(Image from Barnes & Noble)
Stella Layne has always been known as the girl with The Voice. Ever since kindergarten, the 15-year-old has stunned people with her singing. For shy Stella, it's become a pathway to fitting in, finding her place. Something she desperately needs now as she deals with both her parents' divorce and a move that lands her in a new high school. But, just as she's using her talent to make herself known, a freak accident steals one of her most precious possessions—her hearing. Without it, Stella can't hear herself speak, let alone sing. The accident has not just robbed her of the starring role in the upcoming school musical, but also of her lifelong goal of singing on Broadway.
Destroyed by the demolition of all her dreams, the last thing Stella wants to hear is that everything is going to be okay. And yet, that's exactly what Hayden Rivers is trying to tell her. With his movie star looks, the 17-year-old would probably be the most popular guy in school if it weren't for his persistent stutter. Stella doesn't care about that—she's been drawn to him ever since she first saw him. So, when he challenges her to give him 17 days to show her all the things she can do without her hearing, she takes him up on it.
As Stella steps outside her own grief, she realizes that there's more to Hayden than she ever could have imagined. And that there's no one with whom she'd rather spend her time. With an operation that could restore Stella's hearing fast approaching, both teens worry that it will change them, change the relationship they've built ever since Stella's accident. Will Hayden's attention wane if she no longer needs his pity? Will Stella turn her back on the boy who stutters if her life goes returns to normal and she doesn't need him anymore? Can the two damaged teens find their happily ever after?
Silence, a new contemporary YA novel from actress/singer/songwriter/lawyer Deborah Lytton, is a clean, compelling novel about one girl's journey to find herself when she thinks everything that defines her is lost forever. A quick read, Silence was engrossing enough to keep me turning pages, if not racing through them. That being said, there are some big things in this book that drove me batty. Stella, for one. Her obvious pain garnered my sympathy—for a time. After awhile, though, her absorption with her own suffering bugged. I liked Hayden, who spent all his time trying to help other people despite his own trials, much better. Stella also seemed a little aimless since her only concrete goal—making it to Broadway—was so far-off. Prose-wise, Silence got very tell-y (as opposed to, you know, show-y), which made it feel overwritten and melodramatic. So, while I appreciated that it told a clean, inspirational story (which isn't easy to find in teen lit), Silence's irritating heroine and lackadaisical writing turned me off this one. In the end, then, I found it to be just an average, okay read.
(Readalikes: Reminds me a little of Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler and When the Black Girl Sings by Bil Wright)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for intense situations
To the FTC, with love: I received an ARC of Silence from the generous folks at Shadow Mountain. Thank you!