Top positive review
6 people found this helpful
A compelling novel of family and relationships
on 8 February 2012
In as many months, I seem to have coincidentally read three novels that focus on selective mutism in children; `Breaking the Silence' by Diane Chamberlain, `December' by Elizabeth Winthrop- and now this one. All of the books have their merits and all deal with the subject matter in different ways and all have made for enjoyable, informative reading.
This is the second novel by Gudenkauf that I have read. I really loved `These Things Hidden' so had high hopes for this one too. It didn't disappoint and I think the writing style is similar to Chamberlain or Picoult, so should you like those authors then you will probably enjoy this book as well.
Set in the US, this book features Calli, eight-years-old and selectively mute for four years, for reasons that slowly become clearer as the book unfolds. This is not just a story concentrating on Calli though; it is a look at friendships, relationships and family and was actually a much more absorbing read than I'd initially anticipated, particularly looking at some other less-than-favourable reviews this novel had received in the past.
As a reader you are immediately engaged with the novel and the different characters as you see events from their perspective. Sometimes a multiple narrator approach just doesn't work, but here thankfully, it was successful and really pulls you into the story. It also allowed the plot to untangle much more quickly. I was never bored whilst reading this novel.
I was however frustrated and also angry with a lot of the characters- particularly Calli's awful father and her mother who seemed blind to his faults. Though Griff (the father) was a horrible person it was actually Antonia, the mother, who came off as more irresponsible overall. Some of the matters that take place later (involving a child) are also a bit grim and upsetting but the reactions to them seem a bit `glossed over' (even in the prologue which was set four years later). I would have liked people's thoughts and emotions to these said matters to be divulged and expanded on just a little bit more, particularly given how serious they were- which is why I have deducted a star.
Generally this was a compelling novel. I really hope to read more by Gudenkauf again in future and hope it is as strongly written as this.