Louder Than Words – book review

Louder Than Words

Louder Than Words is an emotional and addictive book, written by Laura Jarratt.

Rafi hasn’t spoken in eight years. Her progressive mutism went so far that now she can’t even comprehend the thought of talking anytime soon. But now it’s up to her to tell her brother’s story, because now he can’t speak either…

Rafi has always idolised her seventeen year-old brother, Silas. Popular, caring and borderline genius, Silas is everything Rafi ever wanted to be. Silas is the type of protective brother that always makes sure Rafi is with him, which means that Rafi gets to hear all sorts of things that younger sisters wouldn’t normally be a part of. Like when Silas hacked a gaming site to help out his friend Josie, who was being bullied for something incomprehensibly awful her ex did to her.

As Josie and Rafi spend more time together, Rafi finds herself with a proper friend for the first time in her life. Growing closer, Rafi realises she wants to escape the bubble she’s been trapped inside and make her way back into the world – and this will happen by learning to speak again. But Silas has found a new interest too – one that’s pulling him away from everything and everyone that was once important to him. Will Rafi be able to find the words to save her brother before it’s too late?

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I absolutely, completely, 100% loved reading Louder Than Words. I adored Laura Jarratt’s two other books, Skin Deep and By Any Other Name and so when I saw Louder Than Words in my favourite bookshop, I kind of had a mini freak out – but only the best kind of ‘freak out’. Both of Laura’s other books dealt with some pretty major issues and I was pleased to see that this book was going to tackle another one – this time it would be progressive mutism. I hadn’t heard of this before and I was looking forward to learning more about what that actually meant, and of course, being inside some of the characters heads and seeing how they dealt with this. Like the other books by Laura Jarratt, I fell head over heals for this one as well. Laura’s writing style really appeals to me. I love the way things are described and I was completely emotionally invested in the characters and the storyline in Louder Than Words. I couldn’t have dreamed of having a more satisfying book to read.

This book was definitely very grabbing. From the first page, I was pulled into Rafi’s world and I knew I wouldn’t be able to put this book down until I had read it all. Needless to say, I had finished this book in one sitting. It wasn’t that this book was short page-wise, I just couldn’t put it down! And because this book was so addictive, I finished it with the feeling it was a short book, only because I loved it so much. I would have stayed with this plot and these characters for over a thousand pages if it meant I could spend just a little bit more time with them. I think it’s amazing that an author can have this type of affect over people. I felt as though this book literally was holding onto me and it would have been physically impossible for me to tear my eyes from the pages even if I tried. Which I didn’t. And I wouldn’t. Ever. Because this book is just so fantastic.

I felt like I could really connect to the main character, Rafi. We both share such a huge love for words and writing and poems and everything of the sort. She is an aspiring author and she’s fourteen years old. In some books, I find that the authors try too hard to make their characters sound young and teenager-y and it comes across as fake. However, this was definitely not the case in this book. Rafi thought about things in a sophisticated way, but it never felt too old for her. I felt as though Laura Jarratt got Rafi’s ‘voice’ perfect. I know that Rafi is a progressive mute, but I really felt like I got a good sense of her voice just by being inside her head the whole time. It was really interesting to be able to do that and I enjoyed getting to know Rafi.

Another character I absolutely loved was Josie. She is one of those people that always tries to look on the bright side of things and tries her best to be the person she wants to be, not what other people make her. I loved watching the friendship between her and Rafi grow and it was really beautiful to see Josie help Rafi and support her in her decisions. The interactions between Josie and Rafi were really fun to read and the pair definitely had some great moments together. I had mixed feelings about Silas, which was obvious that the author wanted readers to feel that way. Silas started off as such an amazingly kind and helpful person who was Rafi’s best friend. I loved the way Silas stood up for what he believed in and didn’t let other people put him or those he knew down. He didn’t tolerate nuisance from anyone and I really liked that about him and how utterly supportive he was of Rafi. But then he met Lara. I never quite knew where I stood with Lara. She made me feel uneasy and I hated seeing how obsessed Silas became with her and what affect that had on Rafi.

All the characters in this book were intriguing and enjoyable to get to know.
Another thing I really liked learning about was the reason why Rafi became mute. I found myself being able to relate to her reasons and it was really understandable why she would progress to that stage. Learning about Rafi’s home life was interesting, but also a little saddening. I felt sorry for her because she believed the rest of her family was so special and so talented and so gifted and she didn’t think she fit in with them. As I’m an only child, I don’t understand really what that would be like. To always have pressure placed on you to live up to the expectations of your parents because of how your older siblings acted. But I do understand that from my friends and the small family I have. I get that people always try to make you into the person they want you to be. But if there’s one lesson I took away from the book, it’s this – don’t let other people change you. They’re not the people you have to live with. You’re not stuck with them for the rest of your life, but you are stuck with you. We all try to be the person we have always wanted to be and not change ourselves for anyone. This book had many powerful lessons and I definitely won’t be forgetting them any time soon.

When I picked up this book, never in my wildest dreams did I think this book would also be about protesters and anarchy in a way, but I found myself really liking it. I liked seeing the effects this had not only on the community, but also on the people protesting. It also got quite scary in some points, which was entertaining to read. I was really happy with the ending of this book. I laughed, I cried… this book had me feeling a range of emotions. I couldn’t have wished for a more satisfying read. I’d give Louder Than Words by Laura Jarratt a score of 10 out of 10. I’m dying to read whatever Laura writes next!

Skin Deep – book review

Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt

Skin Deep is the thought-provoking and gripping novel by Laura Jarratt.

After a horrifying crash that has left her scarred both emotionally and physically, Jenna must learn how to live again. Before the crash, fourteen-year-old Jenna was fun and outgoing. Now, she will do practically anything to stop people staring at the scar on her face and giving her sympathetic looks. All she wants is to keep to herself and to be invisible. But that all changes when Ryan comes to town.

Sixteen-year-old Ryan is a traveller, and also someone completely out of her league. But he’s different from all the other boys she’s met. He’s kind, funny and thinks she’s beautiful even with the scar on her face. Jenna starts to be more open around him and slowly comes out of her shell. But then something shocking happens in the community. The police suspect that Ryan is a killer. The killer of the boy who scarred Jenna’s face.

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I completely loved reading this book. I was grabbed from the beginning and was taken on a journey of love, loss and learning how to live, not just exist. This book was beautifully written and the moral of this novel is something we should all live by. This book is about how scars/disabilities/injuries don’t define people and there is more to a person than that. In the book, it says: ‘They’re just scars. They’re not you.’ That’s exactly how I feel. I feel as though these things shouldn’t be the defining characteristic of a person, only something that tells a story. ‘Scars are beautiful too, you know. They’re a badge we wear for the world to show we’ve lived… And that we’ve survived. So they have a beauty all of their own.’ Laura Jarratt is really brave for taking on a topic like this one and she did it extremely well.

It really opened my eyes to how people who are victims of such terrible injuries, disabilities or crashes like Jenna must feel. The way the characters were written made me connect to them and the book had me feeling all the emotions that Jenna and Ryan would be experiencing. Like Laura’s other book, By Any Other Name, I mainly loved Skin Deep for it’s unique and complex characters.

Jenna is quite a sensitive girl, which is to be expected for someone who has just survived a fatal crash. At first, I thought she was a bit weak and I felt as though she should be happy that she survived. I’d like to think that if I were in that situation, I would be thankful that I lived and I wouldn’t care if I were scarred from the experience. However in reality, I would probably react in the same way as Jenna does. We would all be lying if we said we 100% didn’t care what anyone else thought of us. Everyone wants to fit in and feel as though he or she belongs. In that way, that just shows how realistic Jenna’s character was. My opinion towards Jenna completely changed as the book progressed and I realised how brave she actually was.

Ryan was an amazing person. I really felt as though he was real, not just someone in a book. He restored my hope in humanity because I feel as though there are people out there who don’t care whether people have scars or injuries and love them anyway. Ryan was the perfect example of how people should aim to live: with honestly, acceptance and being open-minded. I believe that after reading this book, I have become a more open and accepting person. I think I know how it feels to be ‘the Other’ in society now and Ryan has showed me that even though there may be people who act stupidly and with no respect out there, there are also people who are kind and accepting towards everyone. I hope now that I am a person in the latter group. But not everything about Ryan is “serious”. Ryan is an incredibly funny person who made me laugh out loud in an embarrassing way in public spaces. He could pick out the good things of even the worst of situations. He was optimistic and stood up for what he believed in. Sure, Ryan is flawed like every normal person, but his flaws make him real. Flaws and all, I loved Ryan. The relationship between Ryan and Jenna felt completely realistic and not at all forced.

I loved every aspect of this book. The plot was really great and the twist towards the end was very surprising. I absolutely loved the ending, yet I was a little sad that this book was over. I will definitely be rereading this one sometime soon. I’d give Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt a score of 9 out of 10. If you haven’t read any books by Laura Jarratt, I really recommend reading them! Laura is an amazing author and I look forward to reading whatever she writes next.