“When I was a little girl I actually used to dream of it. I would be in a boat, gliding through sparkling water, and there in the distance I’d see an island. But it wasn’t green like real islands are. It was all dark and brown, as if someone had lit a fire and burnt up the whole place. But of course, I knew differently. And as my boat came nearer I grew more and more excited, until at last, with only a few yards to go, I couldn’t wait any longer. So I’d leap out, feel the water cool on my skin, wade forward, then throw myself on the ground and scoop up the brown pebbles on the beach, cramming them into my mouth.
Only they weren’t pebbles of course.
Flora is 13, lonely and lives under the strict rules of Romania, where no one is to talk badly about the leader and no one is to question their way of life. People are meant to stay quiet and hail their leader and the ways of their country, but one day Flora and her mother see words daubed onto a wall near their building – ‘Down with Ceausescu’. Filled with fear they rush home but this is just the beginning, Flora will soon learn that it has never been more of a suitable time to stay quiet and keep her head down. But with a new friend in the picture and her parents lying to her that might be easier said than done.
This book was incredible. I am often drawn to books set in important parts of history and whilst I didn’t know much about this time and place I was intrigued as soon as I read the blurb. Having visited Bulgaria, a former communist country, and seen what its like even now there I thought this would probably be an eye opener for what the people of those countries went through at the time their leaders fell.
I was very much correct in my assumptions and I soon found that there was so much I didn’t realise, like the fact that so many of Romania’s people went to university and were stuck doing jobs they were well overqualified for, for very little money. It was horrible to read what people went through just to get the basics in these times and I felt so bad for Flora and her family. The story was so good because it led with that aspect and then went into the revolution, so I felt that I knew the characters really well and understood their situation more.
Because of this the glitz and glamour of Daniel and what he had to offer really stood as a contrast to everything you know about Flora and her family by the time he is introduced, its easy to understand why Flora wanted to be his friend. She was very young at the start of the book and you see her grew in both age and maturity as you carry on reading which is brilliant. I really loved that aspect of the book especially because it was really little in length.
I believe that this book was first published in the 1990s and my edition followed in 2014. I think its length was probably very normal for a high MG/ low YA age range book at that time but reading it now it seems to be really small and a very quick read. I really liked what it showed of the time and the character development of Flora but I wish it went into a bit more detail about some of the other characters.
I really would recommend this book if you are hoping to develop your knowledge of the wider world or if you have a genuine interest in history, and especially revolution. I hadn’t heard of The Voices of Silence before I saw it on a shelf at the publishers offices so its likely you won’t have either and its always good to champion books that haven’t been championed for a while!The Voices of Silence was published by Walker Books in 2014, as a re-release of the first edition which came out in 1994. My copy was given to me in exchange for an honest review. To buy the book or for more info please visit: Amazon | Hive | Goodreads | Author Website