Speak No Evil

Speak No Evil

by Liana Gardner

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Overview

TRUTH IS THE HARBINGER OF HELL

What if every time you told the truth, evil followed?

My name is Melody Fisher. My daddy was a snake handler in Appalachia until Mama died. Though years have passed, I can still hear the rattle before the strike that took her from me.

And it's all my fault.

Since then, I've been passed around from foster home to foster home. I didn't think anything could be as bad as losing Mama.

I was wrong.

But I will not speak of things people have done to me. Every time I do, worse evil follows. Now, the only thing I trust is what saved me years ago.

Back when I would sing the snakes calm...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781944109363
Publisher: Vesuvian Books
Publication date: 10/01/2019
Edition description: None
Pages: 314
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author


Liana Gardner is the multi-award-winning author of the Misfit McCabe series, 7th Grade Revolution, and The Journal of Angela Ashby. The daughter of a rocket scientist and an artist, Liana combines the traits of both into a quirky yet pragmatic writer and in everything sees the story lurking beneath the surface. Engaged in a battle against leukemia and lymphoma, Liana spends much of her time at home, but allows her imagination to take her wherever she wants to go. She fostered her love of writing after reading Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and discovering she had a great deal in common with the character Jo. The making up of stories, dramatic feelings, and a quick temper were enough for her to know she and Jo would have been kindred spirits. Liana volunteers with high school students through the International Trade Education Programs (ITEP). ITEP unites business people and educators to prepare students for a meaningful place in the world of tomorrow. Working in partnership with industry and educators, ITEP helps young people “think globally and earn locally.” www.LianaGardner.com www.SpeakNoEvilNovel.com

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

December 22, 2014 – Melody, age 15

The door swung open and a broad-shouldered officer pulled a skinny woman toward the front desk by her bony elbow. The officer jerked his thumb toward Melody. "Why isn't she in a holding cell?"

The cop behind the desk looked up from the document he'd been flipping through. "Her social worker is on the way and said she'd raise holy hell if we put her in a holding cell with adults since she's a minor."

The uniformed cop's belt creaked as he shifted his weight. "She stabbed Troy Alexander, for chrissake. Doesn't stabbing a classmate make her a danger to society?"

As if on command, the TV in the lobby switched to breaking news. The reporter stood outside Mercy Hospital.

"Turn it up, I wanna hear this." The officer smoothed the sides of his nearly shaved head. "My little brother played a year or two with Troy, and he said he was one of the best players he's ever known."

The reporter stared at the camera with a subdued expression. "We have received the following update on good authority. Troy Alexander will be released from the hospital shortly. And your best local news team is on the spot ready to bring you up-to-the-minute information."

The TV cut away to a commercial. The woman at the counter cracked her gum. "Really? Some kid getting released from the hospital is breaking news?"

The officer squared his shoulders. "That shows how much you know." He sneered at her. "Troy Alexander is the hottest prospect coming out of Asheville in years. All the college coaches across the nation are drooling over the chance to get him to play for them."

She shrugged. "It's just a game."

The cop's face turned red. "Just a game! I'll have you know ..." He pointed a stubby finger at Melody. "... if she'd hurt him any worse, we'd have to put on extra officers, and take her into protective custody because there'd be a lynch mob forming outside the station."

The news came back on and Troy exited through the double doors. "The doc says I should rehab for a week, but I'll be ready to play in the big game two weeks from now."

Melody turned away and her body shook. She plugged her ears and rocked.

The uniformed officer put his hand on the wall behind Melody and lowered his face to hers. "You're lucky, kid. If his football career had been ruined, the folks around here would want your head on a platter. No amount of whining about being an orphan and the hard life you've had would matter for spit."

The doors swung open again.

"Officer, I believe you should take a step or two back." Miss Prescott hauled her purse to her shoulder. "You wouldn't want to deal with a misconduct charge for intimidation of a minor."

She went straight up to the desk. "You have a room where I can speak with Melody in private?"

The desk cop pulled out a set of keys. "Marv, can you please take them to room six? Although, I don't know what good it'll do. She hasn't made a sound since we brought her in."

Miss Prescott ignored him. "Melody, come on. We have some things to discuss."

Melody followed Miss Prescott and the uniformed cop down the hallway. He opened a door to a small room containing nothing but a table and a couple of chairs inside.

Miss Prescott put her oversized purse on the table with a thunk. She arched a brow over her hazel eyes. "You can close the door on your way out, Officer." She pulled back a chair and sat.

She patted the table. "Come on, Melody. Take a seat. We have a few things to cover." Brushing her red hair out of her eyes with one hand, she rummaged in her purse and pulled out a file folder with the other.

Melody sat and buried her face in her hands.

Miss Prescott reached across the table, touched Melody's arm, and her voice softened. "Don't worry, honey. I've known you for nearly half your life at this point. And I know you would have had a good reason for what you did."

Melody raised her eyes to stare into Miss Prescott's.

"I'm telling you the truth. With all you've gone through in your life with the stoicism of a rock, it breaks my heart to know you had to go through something so awful, you snapped." She opened the folder and pinched the bridge of her nose. "I'm sorry it took me so long to get here, but I had to get as much done as I could during business hours." She flipped through the top few pages. "It took some fast talking, but I convinced the judge juvenile hall or a jail cell would be the worst place for you."

Melody straightened.

"He wouldn't agree to your continuing in the public school system, so you'll have to be homeschooled." She blew a pesky strand of hair out of the way. It floated up and settled back in the same place. "The next hurdle was your current foster placement. As soon as they heard the news, they contacted me to say they would no longer have you stay under their roof."

Melody stared past Miss Prescott's shoulder at the patch on the wall where the paint had peeled. The paint had faded so much, the missing strip barely showed.

"Because they refused to have you come back to their home, I picked up your things. I have them in the car." Her face flushed. "I am very sorry to say several people I contacted had heard the news and flat out refused to take you in. But I did find a temporary placement for you."

Melody rolled her eyes.

Miss Prescott held up her hand. "I know, I know. I've said those words too many times to you. I'm not going to lie ... this time the temporary placement may be long-term. At least until we get this situation straightened out."

She reached across the table again and held Melody's hand. "You haven't said a word for almost two years. Not even in therapy."

Melody's hand trembled.

"Honey, if ever there was a time to talk, now is it."

Melody pulled her hand back from Miss Prescott's grasp and tucked it under her arm to hide the shakes she couldn't control.

"Oh, sweetie." A tear rolled down Miss Prescott's cheek. "We're going to get this taken care of, and I'll be here the whole way for you."

CHAPTER 2

February 23, 2008 – Melody, age 9

Daddy stopped and raised his hand in the air as the sun crested the peak on Grandfather Mountain. The signal for me to follow silently at a distance. He stepped forward through the frosted brush underfoot, making no noise, while I shivered in the early morning chill. My breath made puffy clouds as I exhaled.

A small creek lay ahead on the Nuwati Trail. Daddy said the Nuwati was our best bet because the piles of rocks and fallen tree limbs off the trail were used for shelter. Before he got too far in front of me, I took a step. Dead leaves crunched under my boot.

Daddy's head snapped in my direction and he raised a forefinger to his lips.

My shoulders slumped. I had forgotten to look for leaves. I'd never be able to walk as quietly as he could, no matter how hard I tried. 'Specially in boots.

My first hunt and already I'd messed up. I'd begged him to take me and had to promise to be quiet when we got close.

For one scary moment, I'd thought Mama wasn't gonna let me go. She hadn't been sure she wanted her little girl to go out on a hunt. I'd reminded her I wasn't little. At nine, I was nearly in double digits. But she insisted I'd always be her little Melody.

I concentrated on walking silently, following the steps Daddy had taught me.

Crouch.

Check for leaves.

Sweep any twigs to the side.

Heel first then roll to the toe.

Shift weight forward and repeat.

Looking up, I had to bite my tongue to keep from calling out. I couldn't move fast and quiet at the same time. In a few steps, the brush would swallow Daddy and I wouldn't know where he'd gone.

Wait, Daddy. I'm not with you.

How could he move so fast and so quietly at the same time, especially carrying the heavy diesel tank on his back? I had an empty can and I made a lot more noise.

Fortunately, before he disappeared, he stopped and checked over his shoulder. He waited for me to catch up and I remembered to keep my pace slow so I wouldn't make noise. When I got to within ten paces of him, he moved forward again.

As Daddy rounded a curve, he stopped and held out his hand, palm facing me. The signal for me to stop and wait. I placed the empty can on the ground and gently lowered the handle so it didn't clank against the side. The breeze blew a loose strand of black hair across my cheek. I tucked it behind my ear as I straightened.

Inhaling the musty scent of the fallen leaves, I wanted to remember everything about this day. The way the sunlight shone through naked branches and remaining leaves on the trees. The toasty feeling of huddling inside my coat with a beanie keeping my head and ears warm. Even my frozen fingers and nose.

Daddy reached behind his back for the wand and pointed it toward a black hole in the rocks. He flipped the switch on the tank and pulled the trigger. The liquid sprayed all over the ground and rocks before Daddy stuck the nozzle into the hole. Diesel fumes smothered the woodsy scent in the air.

Snake after snake slithered out of the opening. My eyes opened wide. I'd never seen so many in one place. Some snakes were a grayish-brown with black jagged bands — canebrake rattlers. Others were tan or orangish with pinkish-tan bands edged in dark brown — copperheads. One copperhead, so big it filled the entire opening, stopped halfway out and tested the air with its tongue. The canebrakes were longer, but the copperhead dwarfed them. Once outside, the snakes weren't sure where to go. Their heads swiveled from one side to the other and their tongues licked the diesel-filled air.

"Melody!"

I took off for the creek as Daddy had made me promise. Twigs snapped and cracked as I raced toward the water's edge. Dead leaves rustled and rattles sounded behind me. Panting, I reached the bank and turned to look.

Less confused, the snakes were slithering away from Daddy. He had a big canebrake caught in the snake-stick.

"Get in the water."

I shook my head. "But they don't scare me."

"Melody." Daddy's tone told me not to argue. He put the snake in the can I had carried.

A canebrake and a copperhead reached the bank as I backed into the water. The grayish-brown canebrake rattler on the left curled and rose into striking position. It swayed with its head almost as high as my chin. I stared into its yellow eyes. Was I in striking distance?

Before the sliver of fear could grow, I opened my mouth and sang.

Rattlesnake, rattlesnake, I fear you none Crawling beneath, the moon and sun Show me no harm, under the sky I will show no fear, though afraid to die

The rattle vibrated against the ground. Staying as still as possible, I sang the words as they came from my heart.

On your belly, slither on by Rattlesnake don't bite, don't make me cry The hills are full, in the green green grass Please leave me be, let me pass

The copperhead slowed its approach then stopped at the water's edge. The snake poised to strike, swayed with the music and lowered to the ground. Its rattle stilled as I sang on.

Snakes slithering away from Daddy changed course and came toward the two in front of me. I wanted to laugh. I'd never given a concert to snakes before. They kept coming until the entire nest curled together in front of me.

Rattlesnake, rattlesnake, I fear you none Crawling beneath, the moon and sun Show me no harm, under the sky I will show no fear, though afraid to die

Daddy walked silently behind the snakes. "Be still, baby. I'll get them as quickly as I can."

I didn't want him to hurt them. And they wouldn't do anything as long as I sang to them. So I sang to Daddy. "I'm fine. They're not going to hurt me. They like my song."

He nodded then circled past the large nest of pit vipers in front of me and entered the stream.

The ground is yours, you own the dirt Your poison, your venom, I know would hurt So with you in mind, at night I pray Rattlesnake grant me, another day

"Keep singing and wait for me to come behind you." Daddy's words were soft but clipped, like when he got upset.

I didn't know why. It's not like I hadn't been around snakes from the time I was a baby. He and Mama handled them every week at church.

As I repeated the chorus, he glided through the creek toward me. Slowly. He might spook the snakes if he moved too fast. But they had all calmed down. They wouldn't hurt me.

From behind, he lifted me straight out of the water and strode down the center of the creek.

After moving ten feet from where we had been, I twisted toward him and he hugged me tight.

"Stop singing or they might follow." His breath caught in his throat and he squished me tighter. "I've never seen anything like that in my life."

"Daddy, I can't breathe."

"I'm sorry, honey." His grip loosened and he gave a weak chuckle. "I'm so glad you're safe."

I put my hands on his cheeks and gazed into his dark eyes. "I was always safe, Daddy. They wouldn't hurt me. They came for the concert."

He made a sound between a cough and a laugh. "Well, my crooner, I think it's best to keep the snake concert between you and me, or your mother won't allow you to come on a hunt ever again." He hugged me tighter. "Where did you learn the song?"

"I didn't learn it, I just sang it." I nestled my cheek against his. "I remembered the story you told me about when Chief Yellow Snake died and the words came out."

Daddy carried me out of the creek, set me down, and took my hand.

I kicked my boot through the leaves. "Can I ask you a question?"

"Sure, honey. You can always ask me anything."

How should I ask so he wouldn't get upset? "Why does Mama not want me to touch snakes when she handles them every time we go to church?"

Daddy's cheeks puffed out as he exhaled. "That's quite a question, Melody. And it's not an easy one to answer."

Great. Not easy to answer meant I wouldn't be getting one. I scuffed the toe of my boot in the dirt and waited for him to tell me he'd answer it when I was older. The way he usually did when I asked a hard question.

He took off his hat and ran a hand through his shoulder-length black hair before settling the hat on his head again. "But my little girl is growing up and you're getting old enough to need some answers."

My heart stilled for a moment. Would he tell me the truth? Or would he tell me a Cherokee fable instead?

"Your mama has a strong faith in God."

I nodded. "It's why we go to church every Sunday and Wednesday night."

He took my hand again with a smile. "Your mama and Uncle Harlan were raised to believe they have to do certain things to show God they believe in Him." He nodded toward the nest we had chased the snakes from. "Let's go get our catch, then we'll head back on the trail."

Thank goodness we didn't have to be quiet anymore. My boots crunched across the twigs and fallen leaves.

"And while your mama will pick up snakes to confirm her faith in God, she's frightened of them."

Why would she be afraid of snakes? The snakes wouldn't hurt anyone unless they had reason to. I struggled to keep my tongue still. With Daddy, it was sometimes best to keep my questions to myself and let him tell me in his own way.

Daddy looked to the sky for a few moments before continuing. "When she was about your age, at church one Sunday, the preacher picked out a big canebrake rattler during his sermon and he held it above his head and swung it around for everyone in the congregation to see."

Pastor Wolfson showed the congregation snakes all the time.

"And it twisted and bit him in the face."

Ugh. I'd never forget the time Sister Wolfson, Pastor Wolfson's wife, had been bit. She had come to the front to handle the snakes and started doing this weird dance. Most folks who handled danced with the snakes, but this was different. Instead of dancing to the music, she'd stared down the snake, holding it with one hand. She used her other arm like a serpent, wiggling it all around the snake's head. And she shouted words, but not in a language I had ever heard before.

The snake had watched her for a few moments, as if in a trance, but when she'd made a striking motion, it had struck back getting her hand. The blood seeped out of the puncture wound and it trickled down her arm. She'd raised the snake over her head and screamed she had been blessed by the Lord. He would show the congregation His strength by healing her.

Afterward, Pastor Wolfson said she had been filled with the spirit of the Lord and had been speaking in tongues.

I wasn't afraid of the snake as much as I was afraid of Sister Wolfson.

"The preacher dropped the snake as he fell to the ground and it slithered to the front row and rose to a striking stance. Well, your mama sat front row center with a snake staring her in the face, ready to strike again."

Kinda like the one by the bank. Except I hadn't seen someone bitten in the face. I shivered as the wind whipped through. "Oh my gosh. What happened?" Daddy frowned at me.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Speak No Evil"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Liana Gardner.
Excerpted by permission of Vesuvian Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Speak No Evil 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous 3 days ago
I understand why Melody didn’t want to speak, but I think I would feel more like screaming. No child should have to go through all she did. It seems as though every time she found a friend or a happy place everything all started to fall apart. This book takes one through her years, and with back flashes, shows why she became mute. Will she be able to break out of her prison? Thank you, Ms Gardner, for giving us such a thought provoking book. It’s one that will stay with me a long time. ***Book provided without charge by PICT.*** Submitted by sunny island breezes.
BuriedUnderBooks 5 days ago
There’s a certain vibe that comes with the mere idea of snake handling, a vibe that is a mix of religious fundamentalism, backwoods living and a touch of macho man. Most of us can’t begin to really understand why people engage in the practice but there’s no doubt we’re fascinated by it. The young Melody is a tragic figure whose life has been in a downward spiral ever since her mother was killed by one of her father’s snakes and, through backflashes, we see what has happened to this child over the years. It’s not surprising, really, that Melody has stopped speaking, especially since her voice, as beautiful as it is, has not served her well. Can she find a way to explain why she stabbed a classmate and will she find release in the music she has always loved? Ms. Gardner spins a tale that is full of emotion of all sorts and I found an immediate connection to this young girl. Various subject matters could have been overwhelmingly dark but the author finds the right amount of light and I think I’ll remember this book for a long time.
Anonymous 9 days ago
Heartbreakingly beautiful. Definitely recommend.
ReadersFavorite4 18 days ago
Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite In Speak No Evil by Liana Gardner, it is December 2014, and 15-year-old Melody Fisher sits in a police station waiting to hear her fate after stabbing classmate Troy Alexander. It was six years ago that Melody’s life seemed idyllic, living in the Cherokee community of Appalachia with her parents. She had been on snake hunting trips with her father from a young age, and it was there she had learned the skill that song would calm the snakes and keep her safe. Since losing her beloved mother to a snake attack at the age of nine and her father abandoning her, Melody was forced into foster homes and the care system. Her brutal journey of abuse and neglect resulted in Melody carrying the burden of shame and guilt. Will music be Melody’s only comfort or will there be someone who can rescue this damaged soul and put her back together piece by piece. Prepare to go on an emotional rollercoaster with this superb novel, telling the story of one child’s horrific journey of heartbreak and abuse. The author is a very talented storyteller and has created the most memorable and eclectic mix of characters that you will instantly love and treasure or hate. Dr Kane and Miss Prescott, for me, were living angels and a salvation for the kind-hearted and beautiful soul that is Melody Fisher. There are some dramatic scenes, especially with Melody and the snake in the barn, and the narrative is perfectly written to bring the plot to life. I feel a very sensitive subject has been handled with the utmost care and consideration. Any victim of abuse or those who blame themselves for events out of their control need to read this novel, and realize their disjointed view of themselves can be remedied. There are hands of friendship to be found if you can build up the courage to trust once more. This book should be in every school library and youth centre. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
ReadersFavorite3 18 days ago
Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite Speak No Evil is a work of contemporary fiction written for young adults, penned by author Liana Gardner. Graphic in nature and suitable for older teens and adult readers, this harrowing thriller tells the tale of Melody Fisher, a young woman who is certain that trouble follows wherever she goes. From the tragic death of her mother, for which Melody blames herself, to the terrible things which happen as she travels through different foster homes, Melody’s life crystallizes with horrifying sexual abuse. But Melody chooses silence over speech, believing tragically that her past means that she’ll create more trouble for herself if she breathes a word to anyone. Victim silence is a very important issue, and Liana Gardner treats it with the respect it deserves when delivering this emotionally intelligent tale for her audiences. The circumstances of Melody’s young life are transient and ever-changing, making this a largely character-led tale that follows her inner emotional journey as its core plot. Though it will not suit every reader due to its highly emotive style, Melody’s message and the consequences of her silence are an important read for those looking to open up these kinds of discussions with young women, and I often thought whilst reading how wonderful it would be to use this book in classrooms for social issues. The prose is well developed, the dialogue fresh and authentic to the contemporary time frame, and overall, Speak No Evil produces a harrowingly accurate account of a terrible secret kept. A highly recommended read.
ReadersFavorite2 18 days ago
Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite I admit, I read and review lots of books but it’s not long before I forget most of them. Such will never be the case with Speak No Evil by Liana Gardner. Aimed at young adults, it presents the story of Melody Fisher, a sensitive, talented young adult thrust into the foster home system following the death of her mother and disappearance of her father while still a child. It takes many years, an in-tune therapist and a caring case worker to break through Melody’s wall of silence regarding the abuse she’s endured both at school and in those foster homes. Unlike most, including myself, who have written books related to child sexual abuse, Gardner has chosen to tell Melody’s story in a most unusual and powerful way. Rather than simply proceeding chronologically, while Gardner does begin with the joy and love her parents showed Melody, readers suddenly find themselves listening to her story at various stages of her life: sometimes she’s 5, or 9, 11, or 16. Then she’s 7 again. Is this confusing? Initially, a little. But when readers realize that this teen who refuses to speak to anyone is slowly facing the unspeakable heartaches of her past with the help of her therapist, it all makes sense. It’s also a very clever way that Gardner has used to keep readers in suspense about what really happened to Melody. By writing Speak No Evil this way, Gardner gave me an unforgettable book impossible to put down. When we first meet the teenaged Melody, who instead of a cell-phone always carries a music player, who dreams constantly of the mountains and natural surrounds of her early childhood, and who aches incredibly from the loss of her parents and others whom she came to love, like Quati Raincrow, we are intrigued by her love of and comfort in music, nature and all animals, including snakes. Some of the episodes with snakes will make readers cringe but no more than Melody’s encounters with male sexual abusers, both adult and teen. Those encounters ultimately plunge Melody into the only place she finds comfort: music and silence. The therapist has his work cut out for him, but the method he chooses to finally get Melody to open up is brilliant and effective. There is so much I’d like to tell you about Speak No Evil. It’s made an indelible impression on me, as I’m sure it will on most readers. There are too Melody Fishers in our homes and schools who lock themselves away in a world where they are both desperate to be heard and afraid to speak up. Though circumstances won’t be identical, Speak No Evil is their story. It’s not my job to tell them that story but to encourage them, and those who care about young people’s mental health to read it for themselves. I have no doubt, that like me, they will find this book unforgettable. A brilliant and novel approach to addressing important social issues. Bravo!
ReadersFavorite1 18 days ago
Reviewed by Tracy Young for Readers' Favorite The first twelve years of Melody’s life were idyllic. She had a loving family and benefited from a close-knit, caring community. Her father taught her to commune with nature and her mother encouraged her to bring joy into the lives of others with her voice. Melody could sing like an angel and did so at her local church, much to the pride of her parents. Speak No Evil by Liana Gardner shares with the reader a story of how a tragic accident can change a young girl’s life forever. A series of foster homes and the experiences she encounters turn the girl who could charm the birds from the trees into a young woman who has retreated into herself completely. Following a shocking event at her local church, her therapist is tasked with preparing Melody to tell her story or face a punishment that could destroy her completely. Can he manage to coax the girl who has failed to speak for two years to open up to him and tell the world what really happened that fateful day and the years leading up to it? Speak No Evil is a gripping book and the narrative switching from current times to significant periods in the past is the perfect way to tell the story. The reader knows that something devastating has happened to Melody but the story leading up to the revelation is equally shocking. Liana Gardner explains that she has written the book using personal experience and the stories of other women who have undergone similar experiences. Melody’s silence signifies the way some women feel about sharing their stories with other people, and how difficult it is to overcome the desire to retreat. I really enjoyed this book and would urge others to read it; the story of Melody and her bravery will speak to you and stay with you for quite some time.
ReadersFavorite 18 days ago
Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite Speak No Evil is a contemporary fiction novel for young and new adults written by Liana Gardner. The young woman who stabbed Troy Alexander, Asheville’s hottest young football player, would not speak to the officers at the precinct where she had been taken. Melody seemed to have lost the power to speak over the long years she had spent in the foster care system. She sat huddled with her music playing and did her best to shut out everything that was going on around her. Miss Prescott, her social worker ever since Melody’s mom died and her father disappeared, soon arrived and took charge of her. She had arranged with the judge for Melody to be released pending trial. Melody would be home schooled, and she’d be taken in by another foster home. Dr. Kane quietly sat taking notes as Mrs. Langdon, the somewhat frowzy woman who was currently fostering Melody, pushed the girl into his office. He would be having two-hour sessions with her until Melody was able to testify in court about her reason for stabbing Troy Alexander. Kane was a quiet, compelling man, who seemed to share her love of nature. His insights on the behavior of the squirrel and the crow they were watching from his window seemed to calm her. First, he’d get her to share the music she played continuously on her mp3 player. And, until she could speak, he’d speak for both of them. Speak No Evil is alternately beautiful and troubling -- and a totally compelling read. Melody’s memories of her life and her adventures with her Cherokee dad are transcendent and magical. I was hooked as I read of Melody and her dad’s trip to Grandfather Mountain to find new snakes for their church services. I loved reading how her dad would take the ailing snakes from the church, heal and then release them back, replacing them with the new snakes they would find on the mountain. Watching as Melody sings to the snakes, composing her song as she sees them approaching her is unforgettable. Equally magical are the sessions Roger Kane and Melody have each day, sessions I began to look forward to almost as much as the two participants seemed to. Gardner’s characters are finely drawn and credible, and her plot is so relevant considering the thousands of children lost in the foster care system and at the mercy of those charged to care for them. As I read the first few pages, I realized I would be immersing myself in a very special book, a conviction that only got stronger as I read on. It’s one of those books you want never to end. Speak No Evil is most highly recommended.