Silent to the Bone by E.L. Konigsburg

Silent to the Bone is about a child named Branwell Zamborska who stops talking after his baby sister is hurt.  Nikki, Branwell’s sister, is not breathing and Branwell calls emergency services, but he stops talking.  His English au pair Vivian comes on the line and screams that Branwell has shaken the baby.  Nikki ends up in a coma and Branwell is taken into custody.  Branwell goes to a juvenile behavioral center because he refuses to talk, which does not help him if Nikki dies and criminal charges will be brought against him.  Branwell’s best friend Connor comes to visit him while he is detained and devises a plan that allows Branwell to communicate with Connor without speaking.  Through this code, Branwell sends Connor out to discover the truth of what happened on the day that Nikki stopped breathing.  The mystery of what really happened on that day unravels as Connor finds himself saving Branwell.

This was surprisingly darker than what I am used to by Konigsburg.  The manipulation of the culprit is intense.  I loved going through the mystery with Connor.  It was always interesting to find out where Branwell was going to lead us.  It also gave a very empowering feeling to younger readers because they ultimately are the only ones that can communicate and save the day.  All of the adults are missing too many clues.  On the negative side, I never felt compelled to read this book.  There were quite a few times that I put it down in order to read something else.  It is not exciting and gripping.  For the most part, it is a slow moving novel that has a lot of entertaining parts that don’t need to be read right away.  As a teacher, this makes me nervous because I feel like a child would not be as patient as I am.  They will probably put the book down and forget about it rather than pick it back up a few days later and continue.  There is a lot more thinking and talking about thinking than actual action within the whole story.  I guess that is what happens when one of the main characters does not speak.

All in all, I gave this a 3/5 stars.  I liked it, but I will probably not push it towards my students or read it again.

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