The Quiet and the Loud

Helena Fox

The Quiet and the Loud
Pan Macmillan Australia
28 March 2023

The Quiet and the Loud

Helena Fox

A novel about the contours of friendship, family, forgiveness, trauma and love that explores the stories we suppress and the stories we speak - and the healing that comes when we voice the things we've kept quiet for so long.

George's life is loud. On the water, though, with everything hushed above and below, she is steady, silent. Then her estranged dad says he needs to talk, and George's past begins to wake up, looping around her ankles, trying to drag her under. Everything is a blaring, blazing mess. Could Calliope, the girl who has just cartwheeled into George's world and shot it through with brilliant, dazzling colour, be her calm among the chaos?


The Quiet and the Loud is the latest novel by Helena Fox, the award-winning author of How It Feels to Float. It is set in Sydney, just before and during the 2019 bushfires – some of the worst fires Australia has ever seen. The initial scene is peace, stillness, and quiet, as early in the morning we meet George, who glides along the waters of Sydney Harbour in her kayak. This hushed world is rudely interrupted by a loud beep from her phone.

Her estranged dad is texting: he wants to talk; George doesn’t. She ignores him, well, tries to, but he persists. Text after text. George continues to paddle, attempting to find her calm, and then sees a welcome distraction – a girl cartwheeling on the bank, all joy and light. George can’t look away.

This ‘vision’, we later discover, is Calliope. She may be just what George needs.

As we discover more about George’s world, we are introduced into the chaos of her family; her demanding, loud family. There’s her heavily pregnant best friend Tess, environmentally stressed friend Laz, artist mum Mel and her closeup genitalia paintings, Gramps and his constant carousel of dates, and Sara, George’s biological mum, who is still hiding past trauma. We watch George struggle to keep everyone happy, only to end up pleasing no one, especially not herself.

This book touches on some very difficult topics, including domestic violence, addiction, anxiety, depression, PTSD and Complex PTSD. These are all handled in a sympathetic and honest manner, making this an accessible and thought-provoking read for ages 14+.

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