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~ Plot ~
"My husband shot himself in our bedroom. When I got home, Emma was standing at the bottom of the stairs, screaming."
Since that traumatic day, Laura Brandon's little girl hasn't uttered a word. Previously, Emma was a chatty little girl always having something to say. Laura is desperate to help her daughter talk again and seeks help from professionals.
When Laura's father dying wish is for her to visit elderly Sarah, Laura doesn't know why. Who is this woman and why does her father want her to start visiting her. Laura has never even heard Sarah's named mentioned previously. Not wanting to ignore her father's dying wish, Laura begins visiting Sarah and the story of Sarah's past begins to unfold.
When a psychiatrist suggests that Emma won't talk because she's terrified of men, Laura is guilt-ridden. To help Emma, she needs to know what unspeakable secret lies behind her husband's suicide. Laura thought her family was perfect, but her quest leads her to a shocking truth. For her child's sake, should her father's sins be kept silent?
~ My Opinion ~
Having read and enjoyed other books by Diane Chamberlain I decided to give this one a try. I purchased it for my kindle over the Christmas period and it was only 99p (from Amazon) - bargain!
I was initially drawn to the book due to the title 'Breaking the Silence'. I thought and hoped it might have something to do with communication and I was correct in that selective mutism is an important theme within the book. As I'm a newly qualified Speech and Language Therapist, I found this of particular interest (even though the whole story kept me hooked).
I really enjoyed this book and could hardly put it down once I started it. I read one chapter before I went to bed and the next morning I decided to read a chapter over breakfast. However, this one chapter quickly led to two and three and more, and I ended up spending the whole day reading! I finished the book early that evening and it's safe to say I got nothing else done that day! (I don't usually have enough time to spend the whole day reading, but I was so absorbed in this book!)
The book is written in third person and is mainly set in the present day. The story takes us to the past at times as well, through stories from Sarah's life. Sarah is an old lady with Alzheimer's who Laura visits following a request from her dying father. The story moved smoothly from the past to present, and although very different stories, they both had me equally hooked. I felt I could relate to Sarah, and was fond of her, as my beloved Grandma had Alzheimer's in the last years of her life.
Mental health issues are a running theme throughout the book and Chamberlain deals with these in a delicate way, without shying away from the issue. She writes about these issues well and they were seamlessly part of the story. Some parts of the book are a little disturbing but they are written extremely well, so although they did affect me, it didn't take enjoyment away from the book.
From quite early on the book, the reader is left asking questions about events, and I quickly started to hypothesise what I thought would turn out to be true. I did this throughout the book, and whilst I guessed some parts, there were still some shocks and events that I didn't expect at all. Some things I didn't work out until almost the end, which I think was due to the excellent writing of the book. I enjoyed constantly questioning things and learning more about the characters. I was satisfied with the ending and all the lose ends were tied up.
It is clear that Chamberlain has done her research before writing this book and that's what makes it so brilliant. She takes issues which could be difficult to talk about and writes about them beautifully. There are also other themes which I found particularly interesting to read about such as Laura's career as a high flying astronomer or the hot air balloon business which always appears in the story.
I related to most of the characters and enjoyed reading them develop as the book went on. When I had a toilet or food break, I found that I was thinking about the characters as though I knew them and couldn't wait to sit back down and read some more. Even the characters which were a smaller part of the story were developed well and fitted in really well.
Although initially drawn to the book because of the selective mutism, I thoroughly enjoyed all elements of the story. It is powerful, compelling and emotive and I felt like I knew most of the characters personally by the end of the book. I think this book would appeal to a wide audience of male and female readers as there are a number of themes (suicide, mystery, romance, psychiatric health, astronomy and heartbreak).
I would thoroughly recommend this book! It's a few days since I finished this book but I am still thinking about it as it touched me so much.
~ Other ~
File Size: 2596 KB
Print Length: 407 pages
I got this book for 99p for my kindle in December but it's currently £2.96. Amazon are currently charging £3.12 for paperback edition.
Warning: do not start reading if you have more important things to do as they might have to wait!
Thanks for reading. bluejules
Laura has a fantastic career as a very gifted astronomer, a husband who loves her even if he is a little distant, and a beautiful carefree daughter, life is good in the Brandon household.
At least it was until one day when Laura comes home to find her daughter Emma screaming at the bottom of the stairs and her husband nowhere to be found until her search takes her to their bedroom where she finds him dead from a single gunshot wound to the head.
The police rule the incident as suicide which seems logical to Laura as although she never thought Ray's problems were so serious it would cause him to kill himself, especially in the house with his young daughter she knew he had been suffering from depression. The worry for Laura now is that the screams Emma made on the afternoon of her fathers death were the last noises ever to leave her mouth. Her wonderful chatterbox daughter had been mute since that terrible day and nothing Laura did could coax the words from her.
What secrets is Emma hiding from her mother? What horrors caused a once bright child to literally become mute overnight?
After reading another of Diane Chamberlain's novels I picked this one up at my local bookshop in a 3 for 2 offer hoping I would enjoy it as much as I had the other, and thankfully I did, possibly more so.
One thing I find fantastic about Chamberlain's writing is the way she really brings the characters to life. I found myself wishing that Laura would be able to help heal herself and her family. I wondered what I would do in her situation and how hard it must be to deal with a child who was mute, especially one who had seemingly been such an outgoing and chatty child previously.
I also love the way that Chamberlain doesn't shy away from characters who might shock the reader, and I find that she deals sensitively with the issues of mental illness which are a large part of this novel. I never found that she was being patronising of making light of what is quite a serious subject.
The character of Sarah who plays a large part in the novel was one who I really found myself caring for, she suffers with Alzheimers disease which is something my grandmother suffered with before she passed away and the character of Sarah reminded me of her and the way that Sarah is written is done very well and was obviously very well researched.
Breaking the silence was an interesting mix of drama, thriller and romance but strangely it worked very well. I found myself hooked on the story from the very beginning first wanting to know if Emma would ever talk again, then if Laura was going to find love after losing Ray, then trying to decide who I thought the mysterious old lady Sarah was. There was more than enough to keep you enticed throughout the book, and I was always trying to think one step ahead to figure out the information before it was fed to me which definately kept me on my toes, especially the two major reveals towards the end of the novel which I have to say I didn't see coming.
Another fantastic novel from Diane Chamberlain and one I would highly recommend, an interesting storyline filled with characters you will really find yourself bonding with.
Plus if you have a mother who enjoys a good book, this would make a great mothers day present.
Also posted on Ciao under my username emsi