A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Daughter of Deep Silence is author Carrie Ryan's story of revenge and romance, based in part on the classic novel The Count of Monte Cristo and the first season of the soapy ABC drama Revenge. The romance includes many descriptions of first love, desire, making out, and intimacy, but there isn't any actual sex. The language is occasionally coarse, with "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and "bitch" peppered throughout the dialogue. The violence is graphic and upsetting, particularly the recollections about what happened on the Persephone. Although the book deals with upsetting details about a mass murder, the killing of loved ones, and the cold details of how to pull off a revenge scheme, it's not so intense that a mature seventh-grader won't be able to grasp and enjoy it.
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What's the story?
DAUGHTER OF DEEP SILENCE is the story of one young woman's plan for revenge. The summer she was 14, Frances Mace and her parents went on a luxury cruise that changed her life forever. On the Persephone, she became fast friends with beautiful, wealthy Libby O'Martin and had a vacation romance with handsome Grey, the son of a South Carolina senator. But about 10 days into the cruise, a catastrophe struck the ship. Frances is one of only three survivors -- and the other two, Grey and Senator Wells, say one thing happened, but Frances knows it was something else. Libby's grieving father believes the now-orphaned Frances' story and offers her his protection by allowing her to take on Libby's identity. Four years later, following Mr. O'Martin's death, Frances, now living as Libby, returns to South Carolina to claim the one thing she wants most: revenge on Grey and his lying father -- if her feelings for Grey and the real Libby's former love Shepherd don't get in the way.
Is it any good?
If readers understand that this riveting book is more Revenge than Count of Monte Cristo, it won't be a surprise that the revenge plot eventually takes a backseat to soapier issues. Most prominent of those is Frances' inability to move beyond the memories of her first fling with Grey. Yes, she's bent on revenge, but she's also 18 and apparently never dated or kissed anyone in the four traumatic years following the events on the Persephone. So even though part of her plan is to make Grey fall in love with Libby and disclose the truth, Frances can't help but fall for the guy a second time.
The intensity of the two central romances -- Frances and Grey and Libby and Shepherd at age 14 -- may be difficult for some readers to get past. Shepherd is the one person who can foil Frances' plans, because he knew Libby from childhood and was her first love. Their love story is more believable, and he's the most fully realized secondary character in the book (and no doubt most readers' favorite). Grey and Frances/Libby are harder to root for, since the situation is so fraught with the trauma, stress, and grief of what happened on the cruise. Ryan, best known for her engaging zombie trilogy, knows how to write tension and romance, and if you don't mind the idea of freshmen falling madly, truly, deeply in love, then this is a delicious guilty pleasure you'll find hard to put down until the anticlimactic end.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about revenge stories. How does this one draw on famous revenge plots? Compare and contrast the protagonist's journey with that of other avenging main characters.
Discuss the two central romantic relationships in the book. Do you think one was more believable than the other? Is 14 or 15 too young to be in the kind of love that lingers for years and years?
Why are assumed-identity stories so compelling? Can you fully impersonate someone else? How could you, like Frances, get "caught"?
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