Voiceless is a coming-of-age novel with a twist: it features a teen runaway who has no speaking voice.
Nicknamed Ghost, runaway teen Annabel’s interaction with her world is limited to how well she can convey her wants and feelings to others, and how intuitive the other characters are in interpreting her expressions and gestures.
Danger lurks in many places and she faces harrowing situations when she leaves her foster home with a tough and messed up boy and hitchhikes to the city.
Once there, the danger intensifies as she confronts a rounder who expects sex in return for shelter.
How she survives without her voice adds significant tension to the story.
What has driven Ghost to the road is love.
She misses her mother’s love, and felt her grandmother’s love was inadequate.
In her quest, she finds Mary who rescues her and other runaways, just as she rescues abused horses.
It is Mary who gives her a chance to rediscover the peace that can be found in nature and allows Ghost to discover her love of horses – but she seeks a more intimate love and mistakenly overlooks Tully who would protect her and respect her, in favour of Graydon who would do neither.
It is Graydon, damaged by an abusive past, who seeks the respect and approval of an older abusive rounder and in the process endangers Ghost both physically and emotionally.
Further conflict arises when another runaway begins to compete for Graydon’s attention and Ghost learns that life on the road is harsh, complicated and as confusing as the love she seeks.
As realization comes, so too does the understanding of why it is Tully she should be with and why Mary offers hope.
Learning to distinguish those who want to use her from those who offer genuine protection and care about her brings back Annabel’s clear voice permanently, and offers her a chance at a future.