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We are headed to Alaska in a few months. So, when I saw reviews popping up for a book set in Alaska, I wanted to read it. But while The Quality of Silence is indeed set in Alaska, I have a feeling that our cruise is going to be a far different experience …
Yasmin is mom to Ruby, a 10-year-old deaf girl. Her husband, Matt, is a wildlife photographer who’s in Alaska, working with some natives in the far northern part of the state. Yasmin, worried about their marriage, heads to Alaska with Ruby for a visit. But once they arrive, police inform her that there’s been a fire in the village Matt lived in. Everyone was killed.
Yasmin refuses to believe Matt is dead, and talks her way into riding along in a semi with a guy headed north. Before long though, the semi driver has a medical issue and is taken to the hospital. Here’s where the book starts to become a bit eye-rolling. Yasmin takes over his semi and begins driving it. On dangerous, often only slightly-marked roads. Through mostly uninhabited-Alaskan mainland. During storms. With her daughter. We hear about steep dropoffs along mountain roads, but somehow Yasmin navigates these all just fine. She even succeeds in attaching chains to the tires! And all in a blinding snowstorm and temps at 20 below zero! Forgive me if I’m a bit skeptical that this could happen in real life.
Ruby is a sweet, well-meaning kid. She really got on my nerves though with her constant usage of the words “awesome sauce” and “super coolio” — phrases I’ve never heard a child say. Ruby is starting a wildlife blog with her dad. She loves listening to all the scientific facts her mom tells her (Yasmin is an astrophysicist. Beautiful too, of course.), including a discourse on “coronal mass ejection.” Show me the child who will throw back her head in joyous glee at such a conversation. Good grief!
Well, there’s much more that happens in the book, but to tell a lot of it would be to spoil. I’ve been pretty critical, but overall I did enjoy the book. The author did a great job creating a sense of place. I really felt like I could imagine the deep darkness and the piercing cold of northern Alaska. Heck, it even kind of made me want to tune in to “Ice Road Truckers,” a show I’ve never before watched or really wanted to. The first 3/4 of the book had a lot of tension and drama; the last 1/4 really dragged for me.
Try this one out and see what you think of it.