December is Elizabeth H. Winthrop’s second novel but this is the first novel by her that I have read. I cannot actually recall how the title made it on to my Wish List but it did and I subsequently obtained this copy via Bookmooch a few months ago. Surprisingly little happens in this novel and although well written there is not much to say about it. Although I did not find it boring I did find it at times a little slow because of the amount of trivial detail that is included about the everyday activities of the family, not sure if this much detail was necessary, but it did show how much Isabella’s silence effected family life.
How would any parent feel if their child had not spoken to them for 286 days? Isabella Carter is eleven years old and has not spoken to her parents or uttered a word to anyone in fact for so many months that specialists are at their wits end with her not being able to diagnose anything specific. Her school has been providing work for her to do at home, but are no longer prepared to have her on the list of pupils unless she returns speaking within the next few weeks.
Ruth and Wilson Carters marriage is beginning to show the signs of strain as they struggle to discover where they have gone wrong with parenting, if this is even their fault. The three protagonists narrate the story which means we really get to feel the tension this situation is causing for all three of them. The parents are experiencing vast mood swings from anger with themselves, anger with their daughter, to being scared of what exactly the future holds for them all. Isabella starts her silence because she feels she has no control over her life in any other way. She is struggling with the confusing world of an adolescent, so not speaking seems to her a way of gaining some control. The problem is that the longer her silence goes on, the less in control she actually feels. The control changes to an inner fear that she might not actually be able to speak if she tried to. Without writing a spoiler it takes someone outside the family plus a desperate need to communicate to make Isabella realise that the silence does not have to control her for ever, but how will she respond to this insight. To find out you will have to read the book.
Elizabeth Winthrop © Julia Bishop
To find out more about this young author visit her Official Website