Haunting, mysterious and often shocking, Hush is the story of what happens when we find we cannot speak, even to those we love most.
Read an extract
Lily Emmett has suffered from selective mutism since childhood and still struggles to see the value of everyday speech. Her sister, Connie, has always spoken for her, and her partner, Richard, has learnt to translate her movements so that they share a unique form of communication.
But when the two sisters return to their childhood home after their mother’s death, the visit inspires memories of the event that first rendered Lily silent, and still haunts them both. The resulting search for the truth about what happened takes them back to a childhood shaped by bullying and familial breakdown, and unearths the secrets that lie at the heart of the sisters’ relationship.
Hush is the fantastic debut novel of Sarah Marshall Ball.
Kirkus Reviews19 August 2015
As the past narrative cuts to unsettling, vivid memories of Lily’s childhood – her mother’s depression, vicious mockery at school, and trips to stone-walled institutions in efforts to 'cure' her mutism – present-day Lily tries to work backward and unearth the lost memory of what exactly she saw the night Billy died. At a crossroads, she and Richard move to her old family home in Drayfield, empty since her mother’s death. Marshall-Ball does an admirable job of seamlessly switching between the past and present and building a creeping sense of unease that’s especially visceral when Lily is a child, shuttled from institution to home and back again... A mystery worth reading for its close attention to the strangeness of family, childhood, and memory.
Being Anne1 July 2015
Sometimes it's rather good to feel you've discovered something a little special that you can tell others about. I usually read pretty quickly, but this really isn't a book to be rushed – it's taken me a couple of days to read, and that's an indication that this is a book to be savoured. It deals with what appears an unfamiliar subject in selective mutism as the result of a trauma, but it also has among its themes the more familiar ones of families and the secrets they keep, bullying and its consequences, nature and nurture, relationships and their many differing problems, and the healing power of love.
Hush is a really compelling read with a disturbing edge of darkness. It is also quite beautifully written – poetic, emotionally authentic, with beautiful descriptions, and relationships described with absolute perfection. The relationship between Lily and Richard is mesmerising, the kind of love we should all experience – he even tells Lily bedtime stories, thoroughly beautiful ones that will break your heart.
I really enjoyed this book – never simply a love story or a coming-of-age tale and not a thriller in a conventional sense, but a book I'm delighted to have had the opportunity to read.