Thursday, December 8, 2011

Alice's Review: Speak Softly, She Can Hear

Summary: Blurbed by Wally Lamb as "a sexy and suspenseful psychological thriller," Lewis's debut opens with shy, overweight New York City schoolgirl Carole Mason heading to a Vermont cabin, where she intends to lose her virginity to handsome but venal Eddie Lindbaeck. Soon after she does, Eddie's friend Rita shows up for a threesome. When a bout of rough sex leaves Rita dead, Eddie convinces the drunken Carole that she broke Rita's neck. Carole's best friend, Naomi, arrives at the cabin, and the three of them dump Rita's body in a snowdrift, swearing to never reveal what has happened. The reader knows (if Carole doesn't) that Eddie and Naomi will use this secret to make her life a living hell. Eddie demands that Carole give him stolen presents, extorts money from her and seduces her mother. Carole responds by leaving college and starting a new life as a waitress in Manhattan. Eddie finds her, and she runs again, and again, winding up in Vermont not far from where they buried Rita years before. Eddie and Naomi turn up and cause more trouble until a final confrontation settles the matter once and for all. There aren't many surprises, but this is well-written and gripping enough that readers will stay up late to see whether beleaguered, tortured Carole can free herself from the despicable Eddie.

Review: Speak Softly, She Can Hear is one of those novels that is an unexpected surprise.  I have a fondness for novels about girlfriends and sisters.  When I purchased this novel last year, I was intrigued by the tale of two friends, a pact to lose their virginity and a handsome and fatally charming stranger.  What I received was a story of one woman's resiliency. 

Carole was the average girl.  She felt she wasn't anything special, plain, slightly overweight, normal when she would rather be anything but.  Actually, that's not entirely true.  One of Carole's characteristics I really like was her confidence in herself yet that confidence didn't communicate with her classmates.  Sadly, I think she was the odd girl in class.  Nothing really wrong with her, yet the perfect target for bullies and snobby girls.  I think her desire to be perfect was her biggest downfall.  With each page, I felt more compassion for Carole.  She was thrown into a situation by the one person she felt was her friend yet Naomi was just a troubled young girl. 

I was extremely impressed with Ms. Lewis.  This story was a relatively simple.  One girl, one villain, one secret. It was intriguing, a page turner.  I turned every single page because I needed to know how Carole would escape under the weight of guilt she felt over Rita's death and under Eddie's thumb.  She was a survivor, a fighter. A runner but she did what she had to for self preservation.

What drives me crazy about novels like this is that if only Carole has told the truth, none of this would happen.  Then again, there wouldn't be a novel if she had.  What I'm getting at is people are so afraid of the truth.  In reality it is the lies and deception that harm us.

This novel is a must read.  As a debut for Ms. Lewis, it is stellar.  I'm looking forward to what else she brings us.

Final Take: 4/5


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