I’m currently back living at my mother’s place, (Covid, landlord troubles, suffocating monotony of the big city, it’s a long and sad story) but the good thing about it is, that it gives me ample opportunity to revisit my favourite childhood books!
That’s how I picked up The Raging Quiet again, a story about a teenager, who marries a much older and wealthier man, only to be widowed after a few days and now stranded in a village that’s behaving more than hostile towards her. Lonely as she is, Marnie befriends the crazy outcast boy living in the fields, except that he isn’t mentally ill, she realises he’s deaf and develops a way of talking to him.
I remember loving this book as a very young teen, but I also remember being a bit scandalised by it, since it features a rape and a sex scene. And yep, that remains. Nothing explicit happens, it’s not spelled-out, but the violence is there and it’s very clear what’s happening in both scenes. I’m still glad to this day that my father bought me this without ever reading it before!
Other than those two scenes it’s a really engaging story that eschews most typical YA tropes (didn’t like them as a kid, most certainly don’t like them now). The main character is capable but properly flawed as well, she makes mistakes that have consequences and there is actual growth happening. The love story develops slowly and is fully relatable, you can see why these two young people would fall in love with each other. The ending may seem a bit rushed but while it’s a happy one, not all threads are pleasantly tied up with a bow, there’s still room for change and you know that the protagonists’ story will continue with its ups and downs.
Even today I’m not quite sure where or when this takes place, it could be anything from the 12th to 18th century, but it doesn’t really matter. Sherryl Jordan paints the society that surrounds Marnie colourful enough without any specific markers and the book shows how closed-off communities deal with otherness painfully well. Out of the number of things that make the protagonists different, Raven’s deafness is handled especially well, the author apparently has worked with deaf kids before and you can tell. His excitement, frustration and resulting anger are very well written and treated with respect.
I definitely recommend this to anyone who’s into historical fiction, it’s an easy read for adults and has the potential to become something very special to teens.