For eleven years, Oakley Farrell has been silent. At the age of five, she stopped talking, and no one seems to know why. Refusing to communicate beyond a few physical actions, Oakley remains in her own little world.
Bullied at school, she has just one friend, Cole Benson. Cole stands by her, refusing to believe that she is not perfect the way she is. Over the years, they have developed their own version of a normal friendship. However, will it still work as they start to grow even closer?
When Oakley is forced to face someone from her past, can she hold her secret in any longer?
Reading the synopsis of this book, I ad a feeling what the main theme of the story was going to be, and I wasn’t wrong. It had the potential to be an amazing book because of that theme, but sadly, for me at least, it fell a little short of the mark.
While Preston dealt with the subject of selective mutism in a fantastic and sensitive way, but the character of Oakley herself never felt fully formed. I understand she was only fifteen, but she seemed younger than that to me. Cole was a bit better, but not much. He was supposed to be seventeen, and the way he spoke reflected that, but now and then he seemed younger also. It wasn’t anything in particular either of them did, it was some of the language Preston used. It was often younger than it needed to be.
I loved the friendship between Oakley and Cole, and his acceptance of her as she is. This aspect was by far my favourite part of the story – couple with their relationships with their siblings. Oakley’s mum was constantly trying to repair her broken daughter, and that often took over her love for her.
The bullying in the school was well done also, but the character of Julian confused me. He bullied her, yet what? He felt like a bit of an ‘add on’ – a character given to the readers for someone to hate, but without much substance.
The pacing of the book was very slow – until the final 3-4 chapters. Then it went by too fast. The balance wasn’t quite there, and more than once I was tempted to put it down, but I wanted to know if I was right about my suspicions.
However, the ending… that came out of left field completely. I understood the reasoning behind it, but I would have preferred it be told from Oakley’s point of view rather than Cole’s to give it more depth and to help the readers understand the thought process behind it.
I will read the rest in the series, simply because I want to see these characters improve and grow, but I’m not in a rush to grab them just yet.