The Other Side of Silence by Margaret Mahy: B+

From the back cover:
In her brilliant but argumentative family, Hero is different, because she chooses not to speak. Instead, she prefers to escape real life at home for her true life—climbing in the thick trees far above the stately old Credence mansion and letting her imagination fly. But the real and the true intertwine when Hero starts to do odd jobs for Miss Credence, an eccentric woman who weaves strange fairy tales around Hero as she works, and who is hiding a shocking secret high up in the tower of her house…

I’ve only read one other book by Mahy, Changeover, but I liked it, so when I saw this one languishing near the Marsden in the library, I picked it up, not knowing anything about it. I find it interesting that it’s the second YA book about someone who doesn’t speak much that I’ve read recently, and both in the first person.

The Other Side of Silence is pretty short at 170 pages, but Mahy does an excellent job capturing the current state of Hero’s family, and most of its members are well-developed, particularly her mother and two oldest siblings. Hero’s younger sister, a hip-wiggling sex-mentioning pre-teen, reminds me of a character from Alere Flammas. The treatment of Miss Credence is also well-done. At first she comes off as merely somewhat batty, but as time progresses, she starts to become downright creepy.

The best element, however, is Hero’s growth as she deals with the balance between real life and true/fantasy life, making discoveries about others, some not so pleasant, some merely unexpected, and incorporating them into her perception of the world around her.

The way the plot line wraps itself up is satisfactory, but I did not like the epilogue (of sorts) very much. Some actions were taken without sufficient motivation, and it was irksome. Still enjoyable overall, however.

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