Saturday, 20 July 2013

Ethan's Voice, by Rachel Carter

Ethan’s Voice is the touching story of a young boy who has become trapped in his own world after he stopped speaking four years ago. His life revolves around mum, dad, and the canal on which he lives. He has no friends, became home schooled after he could no longer stand the teasing at school, and communicates only through nods and shakes of his head.

Why did he stop talking? It’s been so long now that he can’t even remember the reason; all he knows is that not talking is not a choice, it’s a physical act that he can no longer perform. He is too scared even to write things in a notebook. But when Polly moves to the canal Ethan finds in her someone who accepts him for who he is, someone who doesn’t question him or force him or tease him, someone whom he can call friend. And for Polly, Ethan decides that he wants to be able to talk; he wants to be able to ask her questions and be able to tell her things, to make her laugh. But first he must find out why he stopped talking in the first place. Is he brave enough?

This is a gentle story written for 9-12 year-olds, though just as pleasurable and revealing to read as an adult. Ethan is afraid of the world, but as little clues to his past appear, instead of trying to shut them out, to run from them, he tracks them down and faces them head on, no matter how much it scares him. And, when he thinks he has found the truth, what will he do with it? Can he tell? A story about the power of friendship, it’s also a not-so-subtle reminder that children see more than we think they do and while, more often than not, they also understand more than we might think they do, misinterpretation is also dreadfully easy and can have terrible results. Rachel Carter’s book deserves to join the ranks of titles such as Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time for its insight and cross-over potential.

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