Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Piccadilly Press (1 Jun 2012)
“At first I thought there were technical problems – something wrong with the sound system – because when I opened my mouth I couldn’t hear a thing. But it was more serious than that…I was completely dumb.”
Chris loses the power of speech completely when his best friend dies in a car crash. Why? What terrible secret is he hiding? And can he find his voice before it’s too late?
Powerful and original, this is a thought-provoking new thriller by the author of “coming 2 gt u” and “The Bex Factor”
When Piccadilly Press tweeted for any bloggers interested in reading Silenced, I read the synopsis and quickly tweeted back. Along with the intrigue of finding out what Chris’ secret was, I was also interested in the selective mutism aspect.
We find out from a newspaper article that Facebook tributes for 15 year old Declan Norris are flooding in. We’re then transported to 8 months after the crash and Chris has gone to visit the site of the accident for the first time. He’s chatting to Declan and the reader feels there has been a resolution of some kind.
Starting from the morning after the crash until we’re back to 8 months after crash at the same scene, we become involved in the St Thomas school community dealing with their grief and specifically, Chris’ healing journey.
Narrated in the first person, we become a part of Chris’ pain and guilt. He can speak up until 5 days after the crash when at the memoriam at school, he is unable to perform his part. It only takes a few more weeks before CAMHS become involved (the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service). I work with our local CAMHS so for me, Chris’ sessions brought this service to life for me! Despite all the support available for Chris, he still remains mute. As the story progresses we get to know more about his friendship with Declan and come to understand that Chris isn’t mute from his best friends death but from the secret he is hiding.
Chris’ peers and family add depth to the story … Ariel, (Declan’s girlfriend) knows there is something underlying his inability to speak and doesn’t give up trying to help him and Will, who is a new boy and leads Chris into some daredevil escapades. These key characters are quite interesting in their juxtaposed roles. Will’s high jinx leads Chris to forget for a short time while Ariel is drawing him out to make him remember.
“Ariel was like a truth drug. The longer I spent with her, the more likely I was to crack. She seemed to have worked out I was hiding something. And she wasn’t going to let go.” (page 105)
The frustration of his parents at his inability to talk is poignantly shown in an overheard conversation.
The intrigue of what could possibly have had such a huge impact on Chris draws the reader on and the language is apt for the YA audience. So is the perspective of the adolescent – as adults I think we sometimes forget that maturity (usually!) brings an emotional intelligence.
My rating is based on the targeted audience:
I would like to thank Piccadilly Press for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.