Chayll, Eishes. 2011. HUSH. New York: Walker. ISBN 9780802720887 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]
Eishes Chayll (a pseudonym) prosaically examines incest in a closed community in this hard-hitting novel that is not for every teen reader. Gittel is thirteen in 2003 when she witnesses her best friend Devory being joined “under the covers” by a brother and “forced to do something,” something Gittel does not understand. Soon after, Devory commits suicide. Four years later as Gittel prepares for her arranged marriage—the negotiations with the groom’s family, meeting the groom, the actual ceremony, what happened to Devory begins to make sense, but Gittel knows that her standing as a desirable woman depends on her silence. While the external plot revolves around the marriage, early married life, and the birth of her first child, the internal plot deals with her struggle to make the community, especially the men who are the leaders, admit and accept responsibility for the incest and abuse of young girls. When Gittel decided she must confront the leaders of the community, only trouble ensues. This disturbing novel examines hard issues and is often difficult to read—but it is an important one and is written for teens from a teen’s point of view. Gittel is a strong, well-developed, unforgettable character.
This is an excellent book to share with school counselors and medical professionals who deal with abused teens. It is also a strong book club selection for your more mature and thoughtful readers who can handle difficult subjects. It is not a book for every reader, but it is an important book that should be available in high school and public libraries.
Other books dealing with abuse, incest, and sexual abuse:
Suzuma, Tabitha. FORBIDDEN. ISBN 9781442419957
Teller, Janine. NOTHING. ISBN. 9781416985792
By Janet Hilbun