more understanding. An excellent read.”

    Rod Little, author of On Gravedigger Road

  7. Natalie Soine

    The Lip Reader by Michael Thal is well-researched and well-written with a wonderful variety of characters, places, and events. Zhila’s bravery, dedication, and determination are beautifully captured. I especially enjoyed the smooth flow of the story and the constant pace throughout, following the lives of Zhila, her friends, and her family. The novel is well-edited and easy to read with vivid descriptions and scenes which make it easy for the reader to form a visual of the story. Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable novel, highly recommended.”

    Natalie Soine, Readers’ Favorite

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