Yesterday, I read Silence, by Michelle Sagara. She's a fellow DAW author, a sweet, smart lady, and an all-around neat person whom I adore both personally and professionally. But before yesterday, I have never wanted to hug her for an hour and thank her forever.
Silence is a solid, interestingly-told YA novel that seems, superficially, to be just another wave in the current flood of YA supernatural. Being a wave isn't bad; I write urban fantasy, I am basically sponsoring a surfing competition. But there's something wonderful about diving into a wave and discovering infinitely more.
Emma, our protagonist, talks to dead people. She has several close female friends, including Allison, who would be a stereotypical geek in some stories, and Amy, who would be just as stereotypically a mean girl. Yet they work, and they make sense, because they are genuinely written as people. It's not presented as criminal to be smart, or to be pretty: it's just who you are. Emma's greatest asset is her niceness, a genuine generosity of spirit that is so very rare in heroines today. She reminded me of Vixy, and that's about the highest praise I have.
But really, where this book won me, and why I recommend it so readily, was when we met Michael. Michael, who is a high-functioning autistic who has been going to school with Emma and the others since kindergarten. Michael, who is in advanced math and science classes and doing just fine, thank you. Michael, whose friends care about him and look out for him, and who value his friendship and his place in their lives. He is presented with limitations, but so is every other character in the book. He's presented as a person, and for that alone, I will love Michelle forever.
Read Silence. Read it because it's awesome, and read it because any author who includes a complex, well-written, believable, believably autistic central character deserves our applause, and book sales are the best form of clapped hands, for an author.
My hat is off to her.