Silenced by Simon Packham
Published: 1 June 2012 (Piccadilly Press)
Buy: Amazon, Waterstone's (e-book), Book Depository
Source: Received free copy from the publisher to review.
It wasn't grief; grief I could have learnt to cope with.
It was so much worse than that.
When Chris's best friend is killed in a car crash, Chris is struck dumb – literally.
This book tells the story of Chris, who becomes mute following the death of his best friend Declan in a car accident. We follow his journey as he comes to terms with what happens and tries to find his voice again.
I really loved the idea of this story. It's showing the reality of grief through a teenager's eyes, and even though what's happening to Chris is a tough subject matter, the way this book approached it was brilliant. Both the topics of grief and mental health are handled really well - not once did I sit there feeling depressed or uncomfortable, but at the same time you felt the realness of what Chris was going through. I think this book is a prime example of how to tackle these subjects for young adult readers.
The way the book is narrated was one of the things I loved most. The story is told through Chris as if he were talking to Declan. This means we get a real insight into their friendship even though his best friend is no longer alive. It also helps give Chris this really witty, brilliant personality, even though for most of this book he isn't able to speak.
There's some really great humour in this book too - totally not what you'd expect when you hear the plot summary! But Chris and Declan saw themselves as comedians; dreaming of the Edinburgh Fringe and writing their own sketch show, so with Chris's point of view comes all these fantastic witty lines and observations. I'd find myself chuckling along throughout!
I loved that the book felt really current, too. In a generation of Facebook and smartphones this book felt like it fitted right in with teenage life, and even what happens to Declan is something you hear about on the news far too often.
The climax towards the end maybe felt a little rushed - maybe I just wanted more time with the characters! But I really liked that every character got their own sort of conclusion. It was a very satisfying ending.
It's a nice easy read; fairly short length and not too wordy. I'd thoroughly recommend this book to anyone of any age, young and old as I think anyone could get something out of reading it. I look forward to reading more by this author!
What to read next: Comin 2 Gt U by Simon Packham.
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