Sound of Silence by the writing team of Mia Kerrick and Raine O’Tierney is told in alternating points of view and with gut wrenching honesty and precision. It follows the story of three damaged souls—all high school students from very different backgrounds that have one terribly sad thread of neglect running throughout.
When we first meet Renzy, we are struck by his ability to communicate using rather unusual methods. Not caring to know sign language, Renzy has navigated his nineteen years by being one of the most expressively nonverbal persons to walk the earth. His siblings have no difficulty understanding his attempts to communicate, his parents largely ignore him, and his friends? Well, he really doesn’t have any. What Renzy has and does well is the ability to listen. So, while it may seem odd that he spends his time at the local community center moving in and out of the various rooms to visit any number of self-help discussion groups, Renzy remains apart—unfazed by any emotional drama that often surrounds him. He did, that is, until the two trendy siblings arrived in town.
Seven and Morning Moreaux-Maddox are beautiful, untouchable, and very, very jaded. Having effectively raised themselves, they are a product of a home environment where the parents travel more than remain at home and throw money at any problem they can in order to avoid being involved—they are parents in name only who view children as…problems. The trauma of rape has brought the family stateside to a small town high school where Seven tries desperately to “fix” his sister, Morning, who has understandably withdrawn inside herself. With acerbic wit and a bitchy vibe, the two move through life erecting walls around themselves so that they can’t be hurt by anything or anyone else—until Morning meets Renzy at her group meeting. What will begin as a strange attraction and attempt to discover why Renzy refuses to speak becomes a road trip to the past from which no one will return unscathed. Along the way, Morning will find her strength, Seven will nearly fall apart, and Renzy will uncover terrifying secrets that have been locked inside him for years.
The power of this novel lays in the absolute honesty of the characters. There is no way to sugar coat what happened to these kids and it is because of some very bold yet effective writing that this story takes flight and never lands until anyone reading it is absolutely breathless and spent, much like the characters themselves. Those who find physical abuse and rape triggering should tread lightly when it comes to this book. While the authors don’t rub our noses in the actual events, the reliving of those moments by these kids is horrifyingly real. If you are able to reach beyond that aspect, I can assure you that the journey is worth the cost. The strength and courage both Renzy and Morning find within themselves to move forward from such devastating circumstances is gorgeous to experience.
Sound of Silence is Young Adult writing at its finest. With little to no sex on the page and a story that will hit home for so many teenagers, the beauty that rises from the ashes of these three broken lives is stunning. Renzy, Morning, and Seven epitomize strong and loving friendship that draws heavily on the idea that you must want to heal in order to take the first step. Once you begin on that journey, this novel assures you that you will never be alone—someone will be there to catch you should you fall and that is perhaps the most important lesson of all.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.