Melody Fisher, an orphan and survivor of several foster homes, hasn’t spoken in years. This is particularly problematic when she stabs handsome, popular football star Troy Alexander with a pair of scissors, and cannot utter a word in her own defense. Dr. Roger Kane, her therapist, is determined to help her learn to speak again, and finds an unexpected ally in the music that is Melody’s constant companion. With that support, she learns to explore and face the traumas and lessons of her painful childhood – but will it be enough to save her when the case comes to trial?
SPEAK NO EVIL, for a book centered around terrible things happening to a young girl, manages to be a remarkably tender and warmhearted story. Melody’s life has indeed been far more difficult than any child should have to endure, but at key points, it is also touched with warmth and love, from her parents, from her first foster mother Quatie Raincrow, from her social worker Miss Prescott, and from Dr. Kane. Her religion is a plausible and intriguing mix of snake-handling Christianity and Cherokee beliefs, and the resilient strength it gives her is evident.
There are some wrenching, heartbreaking moments in this book, both for Melody and for other characters, but the story’s loving message shines through at least somewhat even in its darkest times, and its message is ultimately hopeful and uplifting. The story is simply told, in clear language which manages to be poetically descriptive without being overelaborate or excessively embroidered. Melody’s story unfolds bit by bit, and it’s hard not to be won over by her strong, loving spirit, or to empathize with her repeated struggles to keep her head above water emotionally given all that happens to her. Her songs illustrate and add emotional color to her story, especially the ones (like the rattlesnake song) that reverberate in more than one context. There are some aspects of Melody’s progress and of the resolution that feel a bit overoptimistic, especially considering the scars her history has undoubtedly left, and some of her story is rather sadly predictable, but the book is ultimately satisfying nonetheless.
SPEAK NO EVIL is a touching tribute to the power of loving faith and steadfast, patient kindness to heal the damage done by human cruelty and thoughtlessness.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader