Winter’s Silence is the story of Emily, a six-year-old Jewish girl, who is going through a really rough time. She is a very creative, intelligent child. A large portion of her time is spent in daydreams, the only way she can escape all of the turmoil surrounding her. Through her imagination, she becomes a North Pole explorer, a spy carrying a secret note, or a robot. This is probably a good thing because no little child should have to face what Emily is experiencing.
Emily is Jewish. She refuses to practice Christmas carols for the upcoming Christmas concert because she feels that God doesn’t want her to sing about Jesus. A note she needs to bring back signed the next day is sent home to her parents. She really tries to get one of her parents to sign the note but has a great amount of difficulty getting either of them to pay attention to what she is saying. Reason? Her little brother has just been diagnosed with autism. Her parents, especially the mother, are totally wrapped up in trying to find a cure for him. Tension in the house is thick. Feelings are easily hurt. Emily doesn’t understand what is happening around her.
Religious discrimination is never a pretty thing. Just because someone believes differently than you do is never a reason to torment or poke fun at that person, especially if it is a child. Her refusal to sing Christmas songs unleashes yet more discrimination on this sweet and innocent child.
She doesn’t understand what is going on with her brother. Her parents are so wrapped up in him that they almost ignore Emily, neglecting even to explain autism to her. Desperate to get attention from her parents, she feigns sickness and tells her mom that she has caught autism from her brother.
There are only two adults that stick up for her. Both are told by Emily’s parents that what is going on with Emily doesn’t concern them. When the story ends, Emily does receive some heartfelt affection from her mother. The way the story ends leads me to believe that a sequel to the book may be in the future.
The book is extremely well written. Not only has Ms. Silberstein managed to write an entire book through the eyes of a young child, she succeeds in causing the reader to experience the same emotions as her well–rounded characters.
The author sent me a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review. If you would like to purchase Ms. Silberstein’s book from Amazon, I have provided a link below for you.
Amazon Link: Winter’s Silence
Recommended Article: Stephanie Silberstein Interview – Religious Discrimination, Characters, and Faith
About the Author:
Stephanie Silberstein not only writes about heartbreak—she’s lived it. She grew up as the only Jewish child in her neighborhood, enduring covert anti-Semitism during the annual Christmas concert and the occasional openly prejudiced remark. Her experiences were the basis of her first novel, Winter’s Silence, which came out in 2008.