Saturday, April 13, 2013

Louder Than Words

by Laurie Plissner

Louder Than Words by Laurie Plissner is an interestng and fast paced read. To call Sasha, the main character in this story a sassy young girl would seem somewhat unusual, considering that she is unable to speak. We begin the story when she turns thirteen, and wakes in a hospital with her Aunt Charlotte at her side. Sasha has no idea where she is or why, because as hard as she tries, she can't remember why she is in the hospital. Her main concern in those first moments are for her family. She senses something has happened, but can't remember what. To find her mother's sister at her bedside instead of her mother is somehow not right. Sasha wants answers, and she wants them fast. This is when she finds that she is unable to speak. She opens her mouth to question Charlotte and nothing comes out. The inability to speak is a shock to Charlotte as well, and as she hurries to find paper and pencils for Sasha, a doctor comes in and things begin to happen in a hurry. There is no time for Charlotte to explain to her niece what has happened. Sasha doesn't know that she is the only survivor of a car crash that took the lives of both of her parents and her slightly older sister. No idea, until one of the doctors investigating her muteness inadvertently lets it slip. 

The news is almost unbearable. But there is no way to turn back the clock and make the accident not happen.The only choice is to move forward. Since she suffered no apparent physical injuries, and there was no physical injury to her throat, vocal chords or larynx, Sasha's inability to speak at all was diagnosed as Hysterical Mutism. This disorder is most commonly found in children and adolescents after a traumatic event. In some cases, like Sasha's, the young person is unable to speak at all. In other cases, it is possible for the affected person to speak to specific and well trusted person within their circle of friends or family. Sasha learns to communicate with a voice synthesizing device, which she calls her Hawkie Talkie, as it is the same sort of device that the famous physicist Stephen Hawking uses. 

Charlotte and her husband Stuart welcome Sasha into their family, they love and cherish her and do everything in their power to help her to find her voice again. According to all the experts, it is simply a matter of getting past the traumatic moment in whatever way it is possible to do so. But for Sasha, with no real memories of the accident, and not feeling the need to seek those memories, four years pass with no success. She is a studious and mostly quiet girl with a best friend called Jules, who has stood strong by her side from the days they were toddlers, through the accident and beyond. Sasha does have a difficult side, and this emerges through inappropriate behavior in school which often lands her in the midst of what you might call a bad crowd, as she is often sittin in detention. Unfortunately, it is there that she comes to the attention of some unruly jocks who learn her after school routine. Despite her school time behaviors, Sasha's favorite place to spend her time out of school is the library. One day she is joined in her little corner of the library by a good looking boy, and that moment has a momentous affect on the next part of her life

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