The Silent Boy by Lois Lowry (unabridged audiobook read by Karen Allen; 3 hrs 57 min on 4 discs): I was kind of disturbed by this tale. It is told by Katy, a young girl at the turn of the century, about a boy named Jacob, the titular “silent” boy. He is what modern folks would refer to as mentally challenged, speaking no words but able to accurately replicate the sounds he hears, such as a grindstone in motion or a horse’s whinny. This is not a light read, and may be one that haunts me for quite a while. I can’t really say why without giving away the ending, but if you’ve read it, you probably understand what I mean. There’s no happy ending, and from the start Katy warns the reader that most would find this tale “too depressing”. And it’s not that, exactly, but it’s definitely sad. Well written, but very sad.
A note on the audio: I am often wary of movie actors as narrators, but Allen was fine. She didn’t really do any character voices, but her soft and husky voice lent itself quite well to the general tone of the story. That said, I think this book would be better read traditionally, as it was written based on a series of real photographs which appear at the beginning of each chapter. Being able to see those would, I imagine, add quite a bit to the realism.
Also posted on BookCrossing.