Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Review: Fighting Silence by Aly Martinez

3 stars
EDIT: Changed this rating from 3.5 to 3 stars. Must have been feeling generous that day.

Some of my favourite romance novels of all time feature the 'I've loved you my whole life' trope, so I was excited to read Aly Martinez's Fighting Silence, particularly as it features a unique hero, Till Page, who is going deaf from a congential hearing problem. 

The day Till finds out about his hearing defect is the same day he meets shy, artistic Eliza. They're both kids from the wrong side of the tracks with absentee parents, and from then on they look after each other. Till convinces himself that Eliza can never be his, but at eighteen they spend a night together and everything changes. Till disappears, and Eliza moves on with her life.  But Till can't stay away for long, and soon he's back with a fledgling boxing career and two brothers in tow. He doesn't want to do anything to endanger their friendship again, but all Eliza has ever wanted is Till, and she's not going to let his fear get in the way.  

Fighting Silence was different and touching, but while it was enjoyable, I was a bit conflicted about how to rate it. If you had asked me throughout the first half, I would have told you unequivocally that it was 5-star material, but I felt as though the second half let it down. The use of time-jumps worked well to set up Till and Eliza's relationship, allowing us to see a few formative incidents from their shared youth, but once they were together it prevented the reader from appreciating their growth as characters.  

Perhaps because I started to lose my sense of connection to the story in the second half, I also found the ending was very convoluted and took away from one of its major themes. I don't think it's any great spoiler to say that, about halfway through the book, Till becomes completely deaf. His early attempts to deal with this are very poignant. The way Till looks after his two little brothers is very endearing, making his realisation that they may suffer the same fate particularly heartbreaking. When he becomes permanently withdrawn and it starts to have consequences on his relationships with others, Eliza basically tells him to suck it up. After a time jump in which Till flicks his internal self-pity switch to 'off' and everyone around him magically learns to sign, his deafness is pushed to the side in favour of a lot of random new complications, and it's here that I start to wish the book took a different tack.

While I would be just as dissatisfied if the book gave the impression that becoming deaf is the be-all-and-end-all, it would have been nice to see Till learning to navigate his disability more, and to have had more realism in this process. I mean, everyone - regardless of ability - has days when they feel sorry for themselves, or have to make a concerted effort to remind themselves how lucky they are, and I feel like the quick change from Till underwent from 'angry at the world' to 'this is my lot now' delegitimised this constant and ongoing struggle.

These things brought Fighting Silence down, but it was still a enjoyable, well-written romance.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...