The Silence That Binds Us

The Silence That Binds Us Cover
The Silence That Binds Us by Joanna Ho

By Joanna Ho
HarperTeen, 2022
448 pages

Age 14 and older

The seemingly out-of-the-blue suicide of May’s older brother, basketball star and Princeton-bound Danny, just before graduation sends her Chinese American family into an downward emotional spiral. May’s return to attend junior year the following fall is eased by her best friend, Haitian American Tiya Marie, and Tiya Marie’s older brother, Marc. After a white parent’s diatribe blaming the increase in teen suicides on the ripple effect of Asian parents who put too much pressure on their children —referencing Danny without knowing anything about him or their family—May channels her rage into a poem that sparks a “#TakeBacktheNarrative” movement among BIPOC students at her school. There are also plans to protest the school’s new internship program, sponsored by the parent who made the racist remarks. May seeks support from several white students who claim to be allies but won’t commit to hard choices, and is challenged to consider her own actions—or lack of action—on issues that extend beyond her own family and community; she already knows she let Tiya Marie and Marc down when she didn’t understand the reasons behind a protest over the recent police killing of a Black boy. This insightful exploration of social justice activism and ally-ship, community and commitment, reveals it’s often messy, and complicated, and that everyone is learning. Running through it all are so many honest feelings about family and friendship, some of them a revelation, as well as May’s grief, and her longing to understand why Danny took his own life. ©2022 Cooperative Children’s Book Center