Mar 4, 2013

Louder Than Words by Laurie Plissner review

The debut novel of an American original, Laurie Plissner's is both medical thriller and lyric love story in the tradition of magical realism

Since the snowy night when her family's car slammed into a tree, killing her parents and little sister, Sasha has been unable to speak except through a computer with a robotic voice. Nothing is wrong with her body; that's healed. But, after four years, Sasha's memory, and her spirit, are still broken. Then one day, she's silently cussing out the heavy book she dropped at the library when a gorgeous, dark-haired boy, the kind of boy who considers Sasha a freak or at least invisible, "answers" Sasha's hidden thoughts -- out loud. 

Yes, Ben can read minds; it's no big deal. He's part of a family with a host of unusual, almost-but-not-quite-supernatural talents. Through Ben's love, Sasha makes greater progress than she has with a host of therapists and a prominent psychiatrist. With him to defend her, bullies keep the world from ever understanding Sasha, he pulls away. Determined to win him and prove her courage by facing her past, Sasha confronts her past -- only to learn that her family's death was no accident and that a similar fate may wait for her, in the unlikeliest of disguises.

From Goodreads

I think this is one of those books that I read at the wrong time. I was hyper-sensitive to almost everything that happened in this book and took issue with many items.

First of all, there are 2 very aggressive and more titillating than is necessary sexual assault scenes. As I've stated many times, I am not anti-sex, but there is a time and a place for these kinds of incidents. This book didn't need it and it was far more graphic than the scene required. Another issue I had stemmed from these scenes because the female in question was completely helpless, forcing her would-be love interest into a "white knight" role. Again, not necessary & actually damaging to the character's character. Even worse, her best friend AGREED with her not to get the police involved. Encouraging that kind of behavior is just ridiculous. Sexual assault is something taken far too lightly, especially among teens (that whole "boys will be boys" adage).

Furthermore, the portrayal of psychiatry in this book is abysmal. As if it's not hard enough to convince someone to go to therapy for the help they desperately need, this book twists that relationship into a manipulative, ego-driven way. I also felt like the ending was very immediate. We were following a trail of clues to figure out what really happened the night of the accident and within the space of just a few pages BAM it's all over. It was definitely very abrupt, with a sense of confusion.

Now, all that being said, I did enjoy the mystery elements of the story. Sasha's hysterical mutism is a fascinating medical anomaly that I've never seen used in such a unique way. Even better are the different ways she communicates & how her attitude shows. You'd be amazed at the incredible power of words once you've lost the ability to use them.

I also really enjoyed  Plissner's writing style. The banter among characters and the attention paid to the details was well done. The word and events were quite convincing and helped me to move past the glaring flaws that lurked around every corner.

Overall I'd rate this one a pretty big dud. Fortunately this is the author's first book and she shows some promising talents. I hope that she can tidy up her closure & reevaluate her portrayal of certain instances. While not a "not to be missed" title, it's worth a read if you can move past the issues outlined above.

Anyone else read this one?


Bookworm1858 said...

I was very appalled by the portrayal of the first sexual assault scene (even more appalled after reading another blogger's note about how dumb she was to walk alone in the dark!) Still I found the writing style interesting and had to know if she'd be able to talk again especially with the boy who can read her mind like it's no biggie.

loreleimarsh said...

Glad someone else felt the same way! I liked the writing and the relationships, but I wasn't expecting the mindreading playing as large a roll as it did.