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by Rachel Carter
Author: Rachel Carter
‘Ethan’s Voice’ is a lovely story, complex yet simple, where Rachel Carter shows her own very distinct voice. It is the tale of eleven year old Ethan who has elective mutism. I have always been drawn towards this book in stores, perhaps partly due to the beautiful cover design, but inside it is even more compelling.
Bethany Wood (15)
How do you begin to tell your story when you can't speak?
Ethan loves living on the canal. He is home-schooled, so can learn everything he needs to know from books and his mum. Isolated from his peers, his social worker is keen for Ethan to return to school but Ethan does not feel ready - no one on the boat laughs at him because he doesn't talk.
Ethan can't remember exactly when or why he stopped talking. It is only when he meets Polly, a girl who has recently moved to the canal, that he begins to wish things were different. Polly doesn't mind that he doesn't talk, and tentatively he begins to show her his world, the riverbank, and the significant den that his father built for him. His new-found friendship with Polly encourages him to search for his lost memories, and Ethan begins to believe that maybe, just maybe, he could want to speak again and face the hidden fears that made him mute…
Even though Ethan does not say anything, his inner voice and personality lift off the pages, helping the reader understand and feel his frustration. We follow Ethan’s journey with his friend, and together they make big wishes and form a magical bond. It is these bonds that make Ethan's journey believable and whole.
I love how Ethan's tale is told with such a sweet and light touch despite the difficult issues involved. It is written with a sensitivity and understanding that makes it accessible for younger readers, and I spent the length of the book willing Ethan to say something.
I would recommend ‘Ethan’s Voice’ to confident readers from around age nine and over, however many ages could take something away from this engaging book.