On 24th November Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrived in Alaska.
Within hours, they were driving alone across a frozen wilderness
Where nothing grows
Where no one lives
Where tears freeze
And night will last for another 54 days.
They are looking for Ruby’s father.
Traveling deeper into a silent land.
They still cannot find him.
And someone is watching them in the dark.
Imagine you’ve married your college sweetheart. You have a beautiful daughter and she is incredibly smart. You’re an astrophysicist and your husband is a wildlife biologist and film-maker. Now imagine your husband has left the United Kingdom to film in northern Alaska. You and your daughter have traveled thousands of miles to spend the winter holidays in Alaska with him. You arrive only to be told that your husband is dead in a freak accident. This is the foundation for The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton.
Yasmin had a troubled childhood, but channeled her frustrations into her school work and has become an astrophysicist. She dated Matt in college, and even though she never truly believed he loved or saw her for who she truly is, she married him. Their daughter, Ruby, is deaf and an extremely intelligent child that is mainstreamed into the regular school system at Yasmin’s insistence. Yasmin doesn’t want her daughter to ever feel like an outsider without a voice and strongly encourages Ruby to use her verbal skills. Ruby is quite insistent that by using sign language she is actually using her voice, just not the voice her mother wants her to use. Matt wants Ruby to be happy and fully supports her use of sign language. Yasmin, Matt, and Ruby are quite the happy family until Matt goes off to Alaska and appears to fall for a woman there. Yasmin is incensed and hurt. She also knows that she has to confront Matt face-to-face, not on a phone or via Skype. After arriving in Alaska, Yasmin is told that Matt is dead. Neither Yasmin nor Ruby is willing to accept this proclamation. Yasmin only recourse is to head north and find Matt. She tries to find transportation to take them to northern Alaska and ultimately persuades an independent trucker to give them a ride north. When the trucker suffers a stroke, Yasmin commandeers his truck to continue their trek. She has to fight the elements, namely a massive storm coming in and below freezing temperatures, as well as driving in unfamiliar territory and a massive vehicle for the first time. If that wasn’t bad enough, it appears that someone is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure Yasmin and Ruby don’t make it to their destination. Can Yasmin and Ruby beat the clock, the weather, and their nemesis to make it north? Will they ever find out what has happened to Matt?
I found The Quality of Silence to be a fast-paced, engrossing, and enjoyable read. There were parts of the story that strained credulity, such as Yasmin being able to drive a tractor trailer with a massive load in unfamiliar territory during the middle of a snowstorm in frigid temperatures. But once I let that go (people can do amazing things in trying situations), I was able to fully enjoy the story. There are good guys, not-so-good guys, and really bad guys in this story. Unfortunately, the bad guys seem to be wearing gray hats most of the time so it is unclear who’s bad and who’s not (one of the many things that I liked about the story). Ruby is probably my favorite character. She’s quite comfortable with her deafness and proud that she’s different. One of her differences is her synesthesia or ability to see and taste words. Ruby provides us with brief definitions of words based on what words see and taste like to her and these are interspersed throughout the story. Ms. Lupton provides some wonderful assistive devices for Ruby and these come in quite handy over the course of the story (read it and you’ll understand). The Quality of Silence is a taut psychological thriller that provides as many twists and turns as the road leading Yasmin and Ruby to northern Alaska. The wintry environs of Alaska provide a beautiful if somewhat hostile background for the story and is just as important as the primary characters. If you enjoy reading psychological thrillers or are seeking something a little different to read, then I strongly urge you to grab a copy of The Quality of Silence.
Read an excerpt from The Quality of Silence here.
Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”