Silent WordsBook - 1992
Set in northwestern Ontario in the 1960s, Silent Words tells the story of a young Native boy and his journey of self-discovery. Danny's life is a daily struggle for survival. He runs away from his violent and abusive home and, on his own, finds his way through a series of Native communities along the CN mainline. Various people take the boy in for a time, including a family with other children, an elderly couple, a boy and his father, a young bachelor, and a wise old man. Through his travels and encounters, Danny learns about himself and the world he lives in.
Silent Words offers an intimate view of Native Communities and their values: being non-judgemental, open and accepting, sharing with others, and respecting elders. Danny starts his journey without an understanding of his Native background thus allowing readers to experience and learn with him as he undertakes his quest for self-knowledge.
The language in this novel is simple and accessible, and yet richly evocative of the flavour of northern Native life. Ruby Slipperjack writes with great sensitivity about the people and places she knows, and it is her unique storytelling ability that provides the power and insight in this novel.
She says, "I have been to all the places I write about. I know the smell, feel, and texture of the earth I walk on. I belong to it."
In this book, she shows a remarkable ability to convey with English words the subtle forms of non-verbal communication, the implied meanings, the silent words, that are an integral part of Native expression.