December by Elizabeth H Winthrop

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December by Elizabeth H Winthrop

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Ekaterina Rodyunina
Reviewed by Ekaterina Rodyunina
Summary: 11 year old Isabelle Carter does not talk. Not that she is mute. She just stopped talking a few months ago, less and less initially, and then suddenly would not talk anymore. At all. Not a book for everyone, it doesn't have quick thrills and it doesn't seem to want to bedazzle and conquer: some readers might find it slightly too detailed and slow, but worth a try anyway. I am sure most parents will find it educating and enjoyable - and intensely disturbing too, perhaps.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 384 Date: December 2008
Publisher: Sceptre
ISBN: 978-0340961438

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Eleven year old Isabelle Carter does not talk. Not that she is mute. She just stopped talking a few months ago, less and less initially, and then suddenly would not talk anymore. At all.

Life is therefore fun and games for her parents, Wilson and Ruth: the sort of desperate, act-normal fun and games people play when they're really desperate. Belle is bright and talented, but due to her sudden silence she does not go to school anymore, does not socialize other than with her family and their heartbreakingly ill dog Maggie. Socialising with Belle is great fun too: even the therapists give up on her.

December comes as the book starts, and we get slow revealing glimpses into the Carters' family life: the conversation Ruth has with non-responsive Belle when cooking, the palpably silent dinners in the familiar restaurants, the Christmas tree they used to love to decorate. Everything becomes hard, everything becomes a burden, be it shoe shopping for Belle or just life, really.

It is no wonder Ruth drinks a bit too much and nags Wilson a bit too much. No wonder Wilson suddenly has an idea that it takes an escape to Africa to make Isabelle talk again. No wonder Belle herself is getting annoyed with her silence but is somehow helpless in her fight with herself.

The book is painfully slow and precise. Elizabeth Winthrop spends pages describing how Wilson declutters the garage and how Ruth and Belle arrange the grocery items in the cart. It paints a grim picture, to be honest, but also a hopeful one, and when the silence is broken eventually, the sense of relief is striking.

Not a book for everyone, it does not have quick thrills and it does not seem to want to bedazzle and conquer: some readers might find it slightly too detailed and slow, but worth a try anyway. I am sure most parents will find it educating and enjoyable - and intensely disturbing too, perhaps.

For more family dramas, why not check out From Where I Stand by Tabitha Suzuma.

Buy December by Elizabeth H Winthrop at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy December by Elizabeth H Winthrop at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy December by Elizabeth H Winthrop at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy December by Elizabeth H Winthrop at Amazon.com.


Booklists.jpg December by Elizabeth H Winthrop is in the Richard and Judy Shortlist 2009.

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