The Quality of Silence, Rosamund Lupton

The perfect book to snuggle up with this winter – this month’s must read!

Although The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton had been on my shelf for a while, I wanted to wait until the winter to read it because its setting is quintessentially wintry.

The novel follows Yasmin and her ten-year-old daughter, Ruby, who arrive at an Alaskan airport to meet Ruby’s father, a no show.  He was staying in the village of Anaktue, an Inupiat (Native American tribe) settlement in the far northern tundra.  But there are reports of a fire having occurred in the village.  There were 23 residents of the settlement and 24 bodies have been recovered.  Yasmin firmly believes her husband is alive, despite what police are telling her.  So she sets off with Ruby on what will be a cold, difficult and brutal journey.  Ruby, who has been deaf since birth, will have to rely on her mother to help brave the darkness where sight cannot help her in search of her father.  But somebody out there is determined to stop them.  Somebody tracking them through the dark.

I loved the setting of this novel because it was described so vividly.  Lupton provides the reader with everything an Alaskan tundra has: snow, ice, freezing temperatures and biting winds that literally freeze Yasmin’s and Ruby’s tears.  You are constantly informed of how low the temperature falls and whenever I read that the thermometer displayed minus 50 degrees, a cold shiver would run down my spine.

The book alternates between the perspectives of Yasmin and Ruby.  What is really interesting about this oscillation of viewpoints is that, despite Yasmin and Ruby experiencing the same things, they read and understand situations very differently from each other, particularly because Yasmin is an adult and Ruby is a child.  However, despite Ruby’s youth and innocence, she seems much older than ten because she is capable of comprehending circumstances and calmly accepting them.  Her undying positivity and resilience really warms the reader’s heart.

It is fascinating for the reader to read a novel from the point of view of a deaf individual, particularly if they have never encountered such a book before.  Since the setting is so dark, light becomes so much more of a necessity for Ruby because she is only able to communicate by sign language.  This particular perspective enhanced by understanding of how a hearing-impaired person sees the world and subsequently, this enables the reader to view the narrative setting in a way that is parallel to this.

The plot was tense and I was on the edge of my seat with fear of Yasmin and Ruby’s unidentified follower.  There is a constant uncertainty in the reader’s mind as to whether Yasmin’s husband, Matt, is alive.  Although I was a slightly disappointed towards the end as it was a little deflated for me, there is a surprise revelation relating to another aspect of the storyline.  There is a big uncovering of a wider picture and the tension is soon heightened again right up until the last page.

Overall, The Quality of Silence is the perfect winter read, with its bitterly cold setting and nail-biting plot.  It also provides unique insight into the life of a deaf individual, where their mode of communication depends entirely on their ability to see.

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