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Romance and other things

Really enjoyed this one

Silent - Sara Alva

REVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT REVIEWS BY JESSEWAVE WHERE I RECEIVED THE
BOOK AS FREE REVIEWING COPY

I almost stopped reviewing coming of age YA
books not because I stopped enjoying the subgenre, but because at some point I
started to feel that my reviews had too much similar wording. I understand that
to some degree it is inevitable because teenagers searching and finding their
identity, realizing who they are, what they want from life is what these books
are about (to me anyway), however I felt that I needed to take a break from
those reviews.

I could not however pass up the chance to review this
book, because I really liked the first book by this author (I think it was her
first, I am not absolutely sure) which I reviewed here. I have to say that I
liked this one much better and not just because I thought that her writing
seemed more mature in this book. I think one of the reasons why I loved this
book so much is because in a sense it rebels against constraints of the trope
writing. As much as I liked " Social skills" , the first thought which comes to
my mind when I think about this book is "oh, this is about nerd and jock" and
then I start thinking about the wonderful characters that story has. "Silent" is
of course a "coming of age YA" and firmly belongs in this genre, but I am not
sure that the author used any specific trope in this one. I thought she was just
writing about one amazing teenager who matured so much throughout the book and
another teenager who he fell in love with, I thought she put them in the
settings which were sadly too recognizable to me and gave us hope that the
person can overcome almost anything that life will throw at them.

Alex
was such a great character - yes bad things happen to him and I wanted to
strangle certain people in his life when I was reading, but I thought the way he
dealt with life's troubles was different from so many teenagers that I have read
about before. I do not mean that his way was necessary better, especially since
it was clear that for all his supposed self reliance and attempt to look at the
world in the defiant way he was a fifteen year old who really needed people in
his life who cared for him, but as a character in the book he was very
interesting and refreshing to me. Alex's voice was engaging and made me want to
finish this book without putting the book down even once.

As I said
previously what I really appreciated in the book was Alex' character arc. I wish
every character would grew up and matured by the end of the book in such
believable way that Alex did. I mean, he finds love, yes, but he also realizes
early enough in the book that the world does not revolve around him and even
though he endured much during his life, a lot of kids which he got to know also
had a lot of pain to overcome and I liked how his empathy got stronger
throughout the story. Also closer to the end of the book Alex makes an important
decision to act on behalf of somebody else's and I have to tell you, I am not
sure if I had a strength to do that.

"Hey." She tapped my hand with her
pencil. "Sorry, I wasn't trying to attack you. And it's not just you. Brandon
wants to go back, too."

I looked over and saw the fear in her eyes and
realized once again that the world didn't revolve around me.

"I thought
he said his mom was gonna go to rehab so she'd be able to take care of
him."

"Yeah." Latoni's voice sharpened with sarcasm. "Don't suppose he
mentioned it'd be her fourth try."

"Oh." I rested my head in my hand,
propping myself up with an elbow. "No, he didn't. Actually, I don't really know
much about anyone in the house."

"Too busy being all sorry for yourself,"
she responded".

As an aside of the sorts, I really liked that this story
does not portray foster care as something evil, because I cannot tell you how
much I am tired about reading in many stories that as a part of the character's
horrible childhood he was going between many foster homes where foster parents
were so horrible that they were evil pretty much. No, foster care is not a
perfect arrangement, of course good family is always better, but I feel that
some people should never have become parents because of what horrors they did to
their kids and some kids sadly need a place to stay because of that and people
who may care. Foster parents in this book are not perfect at all, but they
absolutely tried and social workers were not perfect either but they tried as
well. In that sense this book was a breath of fresh air - I do not have any
personal connection to foster care or social worker by the way, just a topic I
happen to feel strongly about. I am getting off my soap box now.

While in
foster care Alex meets a boy named Seb (Sebastian) who does not talk and kids
call him "retarded". Seb does not do anything to disabuse them of the idea that
he has mental problems, but he and Alex eventually become friends. I really
think that telling you anything more about the plot of the story will be going
in the spoilerish territory, so I want to discuss the main characters some
more.

Since Alex is the narrator of the story we see Seb through his eyes
and I was actually debating with myself as to how well we get to know Seb
without getting his thoughts. Initially I was thinking that the writer did not
succeed quite well in that area and that we really needed to be in Seb's head
because he could not talk and we could not get to know him as a person. But then
I started to wonder because the more story progressed, the better mental picture
of who Seb was emerged in my mind. So I was wondering that maybe this was
deliberate - the more Alex got to know Seb, the better readers get to know him
through Alex's eyes and more importantly *with* Alex.

The love story
between these two was so powerful and strong that I had absolutely no problem
believing that two sixteen year olds will stay together all their life - this
does not always happen in YA books and I do not think this should always happen
in YA books. I think teenagers have lots of time to figure out who will be their
once and forever love and if this will happen outside of the pages of the book I
am personally completely okay with that, but in this book their love just rang
so true to me that when Seb says (does not mean that I am revealing a spoiler
that he is talking by the end of the book necessarily. You have to read and find
out ;) ) "You are my family" I just completely bought it.

I wanted to
scream "I told you so!" and jump up and down and point with those game-show-host
arms used to unveil a grand prize... but then I remembered that this moment
wasn't supposed to be about me.

The secondary characters in this book
were all amazing - kids in the foster home, adults around Alex, they all
struggle, try to be happy, they are all diverse characters - in fact I have not
seen such diverse cast in a book for quite some time, another reason why reading
this book was such a pleasure.

Highly recommended.