Published on May 2nd 2016
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I hate the label Selective Mutism - as if I choose not to speak, like a child who refuses to eat broccoli. I've used up every dandelion wish since I was ten wishing for the power to speak whenever I want to. I'm starting to wonder if there are enough dandelions.
After losing her best friend that night, Piper Rhodes changes schools, determined that her final year will be different. She will be different. Then she meets West: school captain, star soccer player, the boy everyone talks about. Despite her fear of losing everything all over again, Piper falls in love - and West with her - without Piper ever speaking one word to him. But will it last?
I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House Australia in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
After a disastrous romantic betrayal, Piper Rhodes, suffering from Selective Mutism, changes schools and falls into a romance with the local high school hero.
Piper has lost her best friend due to a romantic blunder, so in changing schools she’s hoping for a fresh start where everyone doesn’t know her as the girl who doesn’t speak. As soon as she meets West, local high school captain, soccer star and all-around hero, they tumble into a relationship and fall in love all without Piper speaking a word to him. The problem is, none of their parents approve, and Piper’s Selective Mutism becomes an issue for West, even though he tries to understand.
Piper’s social anxiety seemed to be the stem for her Selective Mutism but I was happy to see it didn’t prevent her from making friends. It really broke my heart when people in everyday situations showed a lack of understanding that overwhelmed Piper. I loved her pre-digital photography hobby, because after all, isn’t there a saying that says ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’?. Imagine all the words Piper doesn’t need to say just by showing one photograph. I really enjoyed her warmth and caring nature, especially towards her youngest sister who was struggling with her own identity and wanting to be silent like her big sister, and I liked the little touches where Piper acknowledged how the behaviour of people around her, like her family, changed to accommodate her lack of speaking.
West seemed like a pretty perfect YA lov interest, to be honest. One of those ‘poor little rich boys’ whose parents were pushing him to follow in the family business (law) and all he wanted to do was open a restaurant. I loved his individuality that Piper helped him recognise and although I thought it was unfair that he put certain pressures on Piper to use her voice, I can understand in a way where he was coming from. He seemed like a pretty well-rounded character and was a joy to read about.
I thought it would be a struggle to portray someone who barely speaks in a novel, but I really liked how Piper was written. Her lack of voice didn’t mean a lack of conveying meaning. Her thoughts were there, and she tried to convey meaning through body language as well as through handwriting. I loved the respect for which Piper’s illness was treated although I’m not sure how I feel about the ending when things just seemed to suddenly turn out OK without Piper really returning to psychology or doing much active work on her own. It kind of felt like she had an epiphany and that was it.
I really liked how Australian the book was as well, although I suspect bits of it were ‘Americanised’ up like cafeteria lunches, and other things references to school that I can’t think of right now.
For such a gentle romance, this book actually had a pretty good pace. After I read the first few pages and had to put it down for other review books, when I picked it back up I ended up reading it in a weekend. The words and plot flowed smoothly and I was always eager to find out what would happen next, especially with the constant challenge of Piper’s Selective Mutism.
I think this was a lovely ‘issues’ romance book for YA and I’d totally recommend it to anyone who likes sweet romances and uncommon teen issues in their YA.