Sesana's Reviews > Hush

Hush by Eishes Chayil
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's review
May 25, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: contemporary, grief, young-adult
Read in August, 2011

This is really an important book about an important subject that just didn't work for me. Sexual abuse in insular communities is an important issue. (And not, I'll point out, limited to the Chassidic community covered in Hush. As I read, I was reminded over and over again of an article I'd read about alarmingly similar circumstances in the Amish community. The common thread is not religion, it's how limited and insular the community is.) And it's written based off the author's personal experiences, who witnessed her friend being molested and couldn't understand enough of what was happening to help her, even if there was help to be found in her community. These are all very important issues, and it's significant that, even as she needs to tell this story, the author doesn't feel like she do it under her own name.

But it honestly just didn't work for me. The narrator and main character holds the world at bay, in large part because of what happened to her friend Devory. But she also kept the reader at bay. I never felt like I was connecting with her, or that I even could connect with her. I was kept at arm's length, at best. And for a book with powerful emotions and powerful things to say, it lessens the impact. It actually lessened my need to finish the book.

And then there's the chronology. The first part of the book is told in apparently random order, across two or three different periods of time. The year is very helpfully stated at the beginning of every chapter, but it didn't really help me figure out what happened when. Telling a story out of order is a very difficult thing to do, and when it succeeds it can be brilliant. But it wasn't necessary here, and it was confusing more often than not, especially when the second half abandons that format and tells the story in a linear fashion.

There's a lot of promise in the writing (this is the author's first book) and the subject matter is so important that it still has a place. But it fell short for me, and I'm sorry for that.

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