Silent Child: A Joke With No Punchline

Kalista Puhnaty takes a look at Silent Child and why the book is disappointing because of its unsatisfying plot twist.

Sarah A. Denzil, Silent Child, $15.99, ISBN-10: 1542722829

Sarah A. Denzil’s Silent Child sets itself up to be the thriller of the decade through the use of cruel and disturbing real-world events, an intriguing and unique concept, a well fleshed-out cast of characters, and an intricately woven collection of minor plotlines that relate to the main plotline—and not in the way I expected. It remained wonderfully calculated and kept me on my toes…until the plot twist arrived.

In the beginning, the book introduces its main conflict: Emma Price’s child, Aiden Price disappears during a flood and is presumed to have drowned. The only thing left is his red jacket. His body is never found. Emma eventually declares him legally dead, closing the investigation. Ten years later, he wanders out of the woods, mute. He also has not properly learned to write due to being kidnapped at such a young age. Aiden Price is the only one who knows what happened to him, but he can’t tell his mother or the police for reasons unknown. Emma has regained control of her life in Aiden’s absence, with a new husband and a baby on the way, but that begins to disintegrate. Nothing is as it seems. Familiar faces are coming out of the woodwork. Emma’s friends and family are no longer to be trusted, as they are all turning against each other and Emma, for many reasons . The stage is set for the big reveal, some shocking plot twist, and in the moments before the final chapters, I was thinking almost anyone could be guilty of kidnapping Aiden. It was enthralling, it was exciting, and I was on the edge of my seat, expecting my mind to be blown.

When the plot twist is unveiled, the novel’s plot unravels in the most unsatisfying way, and the twist falls flat. The novel turns out to be more about Emma’s new life than Aiden’s trauma, and the resolution of his plot is poorly executed. My excitement that had been growing exponentially as time went on was lost—not popped, but slowly deflated, like someone letting go of the balloon they spent five arduous minutes pushing air into. I got whiplash from how quickly the focus of plot shifted, and the novel’s sloppy ending and explanations certainly didn’t help matters. I was left confused as to what point the book was trying to make by focusing all of its drama on the specifics of something that, in the end, didn’t really matter to the resolution. There are very few books that I would say do not provide any sort of payoff, but this book makes that list. Overall, Silent Child is a book that resembles hosting a slumber party: it began on a strong note, held my attention for the majority of its duration, and as I neared the end of it, I realized that I had wasted my time and that the book had overstayed its welcome. The book departed in a hurry, and I was left sitting on the floor, staring at the mess it has left behind in a mixture of awe and resentment.

 

By Kalista Puhnaty

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