Paperback review: Ethan's Voice, By Rachel Carter


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The Independent Culture

This unusual and thoroughly engaging children's novel tells the story of a boy who stopped speaking when he was six, though he can't remember why.

He lives on a houseboat, where his parents have educated him since he became mute. One day his social worker raises the prospect of his returning to school, making Ethan sick with dread. A new boat moors up nearby, and he befriends a girl his own age, Polly, who's fun, adventurous, and doesn't seem to care that he doesn't talk. And this makes Ethan realise that he really does want to speak again – if, after all this time, he can bring himself to. It's simply told but compelling, and I spent the whole book willing Ethan to say something. A reminder that children's literature can take on serious themes.