I’ll be thoroughly frank here, I didn’t really know much about selective mutism prior to reading this book. I knew a little, but certainly not enough. Even so, I did a bit of reading and while I do find the subject broached rather impressively by Collins throughout her book, After Zero, other aspects of the novel were rather disappointing for me. Detailing the experiences of a troubled young girl as she navigates public school for the first time after spending the entirety of her life taught at home, it isn’t long before young Elise finds herself fearful of all the ways in which social interaction can go wrong.
And to Elise, naturally, the only way to ensure nothing goes wrong is to say absolutely nothing at all.
A very serious anxiety disorder that can certainly have some damagaing effects on the children who suffer from it, selective mutism is something that quickly takes over Elise’s life. She works exceedingly hard to make sure that she says as little as possible, even going as far as to keep a tally of all the words that leave her mouth throughout the day. This portion of the plot was well thought out and eye opening, something I found myself appreciating as I read the book.
Unfortunately, strange occurrences with a stuffed raven protector and hallucinations made this novel a bit of a stretch for me. I struggled to buy in go certain pieces of the story, particularly those that involved her mother, grandmother, and some other family members. It just seemed like far too much drama to make sense and ultimately took away from the real issues of Elise’s anxiety disorder. I wont go so far as to say this is a bad book, but I definitely enjoyed reading it a lot less than I had initially suspected I would.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.