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Submitted Literature


By Winthrop Elizabeth H.


'December' is a novel examining the immense strain on the parents of 11-year-old Isabelle, who has been electively mute for months. The novel provides some insight into Isabelle's psychological state and the issues that mean she cannot verbalise her thoughts, emotions or questions. This leads to enormous pressure on both her parents and their marriage, which in turn places more pressure on Isabelle leading to a vicious circle. A beautifully written and honest novel, which candidly explores both parent’s frustrations and anger with Isabelle as well as their powerlessness and determination to have their daughter back.

Key Themes:

  • Childhood / Adolescence
  • Isolation
  • Mutism

Significant Quotes / Pages

153 – “Her mother’s voice seems distant now, belonging to a world different from the one Isabelle has entered into. She can feel the tiles sliding beneath her and her mother’s hands firm beneath her arms, and then she feels the tiles give way to carpet and then wood, and it splinters her bottom, but she does not yield. She does not uncurl herself, and she does not open her eyes to see the world seeing her reduced to this, this cruel, silent rock of  child dragged across the floor.” 


165 – “Isabelle grits her teeth so tight that her jaw begins to hurt, but there is something pleasing about the pain [...]

She hears the tapping of the blind man’s pole against the floor, and she badly wants to turn and watch him as he makes his way to the door, but she will not give herself that pleasure. She does not deserve it.”

239 – “Ruth is right; it’s silly to make such an issue about where to have lunch, but really he knows the where of it is only part of the issue. The where of it has nothing to do with the kind of food he’s rather eat; the where of it only matters insofar as where silence would be easiest, where there would be enough around them for Wilson to comment on in order to break the silence now and then – but he cannot tell this to Ruth. He doesn’t even like to admit it to himself. What kind of father is he, he thinks, to dread lunch with his daughter? To think of this dread fills him with shame, but he cannot help it.”

Reference: Winthrop, Elizabeth H.. 2008. December. Sceptre, 2009


- Charley Baker
Date Review Submitted: Monday 5th October 2009