Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Silenced - Simon Packham

'That's when it hit me: a sadness so overwhelming it felt like all the lights in the universe were going out.'

Chris narrates this story throughout, addressing his words directly to his best friend Declan, who has just died in a car crash. The two of them had evidently been inseparable friends; they had been a comedy double act together, with dreams of appearing at the Edinburgh Festival one day. One cherished episode of the sitcom they created together is all that is left now.

After a while, the novelty of Chris’s silence wears off amongst his peers, with only Ariel and new boy Will spending any time with him. Ariel, together with her mother, lives a kind of alternative lifestyle that acknowledges an awareness of the world and its resources. She realises there is something Chris is keeping to himself with regard to Declan and his death, and as Chris gets to know Ariel more, he realises that, as Ariel says, 'Declan was full of surprises.' Will however encourages Chris into dangerous actions to try and escape from himself and his silence, to stop him from dwelling on Declan and his death.

Chris loses the power to speak, enduring a selective mutism – leaving those around him, and the reader, wondering what exactly has caused this in Chris? We learn how low and despondent he feels; 'As if a black cloud of my own making was parked permanently above my head. All I knew was that I'd done something terrible; something so terrible, I simply wasn't ready to face it yet. And even in my head, I was about a million miles away from being able to put it into words.'

What is the secret that he is so scared to divulge? Why does he carry blame for what happened to his best friend? What passed between them? Will he be able to speak up? I felt intrigued and compelled to read on and understand Chris, to discover his feelings and his reasoning.

The author handles this subject well, exploring the enormous feelings of grief and loss that Chris is carrying with him. I felt the language and style of a teenage boy was well captured and employed by the author to create an authentic character of that age.

This is a story that readers both young and old could get something out of. It is moving and explores death and guilt sensitively but openly. I will be looking out for this author’s other books.  

Published by Piccadilly Press

Thanks to the publisher for kindly sending a copy of this novel to read and give an honest review.

You can find out more about the author here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and leave a comment. It's great reading your comments and I really appreciate them :)