When the new Minister of Education cracks down in her school, eliminating personal expression and independent thought, Marena decides she has to fight back. Fueled by her memories and animated by her mother’s spirit, Marena forms a resistance group–the White Rose. With little more than words, Marena defies the state officers lurking around every corner, and embarks on a campaign of life-affirming civil disobedience.
The Silenced draws on the true story of Sophie Scholl and the White Rose, a movement that courageously resisted the Nazis. In an era when new technologies are accompanied by increasing surveillance, this is a powerfully relevant story of the enormous change that is possible when one person is courageous enough to speak the truth to power.
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Marena hurried down the street, past the long stretch of identical home units, the winter air needling her awake. Outside the open perimeter gate a green YTF bus sat huffing its exhaust into the chilly morning. Marena quickened her pace, trying to zipper her coat between strides. An electric bell buzzed, and the tall gate shuddered, creaked, and began to inch its way closed. She broke into a run, waving her journey permit over her head and shouting at the blank-faced Stof in the guardhouse, "I'm here! I'm here!" He didn't stop the gate. "Hold up. I'm right here!"
The thin doors of the bus closed, and its hulking frame clunked into gear. Marena sprinted the last few steps, scooted sideways through the gate, and held her permit up for the Stof to see.
He stared at her with dead eyes and waved her through.
The bus braked to a stop, the doors flapped open, and Marena climbed up the thick rubber steps. She pressed her hand into the digiprint, which flashed blue. The driver let her pass, and she headed down the aisle.
Sitting in the front seats to her left were a couple of nukes—newly culled kids whose parents had recently been convicted of crimes against the state. Marena knew what a joke the cullings were. All the big legal words—inherited guilt, associative responsibility, the Filial Internment Act—were just a bunch of lies made up by the Zero Tolerance Party. It was how the ZTs made it legal to arrest anyone for anything at all: wrong color, wrong religion, wrong ideas.
There were two nukes this month, and Marena nodded to them as she passed. Afrightened-looking girl, about fourteen, clutching a clear plastic book bag, nodded back. The other, an older boy, looked at Marena quickly and then stared front again. Redheaded, thin and freckled, he looked like he was trying to act cool, but Marena noticed his foot tapping nervously beneath the seat in front of him. She would have liked to sit with them and tell them it really wasn't that bad, that they'd get used to things after a few months; she'd have liked to tell them which students at the youth training facility were safe and which were listeners, or who the nice instructors of public enlightenment were, or how to sneak out after curf and scavenge without getting caught, but she knew she couldn't take the chance. It was so hard to know whom to trust that it was easier not to trust anyone.
Marena continued down the aisle. To her right, the JJ-Girls—Jennifer, Heather, and Michele—stopped comparing the latest jewelry they'd scrounged and looked up. Marena turned her back to Jennifer's whispered insults and walked past her. Behind Jennifer, Franky "Pug-face" Poyer stuck his ugly puss into the aisle. Marena pushed by him and smiled at Dex, who was in the back row, saving her a seat. Dex had been a part of her relocation group after they'd been culled from their homes and assigned to the Spring Valley Re-Dap Community.
Marena flopped beside Dex, barely keeping the required foot of distance between them. They touched hands quickly.
"Hey," Dex whispered, ignoring the no-talking rule. Like ventriloquists, he and almost everyone at the YTF had learned to talk while barely moving their lips.
"Hey," Marena whispered back, staring at the ceiling.
"Nothing. Just my dad being a jerk again."
The bus pulled away from the compound and gathered speed, skimming silently along what had once been country roads winding through the lush farmland of Spring Valley. The farms were dead now, and the roads were flat black asphalt, cutting straight across the barren fields.
Dex turned to Marena. "You get in okay last night?"
"Yeah. What about you?"
She wriggled out of her coat, leaning into Dex longer than she should have. He pressed back, and she knew he too was enjoying the stolen moment of closeness.
"Wake me when we're there," he whispered.
Marena smiled, wondering if he felt as safe as she did when they were together. She twisted around and looked out the back window, watching the vast tracts of ruined cropland spill out behind the bus. Whatever had once thrived in the rich soil of Spring Valley was long dead. Weeds, wilted dark from the coming cold, blanketed the wasteland, and a black frost glinted under the early-morning sun.
Marena squinted at the odd beauty of it, wondering why the sun would even choose to rise on such a place as this. She tried to count the shadowy lines of old furrows ghosted beneath the weeds, but they flickered by too fast. A tree, overlooked somehow in the ravagings, still stood in one field. Scattered around its trunk lay most of its leaves, blazing in autumn reds and crimson-yellows. They looked almost fake, they were so beautiful, like someone had dumped out a box of paper cutouts. A few early flecks of snow flitted down.
A faint image came to Marena, something she'd seen before. . . . White, something white. Just a glimpse, then gone. A snowman? she thought. No, no, it was moving. Clouds? She turned front, keeping an eye on the bus driver, and slid down in her seat. She snuck her hand into a hidden seam of her coat and eased out a small stapling of scrap paper she'd stolen from art class.
Dex saw the paper and shook his head. He hadn't been sleeping at all.
Marena tapped her eyebrow twice, signaling Dex to keep watch and then leaned over as if to tie her shoe. She slid out the small stub of a pencil she'd hidden in the cuff of her pants and, staying low behind the seat back, started to write, but the image was no longer there. She looked out the window again. Sometimes she had to trick her memories into showing themselves, cold-shoulder them a little.
It came again.The Silenced. Copyright © by James DeVita. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.