The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind
By Meg Medina
Expected publication March 13, 2012 by Candlewick Press
Sonia was born the night of the worst storm her poor town has seen. And when the end of the storm seemed to coincide with her birth, the townspeople imbued Sonia with mystical powers. Now 16, Sonia is bent under the weight of her townspeople's prayers and is not sure how much more she can take. When a young boy for whom she had been praying is found dead, she begins to imagine escaping from the pressure. When an opportunity arises, she takes it. But disaster may await her in the big city...
This was one of the books I picked up randomly at Midwinter. I hadn't heard anything about it but the blurb on the back sounded interesting enough that I thought I'd give it a try. Now, I've read it and I feel decidedly ambivalent about it. I feel like this book doesn't really know what it wants to be - is it historical fiction? It might be, or maybe it just takes place in a remote enough location that the world of the book is untouched by modern conveniences. Is this a coming-of-age story? It could be, though I don't feel like we see Sonia grow enough (more on that later). Is this a paranormal novel? It hints at the mystical, with visitations from Sonia's deceased grandmother and the town's belief in Sonia's supernatural powers. But there is no suggestion that these things are actually happening. In today's literature, genre is increasingly hard to define - more and more books cross the boundaries between the various genres (with varying degrees of success). I don't have a problem with books that are hard to define. But I don't feel like this book was successful enough in any one direction to work for me. Additionally, even though we are treated, for the most part, to Sonia's point of view, I don't feel like we really get to know her enough to care about what she's growing through. And, as I mentioned before, I don't think she grows all that much over the course of the novel. Yes, she learns to stand up for herself and what she wants out of life, but I don't know that this characteristic wasn't present all along - she just suppressed it. I feel like most of what happened throughout the course of the novel was pretty predictable and some of the storylines didn't seem to go anywhere (the bit with Umberto, for instance). All in all, I think this book was trying to be many different things and for that reason, didn't really succeed at being any one. There are moments where I felt pulled into the story, but they were fleeting.
Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.