The Loudness of Unsaid Things by Hilde Hinton
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.