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The Silent Listener by Lyn Yeowart

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Published: February 2, 2021

Penguin Books Australia

I received a copy of this book for free, and I leave my review voluntarily.

Lyn Yeowart is a professional writer and editor with more than 25 years of experience writing and editing everything from captions for artworks to speeches for executives. Her debut novel, The Silent Listener, is loosely based on events from her childhood growing up in rural Victoria. She is now happily ensconced in Melbourne, where there is very little mud but lots of books.

‘I’m not going to be a silent listener ever again.’

Joy lives on a dairy farm with her older brother and her parents. It’s a hard life, her father being a pious and difficult man and her mother unable to stop the abuse in the house.

This book was kind of a whirlwind. Told alternating between the past and the present, we learn that growing up, and the Henderson house was rarely filled with laughter and happiness.

George was a hard man. Hardworking, hard praying, and he wore two faces. The one at home and the one in town. Joy didn’t have the soft, lovely childhood she so often dreamed of, but she survived, which is more than most can say.

The secrets were kept, and Joy grew up knowing how to present what people wanted to see while hiding the truth. It’s not a lie if you just don’t tell.

The first half or so of this novel is relatively dry and slightly depressing. But as we get over the hump and free fall to the ending, the twists and the truths that come catapulting are insane.

I did not see the twists coming—any of them. I’m usually fairly good and figuring out the twist before it happens (unless it’s a KMod novel, then I am always wrong) but the twists in this book were very well played.

The build-up was on the slower side. So having patience and a willingness to finish the book will help. The ending is worth the wait. The final twists are so insane you’ll be left speechless. A darkly twisted novel about poverty, abuse, struggle, and adolescence, this book will take your breath away.

As a debut novel, there is one hell of an ending, and as the pieces start falling into place and as the truth gets uncovered, you will not be able to put this book down. Prepare yourself for one hell of a ride.

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