Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 497
Devastating, but Beautiful
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
As MOTHER TONGUE by Julie Mayhew begins, eighteen-year-old Darya envisions the bits of freedom she'll enjoy once her little sister, Nika, finally starts school. Darya has been Nika's primary caregiver since she was brought home from the hospital--their mother stayed in the hospital longer, and when their mom returned to the family, she confined herself to her bed and couldn't manage her parenting duties. Darya stepped up to fill the void for the new baby, and she loved her little sister like a mother--while resenting the parts of her own childhood that she forfeited.

On Nika's first day of school, a terrorist attack alters the lives of everyone in their town as they all deal with the aftermath of the death of so many loved ones. Nika is one of those who is taken hostage, then among the missing when the hostage situation is resolved, and then lost forever as the family identifies and claims her remains. MOTHER TONGUE chronicles Darya's attempts to deal with her loss, understand the way others manage theirs, and find a new life for herself absent her little sister.

MOTHER TONGUE is devastating to read, and Julie Mayhew's relates the stories of people who are broken in so many different ways. Her writing is beautiful, but spare, and much of the beauty is in her economy of words. I loved Darya's character, and I marveled at how well Mayhew brought her to life despite the book's brevity. MOTHER TONGUE is a coming-of-age book, but it's also one that covers grief, family relationships, dating relationships, and so much more.

I had to take frequent small breaks while I was reading MOTHER TONGUE. There's so much pain in the book that it was hard for me to absorb it all at once. That said, I was always anxious to get started on it again because I was so invested in the characters and their stories.

MOTHER TONGUE is a fantastic book, and I highly recommend it. My thanks to LibraryThing and the publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for my unbiased review.
Good Points
Beautiful writing
Terrific main character
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