About the Book
Book: Seeing Voices
Author: Olivia Smit
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Release Date: April 15, 2020
Skylar Brady has a for her life—until a car accident changes everything.
Skylar knows exactly what she wants, and getting in a car accident the summer before twelfth grade isn’t supposed to be part of the plan. Although she escapes mostly unharmed, the accident has stolen more than just her hearing from her: she’s also lost the close bond she used to have with her brother.
When her parents decide to take a house-sitting job halfway across the province, it’s just one more thing that isn’t going according to plan. As the summer progresses, Skylar begins to gain confidence in herself, but as she tries to mend her relationship with her brother, she stumbles upon another hidden trauma. Suddenly, she’s keeping as many secrets as she’s struggling to uncover and creating more problems than she could ever hope to solve.
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About the Author
Olivia Smit loves baking, visiting small towns, and writing stories that face hard truth with hope and encouragement. Olivia has an Honours Specialization in Creative Writing, English Language, and Literature and lives in Canada with her family. Seeing Voices is her first novel. Learn more at https://oliviasmit.ca/.
More from Olivia
Every now and then a book comes along that just surprises you in such a delightful and unexpected way that you read it almost straight through in one sitting. I try not to look at the synopses of books that I intend to read so that I don’t enter into the story with any preconceived notions, good or bad, and so that I don’t end up piecing together the plot threads too quickly. Approaching this particular book, the first thing that came to mind was synesthesia because of the title. As it turns out, that is not what it references, but it is still apropos and very insightful; someone who loses or is lacking one sense instinctively adjusts as well as possible by strengthening their other senses. I find this intriguing, so I was engaged with the story from page one, and I can happily say that it only gets better!
“Seeing Voices” may be written primarily for a young adult audience, but I guarantee that anyone older than that will enjoy it immensely also. Olivia Smit writes a stunning debut novel that deals with challenging real-life issues without being too heavy, taking on strained relationships, the effects of trauma, and the ebb and flow of grief. This is all set against a quiet yet powerful backdrop of faith, as exemplified by one of the major secondary characters, Cam. Because the tough situations are not tidily swept up with easy answers and happily-ever-after moments, the story, and thereby Cam’s faith in God, is all the more realistic and relatable. I love that Cam is so sincere and compassionate, yet does not merely spout Bible verses or platitudes but instead truly lives out his faith. My favorite monologue in the book is Cam’s heartfelt response to Skylar’s pain: “I don’t know why the accident happened to you, Skylar. I don’t know why bad things happen to good people. All I can say is that I know God isn’t punishing you, and He isn’t safe, not like a helmet or seat belt. His love for you isn’t easy or comfortable, but it is strong. His love for you is so strong.”
Part of what makes this novel so eloquently compelling is its basis in relationships. Skylar Brady’s post-accident life is scarred by the changes in her relationship with her older brother, Mike, as well as with her closest friends. During the transformative summer in which the story takes place, she forms new bonds with new friends while also trying to mend those from her prior life. Even how she interacts with her parents has fundamentally changed, and I obtained a newfound respect for those living with hearing loss. I realized that it’s not as easy as using hearing aids, which amplify all sound, including wind and background noise, and which may still require the person to lip-read, as with Skylar. She comments that it’s “Like there’s a haunting magic in the noise of it all, and when you take that away, get rid of the Pied Piper, there’s not a whole lot of reason to run along with the others.” Her spiritual awakening unfolds slowly, and along the way more trials occur. Skylar’s story, told in her own voice in the first-person, becomes all the more captivating because it meets readers where they are, especially those who are unsure about God. Circumstances in our lives may change, but God never does.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
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