The Loudness of Unsaid Things

Hilde Hinton

The Loudness of Unsaid Things
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The Loudness of Unsaid Things

Hilde Hinton

An unforgettable story of loneliness, isolation and finding your way. Heart-wrenching, wise and wryly funny, this novel will make you kinder to those who are lost.

Miss Kaye works at The Institute. A place for the damaged, the outliers, the not-quite rights. Everyone has different strategies to deal with the residents. Some bark orders. Some negotiate tirelessly. Miss Kaye found that simply being herself was mostly the right thing to do.

Susie was seven when she realised she’d had her fill of character building. She’d lie between her Holly Hobbie sheets thinking how slowly birthdays come around, but how quickly change happened. One minute her Dad was saying that the family needed to move back to the city and then, SHAZAM, they were there. Her mum didn’t move to the new house with them. And Susie hated going to see her mum at the mind hospital. She never knew who her mum would be. Or who would be there. As the years passed, there were so many things Susie wanted to say but never could.

Miss Kaye will teach Susie that the loudness of unsaid things can be music - and together they will learn that living can be more than surviving.


Reading The Loudness of Unsaid Things, I was reminded of two other debut novels that I have also reviewed: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart. With both those books, I knew I had read something special and I feel the same with Hilde Hinton’s debut. While all three novels emotionally connected with me, The Loudness of Unsaid Things has a uniqueness, especially in relation to style and characterisation, that makes it all its own.

There are two timeframes in the novel: one set in the early/mid-1980s, and one somewhere fairly close to the present. Growing up in the ‘80s is Susie, who lives with her father in Melbourne and has scheduled visits with her mother, either at her flat or at the ‘mind hospital’ when her mother is feeling unwell. Closer to the present we are introduced to Miss Kaye who works at ‘The Institute’, a mental health clinic for women where we observe her daily interactions with the inpatients.

Engaging right from the start, I could not have possibly guessed where this novel would take me. It is so cleverly structured and full of little golden nuggets of text that just take your breath away. It manages to cover so many themes, including trauma, mental health, family relationships and grief, yet still give depth to each one. The novel is full of encounters and events that many will relate to (first job, first time tasting alcohol, and first friendship falling apart) along with the joy and/or sadness that come with each. Those (like me) who grew up in the ’80s will also have great fun picking up all the cultural references from that time.

Now more than ever, it’s so important to support debut Australian authors and Hilde Hinton has produced an accomplished first novel that I’m sure many will find rewarding to read. I have a feeling that The Loudness of Unsaid Things will be one of my most recommended books of this year.

Amanda Rayner is the returns officer at Readings Carlton.

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