Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Quality of Silence

This weekend I finished reading Rosamund Lupton’s latest novel, The Quality of Silence.

From the publisher: "The Quality of Silence is the story of Yasmin, a beautiful astrophysicist, and her precocious deaf daughter, Ruby, who arrive in a remote part of Alaska to be told that Ruby's father, Matt, has been the victim of a catastrophic accident. Unable to accept his death as truth, Yasmin and Ruby set out into the hostile winter of the Alaskan tundra in search of answers. But as a storm closes in, Yasmin realizes that a very human danger may be keeping pace with them. And with no one else on the road to help, they must keep moving, alone and terrified, through an endless Alaskan night."

I’m torn as to my feelings on the book. I loved the descriptions of the Alaskan tundra and the bitter realities of this beautiful yet harsh land (24-hour darkness and -55° temps), the environmental topics highlighted and made part of the conversation, as well as the character of Ruby and her inherent innocence and bravery. In fact, one of the best parts of the book is Lupton’s incredibly moving depiction of Ruby’s deafness, her sense of isolation, and some of the ingenious ways in which she’s been able to cope in the hearing world; like how she correlates sounds to words and/or feelings (“Noise– Looks like flashing signs, neon-bright”).

Sadly, I found myself left cold (no pun intended) by Yasmin; both in her relationship with Ruby (at least at the start of the book) and the recklessness of her actions. She’s described as a brilliant woman, an astrophysicist no less, but turn after turn she endangers her daughter’s life, belying her intelligence; and in turn forcing readers to suspend their disbelief in order to truly embrace the chilling tale. Overall, I’d say The Quality of Silence was a good read, whose potential greatness was diminished by its slightly slow pace and the protagonist’s unrealistic actions, though still worthy of making your To Be Read pile.