From the first time Ellen saw Wayne Blair, when she was in the first grade and he was a senior in high school, she was starstruck. And like a predator, he stalked his prey, waiting until she had graduated college and become a school teacher before drawing her into his web. And since she'd dreamed of becoming Mrs. Wayne Blair, married to one of the wealthiest and most important men in town, since she was a little girl, it was easy for him to ensnare her. We already know that all that glitters isn't gold though, and Wayne Blair was certainly no prize.
Growing up, Ellen heard about her grandmother Lola, who ran off to join the circus and escape an abusive husband. She watched her mother quietly accept her father's constant chiding and bullying because Daddy always made up for it with a new dress or some other trinket she desired. Ellen had learned the language of silence, knew how to pretend words didn't hurt, knew how to look at the murky world around her and pretend she was in a field of violets, smile and keep quiet. She'd learned the language of silence well. But there came a day when she could no longer keep quiet.
It's almost as if Ellen's parents knew what kind of man they were marrying her off to. Surely her mother recognized the signs of an abuser and her father saw a man that would keep his daughter in her place and both thought he was acceptable for her. No matter how much she tries to open her mother's eyes up to Wayne's atrocities, she insists that Ellen keep quiet and suffer through, as all women do. Ellen's great-aunt Ruth knew better. Shunned by Ellen's mother, Aunt Ruth is too eccentric, too outspoken, too everything. But she is also Ellen's saving grace.
The Language of Silence follows Ellen on a journey to reinvent herself and give herself a voice, aided by her feisty great-aunt Ruth. The journey takes her to the same circus that her grandmother Lola fled to years ago. There, Ellen finds a group of people willing to accept her as she presents herself, without question. She learns to trust and finds that family is not necessarily defined by birth, but also by where you plant yourself.
I absolutely loved this book. Each character within it served a purpose, no matter how small or how big their roles were. The author asks for a suspension of disbelief occasionally and, because she's written such a capable story line, you are willing do so and never question it.
Published: August 2014
Disclaimer: Copy of book received from publisher, opinions are my own.
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