On 24th November, Yasmin and her ten-year-old daughter Ruby, who is deaf, set off on a journey across Northern Alaska. They’re searching for Ruby’s father, missing in the arctic wilderness, but somebody is tracking them through the dark. Gemma Cockrell reviews.
I picked this book up because I enjoyed Rosamund Lupton’s bestseller Sister, which was the fastest-selling debut novel by a British author of 2010, so I thought I’d give this one a go too. I was excited to be whisked off into the unfamiliar territory of Alaska, whilst learning more about the deaf community.
The setting of this book was definitely the highlight. Lupton described the Alaskan landscapes so beautifully that I felt as if I was experiencing the blizzards myself, even though the worst I’m having to cope with right now is the harsh winds of February as I’m walking across University Park campus.
for the most part I thought both characters had distinct voices
I had very mixed opinions on the characters. Ruby is a strong-willed, complex and interesting character, and I imagine she would be hugely important and relatable to readers who are members of the deaf community themselves. It is clear that Lupton did a great deal of research to write this novel, and it shines through in the way that Ruby is presented.
It tackles the difficulties that children within the deaf community face in their day-to-day lives, as they try to find their voice within society. The book flits between telling the story from Ruby’s perspective to Yasmin’s perspective, and whilst this back-and-forth can get a little confusing at times, for the most part I thought both characters had distinct voices and were easy to distinguish.
However, the character of Yasmin is not as credible. She is initially presented as a very intelligent and educated women, who has studied physics at university, but some of the decisions she makes throughout the story seem utterly ridiculous and not at all how a rational physicist would act in the situations that she is presented with. The amount of danger she puts Ruby in throughout the story makes her seem like an irrational and reckless mother, and I don’t personally know any mothers who would voluntarily put their ten-year-old daughter through a situation this dangerous with such little reservation.
it is so far-fetched it is quite frankly ridiculous
The plot of the novel is ultimately what lets it down the most, because it is entirely unrealistic. We are expected to believe that Yasmin and Ruby, who have never even visited Alaska before, are able to survive a perilous journey across the arctic wilderness, receiving only minor ice burns and scrapes along the way. It is so far-fetched it is quite frankly ridiculous, but I felt that if the ending of the story was satisfying and wrapped things up nicely, then maybe, this wouldn’t matter so much and it could be redeemed.
too many questions left unanswered
However, unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Somehow, even though the antagonist of the entire story has tracked them down, is stood right in front of them, and is holding a gun, we are supposed to believe that neither character is left severely injured. Instead of shooting them, he just… walks off, despite having previously tried to shoot Ruby earlier on.
It seemed to come to a sudden ending, and there were too many questions left unanswered, so even though I enjoyed aspects of the novel, I think there were too many character flaws and plot issues for me to feel satisfied and rewarded at the end.
Where did the antagonist go? Did he ever get arrested? Did Yasmin and Ruby ever actually get rescued? I guess I’ll never know.
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