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Customer Review

on 16 November 2005
The three people featured in this book have very disparate needs, yet all are bound by a common thread - silence in varying degrees. Cassandra, 9 was kidnapped by her father when she was 5. Two years after being kidnapped, she was found foraging in garbage cans outside of a small store. She was then returned to her mother, sisters and stepfather. Violent outbursts and erratic behavior led to her being admitted to an in-patient unit. While on the unit, Cassandra's behavior includes lying. She was also described as being able to identify others' weak spots and use them. Her behavior had reached such a critical point on the ward where she was spending much of her time in "lockdown" or seclusion, especially after she accused staff of molestation and harped on molestation themes to another child who had no known history of abuse. Efforts to separate Cassandra from the other child became part of her treatment, as did identifying feelings; naming the real abusers; defining boundaries and setting limits and helping her piece her memories together lead Cassandra to greater progress.
Gerda, 82 suffered from a stroke which affected her ability to speak. When she did speak, it was of her memories of living during the early 20th century; the loss of several siblings and the countryside as she remembered from her peripatetic travels in girlhood. Records from the local census bureau confirm her accounts; Gerda's progress is spurred even further by this additional interest.
Four-year-old Drake also has speech issues. Like Gerda, his condition was purely physical. A congenital vocal cord condition affected his ability to produce words and use his mouth muscles for activities such as blowing bubbles and licking ice cream. Popular in pre-school and described as having no behavioral issues, Drake travels with his ubiquitous toy tiger. After evaluating and observing Drake's progress in pre-school, it was decided that he be evaulated at the same hospital where Cassandra is a patient.
Unlike Cassandra, Drake is not described as presenting psychiatric issues and he seems to adapt to his surroundings. On one occasion, he gets to leave the hospital for an afternoon to visit Gerda, whose speech accelerates upon her delight at his visit. Gerda's accounts of her youth are especially touching and reading of this senior's progress alongside of two very young clients makes for a very pleasant bond indeed. Regardless of age, these people all shared the common thread of good humanity and the basic desire to communicate.
In time, Drake's medical condition is revealed, along with it family dynamics and well guarded secrets. In time, more walls are knocked down as Drake's family confronts the truth about his vocal condition. Learning sign language and being discharged from the hospital accelerates his progress and readers can take delight in the gains he and his family have made.
For these three clients, the sound of silence was broken.
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