Thrillingly suspenseful and atmospheric, The Quality of Silence is the story of Yasmin, a beautiful astrophysicist, and her precocious deaf daughter, Ruby, who arrive in a remote part of Alaska to be told that Ruby's father, Matt, has been the victim of a catastrophic accident. Unable to accept his death as truth, Yasmin and Ruby set out into the hostile winter of the Alaskan tundra in search of answers. But as a storm closes in, Yasmin realizes that a very human danger may be keeping pace with them. And with no one else on the road to help, they must keep moving, alone and terrified, through an endless Alaskan night.
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***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof***
Copyright © 2016 Rosamund Lupton
EXCITEMENT: Tastes like space dust & popping bubble-gum; feels like the thud-bump of a plane landing; looks like the big furry hood of Dad‟s Inupiaq parka
It’s FREEZING cold; like the air is made of broken glass. Our English cold is all roly-poly snowmen and „woo-hoo! It’s a snow day!‟ a hey-there friendly kind of cold. But this cold is mean. Dad said there were two main things about Alaska:
For one, it’s really really cold and
For two, it’s super-quiet because there’s thousands of miles of snow and hardly any people. He must mean the north of Alaska, not here by Fairbanks Airport, with cars’ tyres vibrating on the road and people with suitcase wheels juddering along the pavement and planes scissoring up the sky. Dad is a big fan of quiet. He says it’s not that I’m deaf but that I hear quietness.
Mum is keeping close to me, like she can wrap me up in another warm layer of her, and I lean right back into her. She thinks that Dad’s snowmobile broke down so he missed his taxi- plane. She says his sat phone must have run out of charge otherwise he’d have definitely phoned us.
Dad was meant to meet us at the airport. Instead there was this policewoman who “Can’t Tell You Anything Yet I’m Sorry.” Now she’s striding off ahead of us like we’re on a school trip and the museum’s about to close with the girl gang calling after her, “Five minutes in the gift shop, miss!” but when a woman walks like that you know she’s not going to slow down.
I’m wearing goggles and a face mask. Dad was super-bossy about what we had to bring with us--proper Arctic gear, Puggle--and now with the broken glass air I’m glad. I never cry, least not when people can see me, because if you start down that slippery slope you could end up wearing a pink tutu. But crying in goggles doesn’t count as public as I don’t think anyone can see. Dad says that up in the north of Alaska your tears can freeze.
Holding her daughter’s hand, Yasmin stopped walking towards the airport’s police building, causing the young police officer to frown, but for a short while she could pause what was happening. All around them snow had fallen, snow on snow, covering what had once been there in its monotone colour and texture; a scene made of plaster of Paris. By her feet she saw the delicate markings of a bird’s footprints in the snow and realised she was staring downwards. She forced herself to look up, for Ruby’s sake, and was startled by the clarity around her. The snow had stopped falling and the air was dazzling, bright and crystalline, the lucidity astonishing; one more turn of the dial to more clarity still and you‟d see each atom of air defined around you. It was as if the scene hovered, too in focus to be real.
The policewoman just took a newspaper off the table, like I’m a little child who’s not allowed to read newspapers, so I hold up all my fingers to show her I am ten but she doesn’t understand.
“A senior police officer will shortly fill you in,” she says to Mum.
“She thinks I’m a colouring book,” Mum signs to me, pretending that she’s OK, trying to make me smile. People often miss Mum being funny, as if people who look like movie stars can’t tell jokes too, which is really unfair. She hardly ever signs to me, she always wants me to read her lips, so I do a smile back, but inside I don’t feel smiley
Mum says she’ll be back soon and to come and get her if I need anything. I sign “OK”, which is raising my thumbs. It’s a sign hearing people use too, which is maybe why Mum doesn’t tell me to “USE YOUR WORDS, RUBY”.
When I say “I said” I mean I signed, which is hand-talking or I typed which is another kind of hand-talking. Sometimes I use an American sign which is like people using an American word when they speak with their mouth.
There’s 3G in here but I’ve checked and I haven’t got an email from Dad. It was stupid to even hope there would be as:
For one) his laptop broke two weeks ago and
For two) even if he’s borrowed a friend’s there’s no mobile signal or Wi-Fi in the north, which is where he must be because his snowmobile broke down; so he’ll have to use his satellite terminal to send me an email and that’s super-hard to do when it’s freezing cold.
“Puggle” is the name for a baby platypus. Dad films wildlife programmes and he loves platypuses. But a platypus, especially a baby one, wouldn’t survive two minutes in Alaska. You need to have special fur that keeps you warm like an Arctic fox and feet that stop you sinking in snow like a snowshoe hare or be like a musk ox with big hooves that can break ice so you can get to food and water. And if you’re a person then you need goggles and arctic mittens and special clothes and a polar sleeping bag and Dad has all of those; so even if he has broken down in the north where your tears freeze he’ll be all right, just like the Arctic fox and the musk ox and the snowshoe hare.
I completely believe that.
And he’ll come and find us. I know he will.
On the plane from England, which took HOURS and HOURS, I kept imagining what Dad was doing. I was thinking, Dad will be leaving the village now; Dad will be on his snowmobile now; Dad will be getting to the landing strip.
“In the middle of nowhere, Puggle, and the thing about the middle of nowhere is that it is very beautiful and empty because only very few people find it.”
Dad will be waiting for the taxi plane now.
“Like a letter for the postman, you need to be there on time or you’re not collected.”
I fell asleep for ages and when I woke up I thought, Daddy will be at Fairbanks Airport now, waiting for us! And I wrote that tweet about Excitement being Dad’s furry Inupiaq parka hood and the thud of the plane landing, although we hadn’t actually landed yet but I thought that would be the most super-coolio feeling ever; bumping down and Dad being so close.
Then the flight attendant came busy-bodying towards me and I knew he was coming to tell me to switch off my laptop; which would’ve made Mum happy, because she hates thatbloodylaptop. I asked Mum to tell him that I’d put my laptop on flight-safe mode. I wasn’t sure Mum would, because she’d have been super-happy if I’d had to turn it off; but the flight attendant saw me signing to Mum and realised I was deaf and did that thing people do, which is to go all mushy. Dad thinks it’s the combo of beautiful Mum and little deaf girl (me!) that makes them like that--like we’re in a movie on a Sunday afternoon. The mushy flight attendant didn’t even bother to check I was on flight-safe mode after that just got me a free Twix. I hope there aren’t any terrorists who are ten-year-old deaf girls or they’ll just be giving them free sweets.
I’m nothing like the little girls in those films, and Mum isn’t like a movie star either, she’s too funny and clever, but Dad is quite like Harrison Ford. You know, the kind of person who can disarm a terrorist if he has to but still reads the bedtime story? He finds that really funny when I tell him. And even though he’s never actually had to disarm a terrorist--well duh--he always reads me a story when he’s home, even now I’m ten and a half, and I love falling asleep with his fingers still making words in front of my eyelids.
Then we landed--bump-thud of the wheels and me super-coolio excited--and I linked up to the free Wi-Fi and posted my tweet and we got our luggage off that roundabout for cases, our legs a little funny after being on a plane for so long and we hurried through to Arrivals. But instead of Dad waiting for us there was a policewoman, who Can’t Tell You Anything Yet I’m Sorry and she brought us here.
The senior police officer had been delayed, so Yasmin went to check on Ruby. She and Ruby were coming out to spend Christmas with Matt in just four weeks‟ time, but after her phone call with him eight days ago she’d needed to see him face to face immediately--as immediately as is possible when you have a child at school and a dog and cat who need looking after and arctic clothes to buy. She’d been worried about taking Ruby out of school but since Matt’s father had died there was no one who Ruby would stay with happily.
She looked at Ruby through the glass in the door, watching her shiny erratically cut hair falling forward over her face as she bent over her laptop. Ruby had trimmed it herself last Wednesday evening in a Maggie Tulliver moment of hair-cutting independence. At home, Yasmin would ask her to turn off the laptop and enter the real world, but for now she’d let her be.
Sometimes when Yasmin looked at her daughter time seemed to hit an obstacle and stop, while everyone else’s time moved on without her. She’d missed entire conversations before. It was as if the contractions, begun in labour as pain, continued afterwards as something else, equally strong, and she wondered if this labour had an end to it. Would she still feel this when Ruby was twenty? Middle-aged? Would her mother feel this for her now? She wondered how long you could go on missing being loved by your mother.
The young policewoman strode up to her--the woman never went anywhere slowly--and told her Lieutenant Reeve was waiting for her and that her suitcases were safely stored in an office, as if the logistics of luggage had equal weight with what Lieutenant Reeve would say to her.
She went with her to Lieutenant Reeve’s office.
He stood up to greet her, holding out his hand. She didn’t take it.
“What’s happened to Matt? Where is he?”
She sounded angry, as if she was blaming Matt for failing to turn up. She’d been so deeply angry with him that her voice had not yet attuned to this new situation; whatever this situation was.
“There are a few things I’d like to confirm with you,” Lieutenant Reeve said. “We have records for foreign nationals working in Alaska.”
Since Ruby had been diagnosed as totally deaf (very rare they said, as if her baby’s deafness was a type of orchid), Yasmin had seen sound as waves. As a physicist, she should have done that before, but it took Ruby to comprehend the truth that sound was physical. Sometimes, when she didn’t want to hear what a person was saying--audio-vestibular specialists, thoughtless friends--she imagined surfing over the top of their words, or diving through them, rather than letting the waves hit her eardrums and turn into decipherable words. But she had to listen. She knew that. Had to.
“According to these records,” Lieutenant Reeve continued, “your husband has been staying at Anaktue. Although originally we had him staying at Kanati?”
“Yes, he was there for eight weeks in the summer, at an Arctic research station, making a wildlife film. He met two Anaktue villagers and they invited him to stay in their village. He returned to Alaska in October to stay with them.”
An unnecessarily detailed, procrastinating answer, but Lieutenant Reeve didn’t hurry
with his response either, as if he too didn’t want this conversation to go any further.
“I’m afraid that there has been a catastrophic fire at Anaktue,” he said.
Catastrophic. A word for immense devastation, for volcanoes and earthquakes and meteorites striking the Earth, not for the tiny village of Anaktue, more of a hamlet even than a village. The stupid thing was that she’d been coming out here to row with him, to issue ultimatums that she’d intended to carry through. She’d travelled halfway round the globe to tell him that he had to come home, right now, that she didn‟t believe him that nothing more would happen with the Inupiaq woman and she wasn’t going to stand by on the other side of the world as this woman destroyed their family. But that had made Matt seem so lily-livered weak, this other woman and herself determining his loyalties and future, that she had become angrier still so that not a single item in hers and Ruby’s cases was folded but hurled and crammed inside, ready to burst out when they were unzipped in Alaska in a fury of down feathers and Gore-Tex.
“We think gas canisters for a heater or cooker exploded in one of the houses,” Lieutenant Reeve said. “And the fire spread to a stockpile of snowmobile fuel and generator diesel which caused another much larger explosion and a devastatingly intense fire. No one at Anaktue survived. I’m sorry.”
She felt knifed by love; winded by the sharpness of it. The sensation was oddly familiar; a harsher version of the pain she’d felt in their early days, long before marriage and a child, before there was any tangible security that he’d still be with her tomorrow. And time was no longer stretched out and linear but bent back on itself and broken into fragments so that the young man she’d loved so passionately was as vividly recalled and equally present as the husband she’d argued with eight days ago.
She remembered the low winter sun slanting through the windows, the slow quiet voice of the philosophy professor, the thick walls of the lecture hall cushioning them from the cawing of birds outside. Later, he would tell her they were starlings and dunnocks. He was sitting a few empty places away from her. She’d seen him twice before and had liked his angularity; his way of walking quickly and preoccupied, as if his mind was dictating his pace; the sharp planes of his face. When she clicked her knitting needles he’d glanced towards her and their eyes had a jolt of irrational recognition. Then he’d looked away as if looking any longer would be a reproof for the clicking. When the lecture finished he came over to her as she put her knitting away, baffled.
“Is it a snood for a snake?”
Later he said he thought she was barmy but wanted to give her the chance of a defence.
“You’re a fruitcake, right?”
That was your idea of giving me a defence?
“An astrophysicist,” she’d said.
He’d thought she was joking, then he’d seen her face.
“A knitting astrophysicist in a philosophy lecture?”
“I’m learning about the metaphysics part of physics. In Oxford you can do a joint degree. And you?”
“So what are you doing at a philosophy lecture? Apart from questioning my knitting?”
“To how we think about animals. Ourselves. Our environment and our place in it.” He caught himself and looked abashed. “Not normally so heavy. Not so quickly.”
“I’ve come a long way to do heavy quickly.”
Her school had been brutally underachieving. She’d survived it by becoming hidden and anonymous; fortunately, her high-cheekboned, small-breasted looks had no currency with teenage boys. She’d hugged the secret of being clever close to herself, deliberately underperforming in exams until A levels when she’d spectacularly pulled a glittering four As out of a bag everyone presumed contained a collection of unshiny Cs and Ds. She’d had to hide her nerdiness for years, now she was celebrating it.
She put away her long thin piece of knitting.
“Eight o’clock. Outside the UL. I’ll show you.”
Lieutenant Reeve leaned towards her and she realised that they were both sitting at a table, opposite one another; she hadn’t remembered sitting down. He was handing her something.
“A state trooper from Prudhoe found it at the scene. He brought it to us to show you. From the initials inside we think it may be Matthew’s?”
She stroked the touch-warmed solid metal of his wedding ring. Inside were hers and Matt’s initials; half of the first line of a vow. She felt the second half of the vow under her wedding ring imprinted on the soft underside of her finger.
“Yes, it’s his,” she said.
She took off her wedding ring and replaced it with Matt’s, which was much too big for her finger. She put hers on again, hers now keeping Matt’s safe, because maybe one day he might want to wear it again. It was impossible for him to be dead, not with that knife inside her; not with Ruby sitting next door. She could not--would not--believe it.
She saw Lieutenant Reeve watching her hands.
“He takes off his wedding ring when he’s working. Puts it somewhere safe.”
The explanation Matt had given to her, weeks ago, when she’d spotted his bare ring finger in a photo he’d emailed to Ruby. Thankfully Ruby hadn’t noticed.
She didn’t tell Lieutenant Reeve that she hadn’t believed Matt’s excuse.
A few hours after the philosophy lecture, already dark, they’d walked away from the historic part of town, inhabited by students and tourists, to a retail park on the edge of a housing estate, the tarmac and concrete impersonal, the shadows forbidding. He saw that there were knitted tubes around signs and railings and a bike rack. He hadn’t been beguiled solely by luminous eyes, long limbs and generous smile, but by soft wool around hard metal, yarn colouring aluminium and steel in stripes and patterns.
She told him that she was part of a group of guerilla gardeners, stealthily changing concrete roundabouts into small flower meadows in the middle of the night, but she hadn’t done that for a little while.
“Only so many roundabouts?” he’d asked,
“The wrong time of year to plant,” she’d replied. “And you can’t garden in lectures.”
“So is this your secret passion?” he asked.
“Knitting snoods for railings? Fortunately not.”
But she didn’t trust him enough yet to show him.
Lieutenant Reeve was unsure whether to put a comforting hand on hers but felt awkward as he started the gesture. She was being so dignified, none of the fuss he was expecting. Unfair, fuss; he meant emotion he wouldn’t know how to deal with; grief.
“A plane saw the blaze yesterday afternoon,” he told her, thinking that she’d want details. He would in her place.
“The pilot flew over Anaktue just before a storm hit. The North Slope Borough state troopers and public safety officers mounted a search and rescue mission, despite the storm and terrible flying conditions. And they kept searching until the early hours of this morning, but tragically there weren’t any survivors.”
“Yesterday afternoon?” she said.
“Yes, I don’t have any more details, I’m afraid. It was the state troopers and PSOs in the north who were on the scene.”
“He phoned me yesterday. Matt phoned me. At five pm Alaskan time.”
She’d known it all along but now she had the proof. As the policeman made a phone call she remembered fragments of their conversation as they’d walked back towards their colleges together and how all the time another conversation was going on, in the way he leaned in closer to her, the way she subconsciously matched her pace to his; she noticed the faded checked collar of his shirt against his neck, with the protruding Adam’s apple, as if he was still in the process of being formed, this man-boy.
He saw the harsh street lights land on her brow and cheeks and mouth, and saw the woman she would be in ten years and it was just like that, he told her later. Bam! A magic trick. A miracle. The woman I want to be with.
She’d had less confidence in his imagined future. But as she walked with him she felt the solitariness of her old life, the one in which she was the oddity, the only person in her family and school and estate to go to university, recede a little behind her.
Reading Group Guide
The official guide for The Quality of Silence
1. When Yasmin learns of her husband’s death, she refuses to believe that he is dead. Did you believe in Yasmin or did you think she was being stubborn?
2. Ruby has very different relationships with her parents. They both love her tremendously but have different opinions on her using her computer to interact with the outside world. Which parenting style did you agree with more?
3. Yasmin ultimately puts her daughter Ruby at risk, taking her on this dangerous journey in freezing temperatures. Did you ever think that she was being a bad mother? Or did you understand and sympathize with her because it was an extreme situation?
4. Ruby describes how she conceptualize words as colors, shapes and ideas. What did you think of this? How do you think Ruby’s deafness impacted her narration of the story?
5. How do you think Yasmin is able to drive a massive truck on the treacherous Alaskan roads? Do you think people are able to go beyond their normal capabilities when faced with life or death situations?
6. Rosamund Lupton’s descriptions of the Alaskan wilderness are vivid and beautiful. Was it easy to imagine yourself there with Yasmin and Ruby?
7. The flashbacks interspersed throughout the story illustrate the relationship between Yasmin and Matt. Did you enjoy reading these flashbacks? What do you think they added to the story and understanding of the characters?
8. The debate of fracking arises in the novel, did you have an opinion of this practice before the novel? Do you have one now after reading The Quality of Silence?
9. The fellow truck drivers that Yasmin connects with on the radio system are very nice to her. What did you think about this community of truckers? Do you think they should have done more to stop Yasmine or was the information and support they gave her helpful?
10. Did you ever guess or speculate who the truck driver stalking Yasmin and Ruby was? Were you surprised when their identity was revealed?
11. Discuss the ending. What did you think of the crime and the motivation behind it?
12. Twitter serves as a life-saving tool in this novel. Do you think Twitter or other forms of social media have this capability to save lives or at least send out an S.O.S. in the real world?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
So far I have loved all her books.
This book has an absurd premise. A mother is forced to travel to rural Alaska with her daughter, who is deaf, and search for her husband along an ice road, where he has gone missing after a mysterious fire. As they travel along the road they realize that someone is following them. Of course, the police are no help, as they believe the husband is dead. Things only get worse when the mother and daughter start to receive threatening photo messages of dead animals. As the mother and daughter journey closer and closer to the village where they they think they'll find the missing character, the reader is left to wonder if their chase will be cut short. As crazy as the book is, the ending seems to make sense and wrap up all of the loose ends nicely. However, the long hours on the road drag on in the book, and eventually the terror of an inexperienced mother driving a truck on ice roads is lessened. At some point, you almost want them to be caught so you can find out who is chasing them. Overall, the interesting storyline is lost to a slow and unforgiving pace. I'd only read this one if you have more patience than me.
The quality of silence tells the highly improbable story of a young woman dragging her 10 year old deaf daughter across the frozen landscape of Northern Alaska hoping to prove that her husband is indeed alive. I first had a hard time believing the story as plausible, but it was made even more difficult to become invested in this story due to the rapid and unexpected jumps in perspective. I typically enjoy having a story told from multiple points of view, but this story switched too often and between too many characters. I think some people may enjoy this story, but it simply was not for me.
This book kept you riveted right up to the last page. Loved it.
I loved the book up until the ending. This was a very unique story told though the eyes of a 10 Year old deaf girl. A very unique perspective to Say the least. Turns out the girl is very precious And sometimes comes across a little to mature. I am sure this was very challenging for the author And I must say she did a creditable job convincing Me this little 10 year old could be so smart. Loved all the characters and really got into the story line. At times I found myself judging the mother's judgment when it came to the safety of the child. It was so intense at times I had to keep reminding myself this was fiction and the author Could take leniency without being arrested for Child endangerment. Over all it was a page turner and although I would have liked a better ending It was a good read and I highly recommend it To teenagers and teachers.
A very riveting read and full of information on subjects I was unfamiliar with.
The Quality of Silence: A Chilling Tale that Is Sure to Please! Yasmin’s husband has been filming wildlife in northern Alaska. Eager to see him after a long absence, Yasmin and their ten-year-old deaf daughter, Ruby, go to an Alaskan airport to meet him. But, instead of being reunited with Matt, the police whisk them away to a private office. The police tell Yasmin that the tiny northern Alaska town where Matt has been staying, has burned to the ground, and that Matt is dead. However, Yasmin refuses to believe them. Instead, she finds her own way into Alaska’s treacherous, bitter cold northern wilderness. This is an amazing book! It is so incredibly well-written, that the reader is carried away into the Alaskan wilderness and actually experiences the severe cold along with Yasmin and Ruby, because Rosamund Lupton is able to make the bone-chilling cold very real to the reader. As Yasmin tries to get to the husband she refuses to believe is dead, the reader finds herself virtually unable to put the book down. In addition, Ms. Lupton creates some intensely realistic and likeable characters. The reader really begins to cares what happens to Matt, Ruby and Yasmin. The reader is able to see for herself what Ruby is experiencing in this story, because Ruby narrates some of the story. Primarily, the book alternates between Ruby’s words and a third person narration. This book is a true adventure for the reader. This is a must-read, but you might want to bring along your own cuddly blanket as you read this one!
First, I won an ARC in a contest. What a beautiful book. The language in this book is gorgeous. A mother and daughter searching for their husband and father in the Arctic Circle, traveling alone in the perpetual night and trying to become closer. The only issue I had with the book is at the end. I was a bit perplexed as to why a man would tell so much to a state trooper rather than telling the trooper only what was necessary. It could have been merely a way for the reader to fully understand what this character went through. Still, it didn't quite fit. A minor complaint in an otherwise beautiful book.
A Fantastic Book Alaska Yasmin, a beautiful astrophysicist and her precocious daughter, Ruby, who is also deaf, arrive in a remote part of Alaska only to be told that Ruby’s father, Matt, has been the victim of a catastrophic accident. Yasmin and Ruby are unable to accept his death as the truth so they set out into the hostile winter of the Alaskan tundra to get some answers. Yasmin soon realizes that a very human danger is keeping pace with them as a storm closes in on them. They have to keep moving as there is no one else on the road to help them and they are now alone and terrified moving through an endless Alaskan night. This is a story that will take readers on a roller coaster ride that doesn’t stop until the very end. Just as the reader thinks they know what is going on another clue is revealed to make them start guessing all over again. This proves to be a book that is very hard to put down once the reader starts it. Seeing how resilient Yasmin and Ruby are makes for an amazing story that will have readers hoping that everything turns out okay for them both. This is a thriller that is a must read. It is also a thriller that will have readers wanting to read more from this author. The ending is excellent though some readers will be wishing for a more definitive ending than the one provided.
This book had me hooked from the beginning, Ruby is amazing, I love her! Ruby and her mom Yasmin are flying to Alaska to meet up with Ruby’s dad, Matt, when arriving, they are told he died in an accident. Not believing this, Yasmin and Ruby set off across the Alaskan tundra to find Matt. But, the story is also so much more than that, through out the story you learn of Yasmin’s fear of how difficult Ruby’s life could be since she is deaf, she fears that if Ruby does not use her voice, then she will not have a “voice” in the world, and without a voice, how can others know what an amazing person Ruby is. Through their perilous journey, mother and daughter form and even greater bond through the dangers and difficulties in their search for Ruby’s father. With everything stacked against them (being followed, a horrible storm, and arctic temperatures) their hope and love is what keeps them going. Amazing, this book was amazing!
I was very disappointed in this book. I have read all three books written by Rosamund Lupton; this was the most disappointing of all her books. Her first book, SISTER, was tremendous! From there it has been a slippery downhill slope. I am so hoping that she is not a "one and done" author with SISTER being the best she has to offer. For me, there was no story here, although I do tremendously appreciate all the research she put into writing this book.
“He knew now that a landslide a hundred feet wide was moving towards the ice road, frozen soil and rocks and shrunken trees stealing closer by a few centimetres a day, gaining speed and destroying anything in their way; as if the land itself, like the cold, was not just passively hostile but actively aggressive” The Quality of Silence is the third novel by bestselling British author, Rosamund Lupton. When Yasmin Alfredson and her ten-and-a-half year-old daughter, Ruby, arrive at Fairbanks, Alaska, they expect that husband and father, Matthew there to meet them. Instead, a police officer is telling Yasmin that the remote village where Matthew was photographing wildlife, Anaktue has been burned to the ground with all lives lost. And the finding of Matthew’s wedding ring seems to confirm that he is one of the victims. But Yasmin remains unconvinced; she is steadfast in her belief that her husband is still alive, alone in the wilderness, and is determined to find him before the predicted storm hits. With no safe place to leave Ruby, Yasmin is obliged to bring her profoundly deaf daughter along. No available flights mean that road transport is the only option, and before long, events see Yasmin driving a loaded eighteen-wheeler in the Arctic dark of November on an ice road. And someone seems to be following them. Lupton’s plot is original, while her characters have depth and appeal; she states in the acknowledgements that she wanted her heroine to be courageous and imaginative, and Ruby certainly is that, with her deafness adding a unique perspective. Lupton conveys the Arctic cold and dark with consummate ease. The reader is treated to some beautiful descriptive prose. This is a real page-turner of a book with a nail-biting climax (or two), twists and red herrings to keep it all interesting, and a strong environmental message to convey. Lupton’s extensive research into Arctic life, animals and people, into fracking, and into deafness (as well as her personal experience on this subject) is apparent on every page. Readers will find themselves contemplating society’s attitude to disabilities like deafness, as well as the pros and cons of fracking. If the reader can sufficiently suspend disbelief about a relatively inexperienced English driver successfully operating an American eighteen-wheeler on an ice road in the dark, then this is a brilliant read. With thanks to the GoodReads Giveaway program for this copy to read and review.
3.5 The Quality of Silence is the third book from Rosamund Lupton. I've quite enjoyed her previous two books. Yasmin leaves England to connect with her wildlife photographer husband Matt, currently in Alaska. The visit was planned, but Yasmin moved up the timetable after the two argued on the phone. With Yasmin is their ten year old daughter Ruby. But, when they arrive, Yasmin is told that her husband has died in a terrible accident. She refuses to accept this and instead sets out to find him or more concrete answers as to what happened. She takes Ruby with her. Ruby is profoundly deaf... "My name is a shape, not a sound. I am a thumb and fingers, not a tongue and lips. I am ten fingers raised old - I am a girl made of letters. R-U-B-Y. And this is my voice." Lupton's previous books have featured a female protagonist thrust into extraordinary circumstances, going beyond what they thought they could do. Yasmin is thrust into that position as well as she attempts to navigate the unyielding cold and darkness of the Alaskan winter, searching for answers. This made for an excellent backdrop for the story - the dark, the danger and the unknown. The desolation of the landscape mirrors Yasmin's angst and fears. But Alaska is beautiful as well and this is mirrored in Ruby's observations and hopes. Lupton does a great job describing her setting. The cold became a palpable entity, chilling me as I read. But, I did have some reservations ....Spoiler alert - stop here. Could Yasmin really have really driven a heavy duty hauler loaded with a pre-fab house over the treacherous ice roads that are the Alaskan winter? In a storm? Risking their lives? When the 'real' drivers pull over? Yep, I've watched Ice Road Truckers. It seems someone is just as determined that Yasmin not search for Matt. Again, Lupton does a great job building tension making an ordinary pair of headlights quite ominous. For me, The Quality of Silence belonged to Ruby. She was a wonderfully engaging character, I loved her outlook on life and her determination to decide how her 'voice' is heard. Her emails to her missing father are quite heartbreaking. I had a hard time with Yasmin - quite frankly, I just didn't like her. Lupton ramps up the tension as the book progresses. I was invested in the journey - and then the road to the final answers came (too) quickly into view - and I was slightly disappointed. I guess I was looking for more a traditional thriller ending - which was there. But, I thought it too stretched credibility. Still, The Quality of Silence kept me reading to the last pages. Not my fave of Lupton's three books, but I will pick up the next one without question.
I have struggled with how I should rate this book. I really liked a lot of things about this book but I had a few problems with it. I consider this to be a good book overall that I wouldn't have any problems recommending to most readers. I think that the three star rating that I finally went with is fair. Let's start with the things that I really liked about this book. First of all, Ruby was a fantastic character. She was smart, resourceful, and very brave. I really wished that more of the book would have come from Ruby's point of view because her outlook on the world was just so interesting to me. I think that the descriptions of her hearing loss were incredibly well done and it added a lot to the story. Ruby was just an amazing child. The setting in this book was wonderful. This book is set in the winter months in Alaska. I can't imagine that kind of cold. At least, I couldn't before reading this book. I thought that the conditions in this book were fantastically portrayed. I read this book curled in a blanket hoping that I would never experience the kind of cold that I was reading about. There was a beauty to this cold wilderness that really surprised me. I didn't love Yasmin but as the book progressed I started to understand her a bit. She was a strong woman and very goal oriented. Yasmin was not afraid to take risks. I didn't like her at all for the first part of the story. The way she was with Ruby made me want to strangle her at times. As the story unfolded, her character really started to grow. She got to know Ruby a bit better and before everything was over, I had warmed up to her a bit. The main problem with this book is that it felt like two different stories to me. There is really very little cohesiveness between the first 2/3 of the book and the final section. I mean some of the characters are the same and they were still in Alaska but that was about the only connection. It was almost like the majority of the book was really just trying to get to the very exciting ending but it was such a sudden change in pace that it just didn't work for me. The sudden shift in the book was really quite jarring for me and took me out of the story. I would recommend this book to others. The descriptions were lovely and the writing style was really nice. This is the first book by Rosamund Lupton that I have had a chance to read. I would definitely read more of her work in the future. I won an advance reader edition of this book from Crown Publishing in a LibraryThing Early Reviewers giveaway for the purpose of providing an honest review.
The Quality of Silence was an interesting story with a deeply atmospheric setting and the voice of a ten-year-old little girl that made this book special. Ruby and her Mum, Yasmin, have just arrived in Alaska from England when they are told their wildlife photographer husband and father, Matt, has died in a freak fire that has erased an entire village. Refusing to accept this scenario, Yasmin takes Ruby on a frightening journey a la 'Ice Road Truckers' to find Matt. The narrative alternates between Ruby's and Yasmin's point of view. Ruby is deaf, and following her POV was the highlight of the book for me. She was funny and clever and opened up an entirely different way of thinking about words. I also enjoyed the style of writing, especially the lyrical descriptions of the unforgiving landscape and the extreme weather. I wouldn't call this a thriller, though. There was some slowly building suspense and a feeling of dread, but it was more of a family drama with an emphasis on relationships. I have to admit I skimmed some of the last quarter of the book, as it didn't hold my interest. Overall, a good book, but not quite riveting enough for 4 stars. This was the first book by Rosamund Lupton that I've read, and I intend to catch up with her other publications. 3.5 stars. I received a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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