cover image The Other Side of Silence

The Other Side of Silence

Margaret Mahy. Viking Children's Books, $14.99 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-670-86455-3

Twelve-year-old Hero has chosen to talk to no one except (on occasion) her older brother, and yet, she notes, ""even in the heart of my silence, I was still a word child."" And, indeed, the reflective Hero--who returns again and again to stories she has read--uses words to wondrous effect as she slips in and out of both her ""real life"" (``the life I lived with my family'') and her ""true life"" (``the early-morning life, which I lived before anyone else was up and about''). Articulate and filled with intriguing imagery, her first-person narrative proves that, though she may remain silent, Hero absorbs and creatively decodes all that she hears and observes. Mahy's (The Haunting; Underrunners) inventive plot involves two women who are hiding something: Hero's older sister, who returns after many years with an adolescent boy in tow; and an eccentric neighbor who hires Hero to work in her garden. In different ways, their secrets will change Hero's life--as will the voice inside of her, bidding her to ""do something magical. I must push the story on, and then I really could close the book and leave it behind me."" Mahy's exceptional imagination and storytelling prowess will make it difficult for readers to leave this book behind them--hers is a tale with staying power. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)