Seventeen-year-old Hope Long's life revolves around her brother Jeremy. So when Jeremy is accused of killing the town's beloved baseball coach, Hope's world begins to unravel. Everyone is convinced Jeremy did it, and since he hasn't spoken a word in 9 years, he's unable to defend himself. Their lawyer instructs Hope to convince the jury that Jeremy is insane, but all her life Hope has known that Jeremy's just different than other people--better, even. As she works to prove his innocence--joined by her best friend T.J. and the sheriff's son, Chase--Hope uncovers secrets about the murder, the townspeople, her family, and herself. She knows her brother isn't the murderer. But as she comes closer to the truth, she's terrified to find out who is.
- Edgar Awards (Edgar Allan Poe Awards)
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Knopf Books for Young Readers
October 11, 2011
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Excerpt from The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall
The first time Jeremy heard God sing, we were in the old Ford, rocking back and forth with the wind. Snow pounded at the window to get inside, where it wasn't much better than out there. I guess he was nine. I was seven, but I've always felt like the older sister, even though Jeremy was bigger.
I snuggled closer under his arm while we waited for Rita. She made us call her 'Rita' and not 'Mom' or 'Mommy' or 'Mother,' and that was fine with Jeremy and me. Pretty much anything that was fine with Jeremy was fine with me.
We'd been in the backseat long enough for frost to make a curtain on the car windshield and for Rita's half-drunk paper cup of coffee to ice some in its holder up front.
Jeremy had grown so still that I thought he might be asleep, or half frozen, either one being better than the teeth-chattering bone-chilling I had going on.
Then came the sound.
It filled the car. A single note that made it feel like all of the notes put together in just the right way. I don't remember wondering where that note came from because my whole head was full of it and the hope that it wouldn't stop, not ever. And it went on so long I thought maybe I was getting my wish and that this was what people heard when they died, right before seeing that white tunnel light.
The note didn't so much end as it went into another note and then more of them. And there were words in the notes, but they were swallowed up in the meaning of that music-song so that I couldn't tell and didn't care which was which.
Then I saw this song was coming from my brother, and I started bawling like a baby. And bawling wasn't something you did in our house because Rita couldn't abide crying and believed whacking you was the way to make it stop.
Jeremy sang what must have been a whole entire song, because when he closed his mouth, it seemed right that the song was over.
When I could get words out, I turned so I could see my brother. "Jeremy," I whispered, "I never heard you sing before."
He smiled like someone had warmed him toasty all the way through and given him hot chocolate with marshmallows to top it off. "I never sang before."
"But that song? Where did you get it?"
"God," he answered, as simply as if he'd said, "Walmart."
I'd just heard that song, and even though it seemed to me that God made more sense than Walmart for an answer, I felt like I had to say otherwise. I was the "normal" sister, the one whose needs weren't officially special.
"Jeremy, God can't give you a song," I told him.
Jeremy raised his eyebrows a little and swayed the way he does. "Hope," he said, like he was older than Rita and I was just a little kid, "God didn't give it to me. He sang it. I just copied."
The door to the trailer flew open, and a man named Billy stepped out. Rita was breaking up with Billy, but I don't think he knew that. We'd stopped by his trailer on our way out of town so Rita could pick up her stuff, and maybe get some money off her ex-boyfriend, who didn't realize he was an ex. Billy stood there in plaid boxers, his belly hanging over the elastic like a rotten potato somebody'd tried to put a rubber band around. If I hadn't been so cold, I might have tried to get Jeremy to laugh.
Rita squeezed up beside the potato man. She tried to slip past him and out the door. But he took hold of her bag and grabbed one more kiss. She laughed, like this was a big game. Then she stepped down out of the trailer, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.