This book has gotten a lot of mixed reviews, but the subject matter is so different from a lot of contemporary YA fiction of the non-paranormal genre that I was intrigued. Sometimes these intense subjects can be glossed over or sanitized for the YA book, so I was interested to see how that was going to play out in this book.
The underlying "secret" of this book is a dark subject and one that was probably as tough to write as it was to read without getting extremely emotionally invested in the main character. Oakley is clearly a girl who is haunted by something in her past, but we don't know what that was for much of the book. The hints were subtle and that made the reveal that much more shocking and upsetting. An interesting twist to this story was the fact that Oakley doesn't speak. At all. For that matter, she has virtually no communication with anyone of any kind. Her isolation was so complete that, although she had a cell phone for texting, she never used it. Every night, Cole texted her and she always answered him... but never sent them. I didn't understand why that was until the end, which I won't share for fear of spoilers. That isolation made me wonder how the story could possibly progress well with a character who had no verbal communication. How can she maintain friendships and relationships, trapped in herself the way she was? The answer was simple. She couldn't, not really, outside of her brother and her best friend Cole. It was tragic, her isolation.
There is romance in this book, and it is touching and sweet, but I think that the rest of it was more of the central focus of the book. And I liked that. I liked that there was much more to the story than teenage romance and angst.
This is a story that is, in my opinion, character-driven. There were characters I loved and there were others that I hated with a passion. Like in real life, there were points at which I hated/loved a particular character and then later in the story, my feelings would flip. Oakley's parents are a perfect example of this. As a mom, I felt like their hands off approach was a bit unbelievable. But as the story progresses and you learn ore there are questions that get answered and make you understand.
Things to love about Silence...
--The subject matter. Not that one can truly "like" the subject matter, but I liked how it was handled throughout the story.
--Knowing Oakley. As I said, I wondered how Oakley would be as a well-rounded character without communication and I was truly impressed with how much of a non-issue that turned out to be.
--The relationships and characters. Whether you loved them, or hated them, they evoked a response and that is important.
Things I wanted more or less of...
--More Cole. Technically, the chapters of this book are done in POV-style, chapters for Oakley and chapters for Cole. But Cole's POV doesn't come into play until Chapter 11, more than halfway through the book.
Some quotastic goodness...
--Silence consumed my whole life ; it suppressed things I could never express. My silence was responsible for my family’s happiness. Silence was my prison (1).
--We couldn’t be together. I would never be good enough for him. He was perfect , and I was broken (18).
--I loved her so much. More than anything in the world. Enough to let her go (211).
My recommendation: This was a moving story that I think is more than worth a read!
(review of free book)