Melody Fisher is just sixteen years old, but she’s already experienced enough heartbreak to last a lifetime. From the time of her mother’s death and her father’s disappearance when she was only nine years old, Melody has bounced between various foster placements and new schools, often finding each one worse than the last.

As a result of the trauma she has faced, she shuts down all spoken communication. She wants to protect herself and those around her, but when she has to testify on her own behalf, staying silent might not be an option.

Liana Gardner’s Speak No Evil (Vesuvian Books) dives headfirst into the life of a young girl who must explore her troubled past in order to find healing in the future. Gardner tackles difficult topics, including bullying and abuse of all types, in a way that is both artistic and respectful. The book utilizes dates at the beginning of each section to help orient the reader as Melody’s full history is revealed in pieces. Readers get to hear from a younger Melody in the first person as she loses the joy of childhood and becomes progressively more jaded with each loss she suffers.

At the same time, readers see sixteen-year-old Melody struggle to find her voice again as she works with her psychologist and caseworker to prepare for court. Gardner uses these shifts in time to expose her audience to exactly what they need to know at each moment without sacrificing the flow of the overall story. Though the book deals with weighty and emotional issues, it is masterfully written in such a way that it is still a pleasure to read.

Melody is forced into foster care when her uncle is deemed unfit to care for her in the wake of her parent’s death. Escaping the man who tortured her with the same beast that causes her mother’s death, a rattlesnake, may have seemed like a blessing at first, but Melody soon learns otherwise. With the exception of one truly loving foster mom who was just too good to last, Melody finds hateful siblings and even worse adult caretakers in every placement she moves to. She bears it all with as much grace as possible, but she can only take so much.

At the beginning of the book, readers learn that Melody has stabbed one of her classmates. Now she’ll have to stand trial for her crime, but she hasn’t spoken to anyone for any reason in months. The horrible mistreatment she’s faced since she left her childhood home has sent her into silence, and to make matters worse, she believes that things get worse every time she talks about what she’s been through. If she can’t come to her own defense, she’ll face juvenile detention or even possible jail time. She starts attending daily sessions with her court-ordered psychologist, but she still can’t seem to find the words she needs. She’ll need to find a new way to communicate if she wants the truth to come out.

Speak No Evil is available for purchase.

Learn more about Liana on her Author Profile page.

About Liana Gardner

Liana Gardner is the multi-award-winning author of 7th Grade Revolution, The Journal of Angela Ashby, and Speak No Evil. The daughter of a rocket scientist and an artist, Liana combines the traits of both into a quirky yet pragmatic writer and in everything sees the story lurking beneath the surface.

Liana volunteers with high school students through EXP (expfuture.org). EXP unites business people and educators to prepare students for a meaningful place in the world of tomorrow. Working in partnership with industry and educators, EXP helps young people EXPerience, EXPand, and EXPlore.

Engaged in a battle against leukemia and lymphoma, Liana spends much of her time at home, but her imagination takes her wherever she wants to go.

Liana is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.