Broken Silence, Helen Vivienne Fletcher
BROKEN SILENCE is the story of seventeen-year-old Kelsey, a kid who has had a lot to deal with in life. Confused and very vulnerable, she cared for her gravely ill mother until she had to go into care. Her remarried father has disappeared from her life, and Kelsey finds herself living in a scruffy flat with her brother Pete and a couple of his mates. She feels rejected by her father, in her brother's road, and she's hiding the physical signs of abuse that her boyfriend regularly doles out. Her life is a mess, and she's hurting, physically and emotionally.
The character of Kelsey really is heart-breakingly real, and very cleverly constructed. She's vulnerable and confused, and up to the brim with teenage angst. She's sympathetic, sad, annoying, conflicted, unreliable and often borderline unlikeable. She and her brother resent the positions that they've been placed in and they rub each other up the wrong way. Sometimes the reader will need to remind themselves that this is a characterisation that comes from the impact of so much trauma at such a young age.
Then there's the matter of the stranger at the end of the phone. The stranger that comes to her aid after her boyfriend attacks her in public. The stranger that puts her boyfriend in hospital, comatose. The stranger that Kelsey may have asked to do exactly that. The quiet ramping up of tension that comes with those phone calls, as they start to increase the pressure on Kelsey, moving from offering a way out and possible salvation, to being part of the problem is elegantly done, shifting perceptions and expectations ever so slightly, undermining Kelsey's position as put upon, creating questions around unreliability and potential motives.
Issues based YA fiction like BROKEN SILENCE is a tricky undertaking. There are messages aplenty in this novel, carefully constructed to not be preachy, overly dramatic or even apparent as "messages". It tackles a lot of difficult subjects such as bullying, domestic violence, sexual harrassment and gaslighting. The messaging never takes away from a solid plot that keeps the reader guessing and working at likely resolutions.
All in all, BROKEN SILENCE is a gripping, page turner of a thriller, with a clever take on the unreliable and frequently unlikeable narrator that would work for adult readers as well as its target audience of older YA.
A stranger just put Kelsey’s boyfriend in a coma. The worst part? She asked him to do it.
Seventeen-year-old Kelsey is dealing with a lot – an abusive boyfriend, a gravely ill mother, an absent father, and a confusing new love interest. After her boyfriend attacks her in public, a stranger on the end of the phone line offers to help. Kelsey pays little attention to his words, but the caller is deadly serious. Suddenly the people Kelsey loves are in danger, and only Kelsey knows it. Will Kelsey discover the identity of the caller before it’s too late?
Broken Silence is the first young adult thriller from award-winning playwright Helen Vivienne Fletcher. If you like raw emotion, life-and-death suspense, and thrilling plot twists, then you’ll love Helen Vivienne Fletcher’s new page-turner. Pick up Broken Silence today, to learn the identity of Kelsey’s caller.