Silent to the Bone
by E. L. Konigsburg
This young-readers mystery by a two-time Newbery Medal winner is full of the qualities that make for a Newbery book. It is
educational but at the same time suspenseful, emotionally intense and rich in characterization.
13-year-old best friends Branwell and Connor talk to each other about everything; but when a pretty young English au pair
arrives to take care of Branwells infant half-sister, something changes in their friendship. Connor notices Branwell
becoming more silent and distant. Six weeks later the child, Nikki, is seriously hurt and left in a coma. The au pair
blames Branwell. He has nothing to say for himself. In fact, since the accident, he either cannot or will not say a word to
anybody. As little Nikki struggles for life, it looks as if Bran may take the blame for hurting her.
Only his best friend, Connor, doesnt believe he did any such thing. And Connor goes to see Branwell every day, working to
break down the wall of silence that keeps him from telling what really happened the day Nikki was hurt. Aided by his own
half-sister, Margaret, and what little communication he is able to establish with his speechless friend, Connor carries on
his own investigation. And what he finds may prove either the severest test or the greatest proof of his friendship with
There are complex people in this book--some of them are a bit sinister, others rather pitiful--but Connor is a sympathetic
narrator. You sympathize with him even when he is not behaving particularly well; and through him, you learn to sympathize
even with some twisted and broken people. I am touched by his loyalty to Bran and deeply moved by the dilemma in which Bran
finds himself. It saddens me to think how many families, how many lives, have been destroyed because someone was too ashamed
to speak. The question Could that happen to us? and the question Will that happen to Bran and his family? will keep you
turning the pages, more and more eagerly, up to the storys perfect ending.
Recommended Age: 13+
September 3, 2004
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