Monday, May 27, 2013

reading notes, entry 4...

Silent to the Bone by E.L. Konigsburg.

Why I read it now:

Because I love Konigsburg's books, especially The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, which was one of my very favorite books as a kid. Seriously, the amount of time I spent daydreaming that I lived in a museum after reading that book for the first time = A LOT. Plus it fits the broad medical/psychological issues theme month.

Overall thoughts:

Okay, right up front--the use of the femme fatale trope annoyed me. But now that that's been said, I have to admit that I still loved this book. I loved the things it had to say about friendship and about family and about communication and about silence.

Thirteen-year-olds Branwell and Connor have been friends since nursery school, though as of late there has been a change, a strain on their relationship. And Connor doesn't exactly know why Bran is pulling away.

But when Branwell ends up in a behavioral unit unable to speak, there is no hesitation on Connor's part--he is there for Branwell. Nikki, Branwell's infant sister, is in the hospital in a coma. What happened is the question. The au pair says Branwell dropped her, but Branwell has said nothing. Connor believes in his friend--believes he did nothing to harm Nikki, and just as importantly, believes his muteness is real, not an act.

The way Connor stuck by his friend, never gave up trying to find the real story, was wonderful, yes, but it was also realistic. There were times he felt frustrated and times he felt under-appreciated. But his love and respect for his friend always won out.

Favorite character:

Margaret, Connor's much older half-sister. She was smart, and a bit of a smart-ass. Still, after all these many years, harboring hurt feelings when it comes to her father leaving her mother for Connor's mother, she has never held it against Connor. Margaret's and Connor's relationship is filled with not just love, but respect and trust, and I pretty much loved every scene where they were together.

New-to-me words:

peruke--a type of wig for men, fashionable in the 17th and 18th centuries

Quotes I loved:

"Since Branwell's silence, I've thought a lot about listening, and I've decided it is an art. Just as our English teacher told us you can put too many adverbs and adjectives into a sentence--it's called overwriting--you can put too many meanings into a statement. I call it overlistening." (p. 180)

"Waiting takes up a lot more energy than people give it credit for." (p. 208)

"No one said anything, and even though I thought I had gotten quite used to silence, this one had a peculiar ache.
Tina pulled back the blanket that had been shielding Nikki's face from the cold, and Nikki looked up and smiled at Branwell, and the silence suddenly seemed musical." (p. 260)


Vasilly said...

Now I want to know what happens at the end! :-) I've never read any of Konigsburg's work before. Will change that soon. There is something to be said about listening being an art. It seems like nowadays people don't listen enough to each other.

Debi said...

I do hope you get a chance to read something by her one of these days. I really enjoyed The View from Saturday too.

Ali said...

I need to read this!!! Adding it to my holds list right now.