Silence by Deborah Lytton
"Stella was born to sing. Someday Broadway. Even though she's only a sophomore at a new high school, her voice has given her the status as a "cool kid." But then a tragic accident renders her deaf. She can't hear herself sing not to mention speak. She can't hear anything. Silence What happens when everything you've dreamed of and hoped for is shattered in a single moment? Enter Hayden, the boy with blond curls who stutters. He's treated like an outcast because he's not "normal." And, yet, Stella feels an attraction to him that she can't explain. As Hayden reaches out to help Stella discover a world without sound, his own tragic past warns him to keep a distance. But their connection is undeniable. Can the boy who stutters and the girl who's deaf ever find a happily-ever-after? Silence is a story of friendship and hope with a lesson that sometimes a tragedy can help us find beauty and love in unexpected places."
I enjoyed this book! I was a little annoyed at the beginning because Ms. Lytton's writing style is very different. She uses a. lot. of. short. sentences. A lot. Many of the sentences are not actually sentences, but fragments of sentences. It was annoying at first, but then as I got into the story I didn't notice it as much. The characters in this book are well developed. They are high school students, so there is some "high school" talk, but a lot of it is actually quite insightful. Both Stella and Hayden experience a lot of growth and learning about themselves and each other in this book. They learn to trust, to hope, and to let go of preconceived notions. They learn to look at the world differently. I love the messages in this book. I love the lesson of not letting your experiences defeat you, but learning and growing from them. One thing that was a little difficult for me to get past sometimes was their age. Stella is only 15, and Hayden is only 17. Many of us adults know that "teenage love" is very different from a long, lasting, forever relationship. I'm not saying it's impossible, but many teens think it is, and later find out that it is not. So, it would be interesting to read a sequel to this book and see what happens to them in the future. I think just a few years older would have made their insights and depth more believable in some parts. I did like that their relationship started as a friendship and grew from there. I don't want my kids to be that involved in high school, but I know it happens. I want them focusing on learning and preparing for college, and going on dates with lots of friends. However, I did enjoy the story. I finished it in a weekend, and couldn't put it down at the end. It was a little predictable, but such a sweet love story.
Another great thing about this book is that it is clean! Yes! Thank you! There is no profanity and no "intimacy." There might be a few stolen kisses, but it doesn't go more than that. They both actually attend church and pray occasionally, so there is a little bit of a religious theme. There is some domestic violence and abuse, and it's hard to read. The abuse is bad, but it involves hitting, cutting, hurting, and broken bones. There isn't any sexual abuse. There are only a few times that it goes more in depth with it, the other times you know it's there but don't know the details.
Rating: PG 13 (Domestic violence and abuse involving hitting, cutting, hurting, and broken bones.)
Recommendation: 13 and up. It is YA approved. (I have a 13 year-old son, and I am ok with him reading this. I will be discussing it with him, though. I think it will be a good opportunity to talk about abuse and the horrible consequences it has. I will not allow my 11 year-old son to read it quite yet.)
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.