Pub. Date: February 16, 2016
Source: finished copy via publisher (Thank you, Crown!)
Summary: 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. Travelling deeper into a silent land. They still cannot find him. And someone is watching them in the dark.
Genre: Contemporary, Thriller
I’m a big, big fan of thrillers and when I had the opportunity to read this one I instantly jumped at the chance! Yasmin and Ruby, her 10-year-old daughter, board a plane from London and head to Alaska where Matt has been filming the wildlife. Though the family planned on spending Christmas together (Ruby’s very excited to learn some of the native Inupiaq signs – because of the subzero temperatures, speaking can get pretty tricky so the tribe developed a version of sign language) their arrival is met with terrible news: the village where Matt had been staying suffered a massive fire and there were no survivors.
Naturally Yasmin refuses to believe the officers – even when they hand her Matt’s wedding ring. Because Ruby is deaf, she’s spared the brunt of the news, though she knows something isn’t right, especially when Yasmin starts asking truck drivers for a ride to the village, several hundred miles away. Eventually the pair end up totally and completely on their own, tearing over the frozen landscape in a monstrous vehicle, heading straight into a snowstorm…and someone has been following them.
Though this book isn’t horror, there’s a very real and terrifying sense of aloneness that immediately brought to mind Stephen King. What could possible be scarier than finding yourself inching along across hundreds of miles of an empty expanse, knowing you can only have the heater on for ten minutes every hour, where your tears freeze your eyes shut, where a hurricane-like snowstorm plows through, temperatures are dramatically dropping to the -50s, and the only thing visible is a pair of headlights trailing along in the distance – keeping perfect pace, speeding and slowing as needed. Worst of all, someone has been sending e-mails with photos of dead animals. Horrifying, right? In Ruby’s case, she can’t hear a single thing either. This nightmare fuel had me turning the pages like crazy!
The Quality of Silence isn’t all cold and frozen, however! Ruby is possibly one of my all-time favorite characters. She was an absolute joy to get to know, positive and bubbly, and just plain funny. She doesn’t feel that her deafness holds her back and instead worries over things other 10-years-olds fret about: her best friend isn’t her best friend anymore, she’ll be starting secondary school soon and her dad’s nickname for her (puggle) now seems too babyish so they’ll have to come up with a new one. Throughout the novel she tweets about words and what they feel like to her: excitement, for example, feels like “the thud-bump as a plane lands” and her dad’s big furry parka. Awesome-sauce-beautiful is “a lemonade sea w/ fizzing waves.” I loved this inside look into her thoughts and discovered such an amazing world inside her mind. One thing that really stuck out for me about Ruby was how she dreaded the thought of using her “mouth voice.” Yasmin has been attempting to get Ruby to speak vocally and when Ruby finally gives her reason for not wanting to…oh man, I wanted to scoop her up and give her the biggest hug.
When The Quality of Silence pulled everything together, I was stunned. Rosamund Lupton is an author I’ve come across before but have never read until now and I’m kicking myself! Sister and Afterwards are now on my To Read list and I couldn’t be more excited! This novel was nothing short of FANTASTIC and it was just a really satisfying read. I recently read another novel set in Alaska, The Smell of Other People’s Houses and the two couldn’t be more different. In The Quality of Silence there was a very real, very terrifying sense of hopelessness and even sitting all snuggly warm in my house, I couldn’t stop the panic from welling up inside me chest. Bravo, Ms. Lupton!