The Blurb (from Goodreads):
On 24 November Yasmin and her ten-year-old daughter Ruby set off on a journey across Northern Alaska. They’re searching for Ruby’s father, missing in the arctic wilderness.
More isolated with each frozen mile they cover, they travel deeper into an endless night. And Ruby, deaf since birth, must brave the darkness where sight cannot guide her.
She won’t abandon her father. But winter has tightened its grip, and there is somebody out there who wants to stop them.
Somebody tracking them through the dark.
A gripping psychological thriller, The Quality of Silence is on my list of recommended reads for my Cotswolds writing retreat students. I asked them all to read it because it is such a brave and unconventional crime novel. One of the things I really want to do is encourage my students to read more widely and to take more risks with their writing. Rosamund Lupton is one of the most daring crime writers around, and there is much to learn from her.
What is so audacious about The Quality of Silence?
Firstly, the protagonist is a ten-year-old deaf girl named Ruby. She can only speak with her hands, or if she types into a voice-generating computer. She can only understand others if they use sign language, or if they articulate so slowly and clearly that she can read their lips. In darkness, she is both deaf and mute.
Secondly, the book is set in Alaska in winter. The sun sets in November and does not rise again until late January. Sixty-seven days of darkness. And Ruby and her mother Yasmin are alone in this bitter-cold wasteland. The two of them, hurtling along a treacherous icy road in a snowstorm, the only source of illumination their dipping, swaying headlights. And the headlights of the truck that is following them. It is the most intense and claustrophobic setting imaginable.
Thirdly, Rosamund Lupton is not afraid to switch points-of-view, or to jump backwards and forward in time, or to leave a whole page empty with nothing but a single full-stop upon it.
It’s virtuoso writing, and so unusual to find it in a genre that demands narrative pace and tension. I can’t wait for her next book (rumoured to be released in late 2019).