Review: Breaking the Silence by Diane Chamberlain


Laura Brandon’s promise to her dying father was simple: to visit an elderly woman she’d never heard of before. A woman who remembers nothing—except the distant past. Visiting Sarah Tolley seemed a small enough sacrifice to make.

But Laura’s promise results in another death. Her husband’s. And after their five-year-old daughter, Emma, witnesses her father’s suicide, Emma refuses to talk about it…to talk at all.

Frantic and guilt ridden, Laura contacts the only person who may be able to help. A man she’s met only once—six years before.

Guided only by a child’s silence and an old woman’s fading memories, the two unravel a tale of love and despair, of bravery and unspeakable evil. A tale that’s shrouded in silence…and that unbelievably links them all.


Author: Diane Chamberlain

Title: Breaking the Silence

Published: 11/24/2009 by Mira

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Laura Brandon, renowned astronomer, promised her dying father she would look after Sarah Tolley, a woman with no family who lived in a retirement home. Despite the fact that she’d never heard of her and had no idea who she was or how her father knew her, Laura felt obligated to fulfill his dying request. However, when she told her husband, Ray, about it, he tried to dissuade her from doing it, shocking her with his uncharacteristic display of anger when she refused to reconsider. Ray accused Laura of giving too little of herself to him and her daughter, Emma, saying she was always rushing off to further her career, or taking on pet projects, and never spending enough time with her family. Laura is stunned and hurt by this, but thinks his upset most likely stems from his inability to publish a book he’d poured his heart into writing. Ray apologizes, but is still upset that she still plans to see Sarah Tolley.

Two weeks later, Ray asked her again to forget about seeing Sarah, but Laura goes anyway. She’s hoping Sarah can tell her how her father came to know her, but that hope is dashed when Laura learns that Sarah is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. She’s further puzzled to learn that no one, not even her father, had ever visited Sarah. Left with more questions than answers, Laura leaves and returns home, where she is greeted by the sound of her daughter screaming. Emma is clearly traumatized, and Ray is nowhere to be found. Moments later, she discovers his body in the bedroom—Ray committed suicide while Laura was away.

Now, a grieving Laura must find the strength to help her little girl recover from the trauma that left her unwilling to speak, struggling with her own guilt about Ray’s death and Emma’s condition while at the same time trying to solve the mystery of Sarah Tolley. When six months have passed and Emma still isn’t talking, Laura is persuaded to contact Emma’s birth father, Dylan Geer, and see if he was willing to be part of Emma’s life, in the hope that it would help her recovery.

In the meantime, Laura continues to visit Sarah, going on walks and listening to stories of Sarah’s youth. Over time, the stories reveal a terrible tragedy Sarah endured… leading her to a sacrifice she never wanted to make. Laura wanted to help Sarah, but more than that, she wanted to know why someone was leaving anonymous letters in her mail, warning her to stay away from Sarah. In the end, Laura finds the answers she’s been searching for, and Sarah ends up impacting her life, as well as Emma’s, in ways Laura could never have imagined.

Breaking the Silence is a tale of love and loss surrounded by mysteries from the past, as well as the present. Each answered question raises others, and it is so skillfully written that it keeps you guessing all the way through. If you haven’t read it, I urge you to give it a try… you won’t be disappointed!