Although the relationship between Mallory and Rider is the main focus of this story, for me the selective mutism is the more pivotal message and storyline.
Watching her find the voice she knows is deep inside of her, and her battle to externalize what she has kept hidden inside for so long.
Rider and Mallory have a bond no one can really understand. They have lived through horrific child abuse and comforted each other throughout the fear and pain.
Relationships built in an atmosphere of terror and oppression can either create a huge chasm or a bond as tight as super glue. The problem with that is feelings of guilt, because someone ( a child) in that situation feels guilty for not being able to save the other person (child), subsequently they will see it as their life-long goal to do so. Saving someone can become equal to loving that person.
This is the misconception Mallory and Rider have to work through. Mallory needs to learn how to save herself instead of relying on others to do it for her. She needs to recognise that she is no longer the frightened child hiding in the closet. She is out of the closet, she is brave and she finally learns how to roar.
As I mentioned before the selective mutism element of this story was pivotal and well-written. We see her taking one step or speaking one word after the other, slowly evolving from the non-speaking mouse to the Mallory capable of telling everyone how she feels.
Armentrout uses the topic of child abuse without feeling the need to embellish with overly graphic details. She makes her point without gratuitous scenes. Not that horrible and unbelievable abuse doesn’t happen. It does, and far more often than any of us would care to believe. Armentrout creates powerful imagery with minimal detail, which in turn places more emphasis on the emotional aftermath.
I enjoyed the read. It gives an interesting insight into how children have to deal with life after abuse.