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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written
What happens to a family when their only child decides to stop talking? As the fifth psychiatrist to which her parents bring 11-year old Isabelle says, there is nothing clinically wrong. Yet, he explains, her silence "is not because she does not want to speak." This second, and beautifully written, novel by Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop sensitively examines how all of...
Published on July 4, 2008 by Marjorie

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars sounded better than it was
without spoiling the book for those who want to read it, i can only say that this book left a lot of things unexplained. it was a supreme let down. after i read the sample, i was hooked right in, but the ending is extremely abrupt, like the "seinfeld" finale. a lot to be desired, a lot to be explained. good effort, not so great on the follow-through.
Published 17 months ago by Amazon Customer


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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, July 4, 2008
By 
Marjorie (Westchester County, NY) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: December (Hardcover)
What happens to a family when their only child decides to stop talking? As the fifth psychiatrist to which her parents bring 11-year old Isabelle says, there is nothing clinically wrong. Yet, he explains, her silence "is not because she does not want to speak." This second, and beautifully written, novel by Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop sensitively examines how all of the family members struggle to cope with the silence that Isabelle has imposed upon herself as she, and they, struggle to bring her out of it. I found myself pulled into the family, rooting for each of the imperfect people in it to find a way to work through the situation.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars And My words Like Silent Raindrops Fell and Echoed in the Sounds of Silence, July 25, 2008
By 
Carol A. Sym (Maspeth, New york United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: December (Hardcover)
This very realistic novel, December, by Winthrop is a mirror into the lives of a family facing a crisis of silence. The characters are very human and very true to life. The father tries to cope by losing himself to tasks,by keeping busy. The mother looks for ways to break through the walls of silence with psychiatrists and art. The child , so sensitive and intelligent, is coping with her stresses in a tomb of silence.
The book portrays the achingly real conflict of a child, who appears to be spoiled and willful, but who is actually a gentle soul caught up in a nature so fragile and sensitive that it requires the isolation of silence to cope. Any family going through parenting problems of any kind will relate to the love, sadness and frustration that December so realistically portrays.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I put on the Characters Shoes!, April 21, 2009
This review is from: December (Hardcover)
I enjoyed this book for many reasons! It is well written and she takes you down many paths, that much like life, work or don't. I felt as if I were spying on these people!

However I was impressed with her story of the girls silence. My daughter has Selective Mutism and is frequently placed in situations where she wants to talk but can not. I felt like this author completely understood my daughter, in ways even I do not, and captured the paraylsis of it! The story is not about why is silent - the story is about that she IS silent - brilliant! And her ability to capture the parents frustration over this condition yet immense desire to solve it - it is literally like stepping into someone's shoes and experincing their life with this problem. I am flummoxed how she could understand this condition so well. Bravo! A beautiful story that captures a perplexing tussle with life!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!, August 8, 2008
By 
brnstdy (Florida, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: December (Kindle Edition)
A new Kindle and a long, summer vacation allowed me to read quite a few books. December was one of the best! Ms. Winthrop is a masterful storyteller! With insight and expertise, she takes readers inside the heads of each of the three main characters, a mother, a father, and a young daughter, who has stopped talking. We get to know them intimately through their thoughts or words. Personally, by the end of the book the characters were like friends, and I cared deeply about how the story resolved!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars December, September 9, 2008
By 
KRG (Wash, D.C.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: December (Hardcover)
December is amusing and beautifully written. Winthrop has a great ability to describe anything and everything. KRG
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2.0 out of 5 stars Affluent Nonsense, July 27, 2013
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This review is from: December (Kindle Edition)
The prose was decent but the content left a lot to be desired. I bought the book as it received a good review in the NYT Book Review. I have found, in the past, that the NYT has a tendency to favorably review books that ascribe to the lifestyle that the NYT promotes and I feel that was the case with this book. The story centers on an affluent family dealing with their child's difficult emotional problem. It did not seem realistic to me (nor especially moving or compelling), very few people could afford to address the issue the way this family did. Therapist shopping, removing her from her private school, planning global travel, all in an effort to fix what was wrong. Who gets to do that? and even those who can afford to, would that really be the path they chose? At various times through the book I wanted to shake each member of the household, I wanted to say 'get a hold of yourself, you cannot seriously believe what your are saying/thinking'...but I guess the rich really are different.
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3.0 out of 5 stars sounded better than it was, February 1, 2013
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This review is from: December (Kindle Edition)
without spoiling the book for those who want to read it, i can only say that this book left a lot of things unexplained. it was a supreme let down. after i read the sample, i was hooked right in, but the ending is extremely abrupt, like the "seinfeld" finale. a lot to be desired, a lot to be explained. good effort, not so great on the follow-through.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Closely written depiction of a troubled family, January 31, 2013
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This review is from: December (Hardcover)
This is an intricately detailed novel covering only a few days in real time and,in a way, it's actually kind of too realistic. Promising plot points appear -- the deaf boy next door, Isabelle's latest doctor, her sketchbooks -- that lead nowhere, which happens often enough in real life but is frustrating in fiction where every word is supposed to mean something. I kept wondering what made Isabelle stop speaking, and the story was like a mystery to me in that sense...but the reader never really finds out.

It's unclear just when the story is set, which may be frustrating to some readers, but the absence of cell phones and computers and the mention of an answering machine as if it's a newfangled device makes me think early- to mid-eighties.

I was a bit troubled by what seemed to be the ultimate message of the book, that a family's love can "cure" a troubled child, because that isn't always true. Although Isabelle goes through five psychiatrists without a diagnosis, to me it looked pretty clear: selective mutism and, probably, severe depression. Neither of which tend to go away on their own, no matter how much your parents love you. I might have been persuaded it if the book had covered a longer time frame; as it was, the ending felt hurried.

On the other hand, each character was very carefully rendered, particularly Isabelle and her parents, and the painful, complicated but loving relationships within the family were very well done. And the suspense -- will Isabelle ever start talking again? -- moved the story right along. I sat down in the library and read it all right there, something I rarely do.

This book is a mixed bag. I'm in a generous mood so I gave it four stars.
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5.0 out of 5 stars summer reading, July 31, 2012
This review is from: December (Kindle Edition)
this book is on the summer reading list if you live in georgia and are entering tenth grade this year. i have not read this book
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2.0 out of 5 stars what?, October 8, 2011
By 
linda (west virginia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: December (Vintage Contemporaries) (Paperback)
What a strange book, Isabelle wouldn't talk and then, finally, she would. Or maybe couldn't then could, or didn't then did. What am I missing? did I miss the reason? She had loving parents, no apparent trauma. I can only think that I missed something somehow...
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December (Vintage Contemporaries)
December (Vintage Contemporaries) by Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop (Paperback - July 14, 2009)
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