The Fine Art of Keeping Quiet by Charity Tahmaseb

The Fine Art of Keeping Quiet by Charity Tahmaseb
Publisher: Collins Mark Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (200 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Sometimes staying silent is the biggest lie of all.

Sophomore Jolia does the one thing no one expects from the girl who has perfected the art of keeping quiet.

She joins the speech team.

Jolia can’t confess the real reason–not to her best friend, her new teammates, or even to crush-worthy rival Sam who offers to coach her in secret.

Keeping quiet might be the easy way out, but when what Jolia doesn’t say starts to hurt those around her, it might just cost her a best friend, her spot on the team, and even Sam.

But she isn’t the only one with a secret. It’s going to take words–her words–to make things right.

If only Jolia can find them.

The longer certain secrets are carried, the heavier they become. If only Jolia knew how to lighten her load.

I immediately sympathized with Jolia’s anxiety about her secret and what the reactions of other people might be if they figure it out. Her personality oozes out of every scene, and Ms. Tahmaseb did a great job at allowing readers to figure it out for ourselves instead of directly telling us what sort of person Jolia is.

It would have been helpful if more time had been spent showing why Jolia and Caro are such good friends. They don’t seem to have a lot in common, and their differences are a regular source of tension between them. Developing Caro’s character more fully would have made it easier for me to understand why she says and does certain things, and it also would have easily lead to a higher rating for this book.

Trying new stuff can be scary and exhilarating at the same time. My favorite scenes involve what happens to Jolia when she first begins competing alongside the rest of the members of her team. The author captures the highs and lows of participating in a public speaking event quite well, and I appreciated the fact that she wrote it from the perspective of someone who isn’t naturally good at it.

The romantic subplot never quite blended in with everything else that was going on in this tale. While the characters who are involved in it do have good chemistry, this story would have worked better if it had focused on developing a strong friendship between them first. Given their personalities and everything else that is happening in their lives, a romantic relationship between them would have made more sense in a sequel than in this particular story.

Mr. Henderson, the speech teacher, came across as a little gruff to me at first, but as I got to know him better I really liked him. Too often teachers are written as antagonists in young adult fiction, so it was refreshing to meet one who honestly cares about his students and wants to help them succeed. If Ms. Tahmaseb ever decides to write a sequel, I’d be interested in seeing what she does with this character as well.

The Fine Art of Keeping Quiet is a good choice for anyone who is shy or fears public speaking. It captures the fluttery feeling that develops when you’re pushed out of your comfort zone beautifully, and for this reason I recommend it to adult and young adult readers alike.

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