It’s your fault!
Who hasn’t heard voices like these telling her how worthless she is? I know I have.
Or maybe the voices say:
Who’s going to know?
You deserve it.
The characters in Elizabeth Musser's novel Words Unspoken hear voices. They struggle with depression, loss, greed, bitterness and figuring out which voices to listen to.
Okay. The book is agenda driven and packed with homespun psychology, but hey! I like the agenda, and who says homespun psychology doesn’t help? Musser does a good job of communicating both through characters that we come to care about.
If I had one criticism of this book, it would be too many characters. (I would have liked Janelle and her sister to have their own book, but it probably wouldn’t sell in the US market.) The shifting points-of-view were pretty confusing until I sorted them all out. There are an aging driving instructor and a hurting young woman afraid to drive since the accident that killed her mother; a socialite with a cheating husband and a missionary grieving the loss of a child; a driven broker and an ambitious editor’s assistant. Each has her own story. Each is haunted by his own voices. But hang in there. It all comes together. By the end we are pulling for each of them to listen to the right voices, make the right choices—even the “bad guys”.
This is contemporary historical fiction, set during the financial crisis of late 1987. “I thought that most people could relate to the idea of hearing voices,” says Musser, “but what I didn’t expect was that the time period I chose, October 1987, would be so similar to what the U.S. is experiencing now in the financial market and banking system.”
This is also Southern fiction. Most of the action takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, where Musser grew up, or around Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. The details of place will make it a fun read for anyone familiar with those locations.
Some scenes take place in the south of France where Musser and her husband are missionaries. As a missionary myself, it was the feelings I identified with more than the setting per se. Although I haven’t lost a child, I have struggled with depression and guilt because missionaries are supposed to be spiritually stronger than that. I had to laugh at the perceptions of Janelle’s sister when she visited—tiny car, tiny house, tiny bathroom, don’t they ever spend money?
Musser writes: A major breakthrough in my life as a Christian and as a young woman came when I understood which ‘voice’ to listen to and which ‘voices’ to tune out. Through studying Scripture, I learned how to make a battle plan when I was tempted to listen to the wrong voices.” If that is your struggle right now, this may be just the book for you.