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3.12  ·  Rating details ·  1,077 ratings  ·  181 reviews
A spellbinding novel about a troubled young girl and a family in crisis, and a gripping, astonishing portrait of recovery and self-determination.

When December opens, eleven year old Isabelle hasn’t spoken a word in nearly a year. Four psychiatrists have abandoned her, declaring her silence to be impenetrable. Her parents are at once mystified and terrified by their daughte
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 17th 2008 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2008)
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Average rating 3.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,077 ratings  ·  181 reviews

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Jan 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
I don't think I have ever said this before about a book - but it was just too realistic. By which I mean, too many sighs, too many dumb comments, a couple with a sad marriage that I have totally seen in real life, a conflict that's interesting but ultimately goes nowhere. Blah, mundane, disappointing.
December is about an eleven year old girl Isabelle who, one day, inexplicably, falls mute and proceeds to remain such for almost a year. Trauma? Spicy event that triggered this? Nope. She just felt
Apr 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: covid-read
The book is all about a little 11 year old girl Isabelle, who for some reason is has stopped talking.
She does not have any siblings and is the only child of her parents, therefore whatever happens is between the three characters mostly.

Its a very tense atmosphere, almost like both the parents are tip-toeing around each other to understand Isabelle, to see what will make her smile again, what will make her talk again or what could make her angry for no reason.

The author Elizabeth H. Winthrop has

Renita D'Silva
Emotional and sensitive. Beautifully written.
This is an intricately detailed novel covering only a few days in real time and, as one other reviewer pointed out, it's actually kind of too realistic. Promising plot points appear -- the deaf boy next door, Isabelle's latest doctor, her sketchbooks -- that lead nowhere, which happens often enough in real life but is frustrating in fiction where every word is supposed to mean something. I kept wondering what made Isabelle stop speaking, and the story was like a mystery to me in that sense...but ...more
Eva Mitnick
Nov 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: grown-ups
Imagine all the stages of puzzlement, anger, frustration, and terror you'd go through if your 11-year-old daughter gradually stopped talking. Now imagine it's 9 months later - not only has she not said a word to anyone, but she has become more and more withdrawn and secretive, spending most of her free time reading or drawing, often not even responding to her parents' attempts to communicate.

That's the situation that two NYC parents, Ruth and Wilson, and their daughter Isablelee find themselves
Karen Jarvis
Paragraphs far too long and too much detail to get no where.
Nora Quigley
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A simple story of a family and their crisis and how they try to deal with it.
Ally Atherton
Nov 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ruth and Wilson Carter are usually look forwards to Christmas, a special time of snow angels, coal fires and family fun. But this year it's different. Isabelle, their 11 year old daughter has stopped talking. There's that old saying 'you don't know what you've got until it's gone', but normally a child's voice is something you don't expect to disappear. Her parents have tried everything and they are worried that Isabelle's life is ruined and that they could have done something to stop it from ha ...more
Lucie Hostalek
This is a story of an 11 year old, Isabelle, who hasn't spoken in a almost a year and how her parents, Ruth and Wilson, struggle with the situation.
Albeit a slow read, and not terribly insightful about the child's condition, I was compelled to finish the book to see how the story was resolved. The characters were a bit annoying, the father for pushing a trip to Africa to make Isabelle speak, the mother for her constant uptightness, and Isabelle, for appearing spoiled. It's definitely a family c
Nov 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
Chosen for its title alone – DECEMBER is Winthrop’s second novel but the first I have read. Set in the week leading up to Christmas DECEMBER is not an edge of the seat read; it is not in your face dramatic either; what it IS is a sensitive observation of how each of the three main characters deals with Isabella’s self imposed silence. It is also not so much a look at why she has chosen to be silent, although that is hinted at, it is more about that she IS silent and she has imposed the silence o ...more
Joleen Richwine
Jul 16, 2009 rated it it was ok
I thought this book was going to be wonder. I had a hard time reading it -- so I read it quickly (book club selection). Overall, I thought the author wandered and did not stay on the subject and did not focus enough on the problem of selective mutes. In the end, the book leaves you hanging. Some folks in the book club thought the author was paid by the word as there are huge chunks in the book that are so random that you have no clue why the author put it in the book.
Apr 16, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary

I really wanted Supernanny Jo Frost to be called into deal with Isabelle. Her parents obviously had no clue how to deal with her not talking and allowed her to basically run rings around them.

I really had no patience with or interest in Isabelle or her parents. The writing was so detailed to be painful. Still it is the sort of books critics loved and I guess many readers.

Not me though - it was hard work with no real insight into the issues.
Mar 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
I really loved the experience of reading this book-- I had a hard time grasping the parents as people, particularly the mother, but the feeling of being inside the daughter's head and her silence was very moving. The end was perhaps as satisfying as it could be-- which is to say, not exceptionally so. I'd probably give it three 1/2 stars if that was possible. ...more
Allie Riley
Beautifully written, but somehow this took me forever to finish. I put it down for months. I think I found Isabelle's failure to speak nearly as frustrating as her parents. And, apart from that, nothing terribly interesting happened. Perhaps I just wasn't in the right mood for it, or something. A clever idea, I think, but I felt the novel was a bit too long. ...more
Dec 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
I liked the idea for this book. I was expecting it to be more emotional and sad. I think the author over described stuff, like there was a scene where Ruth was making soup and every step of the cooking procedure was in there. But the book was ok. A 3.5 i think for me.
Jan 14, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: unread-shelf
Interesting book. It is written with a lot of detail which made some scenes with the family and at home feel really cozy if that makes sense. It is really realistically written. That made it an easy read, which I liked. However, I was extremely annoyed by the mother character. Her attitude wasn't my thing. She ruined most of the nice family moments I enjoyed reading about. But also.... after reading this book I wonder what actually happened in the book. Honestly nothing really happened. The girl ...more
Jan 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Winthrop's novel follows Ruth and Wilson Carter, and their daughter Isabelle who hasn't said a word in nine months. Five psychiatrists can't work out what's wrong with her, and even Isabelle doesn't really know. All she knows is that her attempt to take control over her life has gone too far and she's stuck in the silence. Ruth and Wilson try desperately to find a cure or a way to fix Isabelle, as they navigate their own precarious marriage.

I think I'm being generous in giving this book three st
Mar 26, 2009 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
This book had such potential. I think if the subject matter had been given to Jodi Picoult, it would have been brilliant.

Eleven-year old Isabelle has been silent for nine months. Her parents are struggling to find a way to help her.
Selective mutism= interesting topic.

What I liked:
I felt that Ms Winthrop really got the parents angst. I could relate to their frustration with the situation and their desire to help their daughter.

What I didn't like:
She introduced a deaf boy into the story an
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Review: December by Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop.

The problem I have with this book is it was boring. The subject matter was sad, a child stops talking for nine months, but it still didn 19t move my emotions. It was a fast pace story but with no images of what was really the reason this child stopped talking, besides because she just didn 19t want to talk. It was like she was playing a game and a selfish one at that. Her parents seem to enable her by making excuses for her behavior. As a mother, w
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
What an absolute slog to get through this book. The Father, Mother and Daughter are all insufferable.

The mother was the worst. What an absolute hag. It's like the author didn't want her to be likeable whatsoever.

The Daughter it seems, was intended to be written as if she were introspective, but she really just came across as shallow. She was an odd mixture of internal dialogue that was definitely not indicative of an 11 year old, and overly self-absorbed prepubescent. Even cruel at times.

The Da
Apr 29, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A very subtle book with little plot and too many extra words surrounding the story.

Every little detail and observation was described, which felt unnecessary and just dragged the book on. For example, over half a page dedicated to describing how a mans scarf was caught in a door.

Isabelle was very irritating and spoiled, and I felt angry with her for most of the book. However the author was very good at portraying the tension and frustration of the parents, and I sympathized and felt sorry for the
Jan 09, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I kept waiting for something to happen. Something, anything. Some sort of explanation, of background information, of revelation, of turning point... Instead, this book went on to be as flat as it had started. NOTHING happens. When I turned the last page, I asked myself "What was the point of this book?"... not a good sign. The style was also irritating at times, with an excessive use of the present tense, as though the reader wouldn't be clever enough to understand what was going on if the autho ...more
May 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Imagine being 11 years old. In a bid to control just a part of your life you build a wall of silence around yourself. However, soon the silence that protected you becomes an entity unto itself and it becomes your jailor.
This beautiful novel portrays a family in crisis. Dad Wilson and mum Ruth have no explanation for thier daughter Isabelle's self imposed silence, and trying to find a reason is slowly tearing them apart, both as individuals and as a couple.
Isabelle herself is in turmoil, knowing
Jane Botten
Jan 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Fabulous book! Isabelle hasn't spoken for 9 months and now she just can't. Her parents are distraught and don't know what to do. I loved the way that the author was able to allow us to live in Isabelle's head, following her childlike thoughts, impressions and emotions. I was rapt and fell in love with her. It has a happy ending. Brilliant book. ...more
Renita D'Silva
Apr 04, 2015 rated it liked it
I read this a while back and liked it but it wasn't what I expected, so was a but disappointed. An okay read. ...more
Lucia Gavalova
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Very strange book and I didn't quite the point of this story. I was left feeling rather lukewarm. Forgettable book in my opinion. ...more
PCass Cass
Aug 19, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book is about nothing.
Claire Hampson
Lots of description!!
Sam Rae
Jan 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
Utter guff, boring
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