Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Voiceless - Review

Title: Voiceless
AuthorCaroline Wissing
Release Date: March 30, 2012
Format/Page Count: Paperback/240 pages
Publisher: Thistledown Press
PurchasedBlue Heron Books 

Synopsis Annabel Cross, nicknamed Ghost, hasn’t spoken a word since she witnessed Granny’s brutal murder two years earlier. However, at 15, Ghost has found a kind of peace at a foster home on a farm with other unwanted teens, including her closest friend Tully, who has dwarfism. But Graydon Fox arrives and Ghost falls hard for his good looks and intriguing combination of vulnerability and aloofness.

When Ghost’s mother is released from a drug rehab centre, she moves clear across the country to begin a new life—without Ghost. Devastated by her mother’s betrayal, Ghost overlooks Tully and turns to Graydon, meeting him nightly in the hayloft after curfew. One night the stable catches fire and, worried she’ll be blamed, Ghost agrees to run away with Graydon. While they flee along a dark stretch of road, a car pulls up and the driver, Cooper, offers them a ride. Cooper gives Ghost and Graydon refuge in his city apartment, but his offer comes at a price. After she realizes how Cooper expects her to earn her keep, and Graydon’s role in the plot, she has little choice. Rather than remain in the apartment as a sex slave, she must run and risk her life surviving on Ottawa’s streets in winter, mute and alone. (From GOODREADS)
Expectation: I know the author. I met Caroline at Absolute Write. We have since met in person at the Ontario Writers' Conference, on several occasions. My caveat here would be that I am a personal friend of the author, but that in no way biases my review. I had HIGH expectations for Voiceless because, 1) I loved the was unique and 2) I know the high quality of writing that Wissing outputs...having read one of her previous manuscripts.
Market/Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary
Favourite Quote: 'I believe we just wanted to crawl into the children we'd never had the chance to be.'

Voiceless is a gripping story. From the moment the reader is introduced to the non-talking narrator, and the group of foster children in her company, they will be drawn to discover what becomes of this band of misfits. There is, first and foremost, Annabel, our narrator. She is also known as Ghost, a name given to her by her beloved foster mother, Mary. The other children are a sorry cast of unwanteds that includes a hooker (Char), a little person (Tully), a native (Jerome) and a mystery boy who appears at the story’s onset…a mystery boy whom Ghost is drawn to like a moth to a flame. Even his name is exotic—Graydon.

From the beginning, we see an intricate inner world through the eyes of our non-speaking narrator. She is thoughtful, caring…good. She is also lost in a world where her mother chooses drugs and the wild life over her. Ghost reflects on her early childhood with her grandmother…and from these reflections we realize the extent of the trauma she has suffered in her life. But at her foster home with Mary and Bobby, she finds a kind of peace. Her foster mother not only has a heart big enough to shelter the misfit children in her life, but she also extends that shelter to include the neglected and forgotten horses of the world. It is the horses that bring out a passion in Ghost…especially her love for the sway-backed Jett.

From the moment Graydon Fox appears at Noble Spirit Farm, Ghost is intrigued. It is just a matter of time before Graydon zeros in on her—possibly just as intrigued with Ghost’s inability to speak. The reader gets a sense that, as mysterious and bad-boy as Graydon appears, he also has redeeming qualities. He is nice and gentle to Ghost. But there is never a moment where the reader won’t let their guard down. Something will niggle at them throughout the story—a warning not to take their eye off the boy. It’s remarkable how well Wissing weaves this notion into the story. Even when he is at his best with Ghost, there is still that warning. Watch out.

After an ‘accident’ on the farm, Ghost agrees to flee Noble Spirit with Graydon. Things start to unravel from there. As a reader, I so wanted Graydon to redeem himself. As the warning flags became more flagrant, there was still that sense that he really did care for Ghost…that he just didn’t know how to undo what he had already put into motion. Was he a good kid drawn into bad circumstances? I devoured this book in my need to know the outcome. And though it felt near the end that certain loose ends were being bow-tied…it never took away from the story’s flow. I was satisfied from the first word to the last. Ghost and Graydon, and the rest of the sad-sack crew that made up the ensemble of foster kids on Noble Spirit, will haunt you long after you finish reading VOICELESS.

Wissing’s use of language is impeccable. Simply put, she has a beautiful way with words. Combine this with her ability to weave such a unique story of sadness and overcoming and you have an instant classic—Voiceless will be one of those books you just know you’ll want to revisit time and again. The maturity of Wissing’s lyrical prose boosts it beyond its market of YA…to that of literary. But it’s a story with mass appeal. It’s a unique combination when a story can transcend its niche and crossover into multiple categories of interest. I think Voiceless does this. Though written for the young adult audience, it would certainly speak to any reader who picks it up. This is a book you will want to read. I guarantee satisfaction.

Expectation was met and exceeded. Annabel is with me still...what a great female character. Such understated strength! Met & exceeded!

Size: 5

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