The Raging Quiet

Jordan, Sherryl

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel for Young Adults

Annotated by:
McEntyre, Marilyn
  • Date of entry: Jul-09-1999
  • Last revised: Dec-14-2006


Set in an indefinite time and place that suggest pre-industrial Ireland, this story follows the fortunes of Marnie, eldest sister of a large family of tenant farmers. When the landowner's son takes an interest in her, though she is not drawn to him, she accepts his offer of marriage to help her family and travels with him to his dead grandmother's run-down cottage by the sea, which he claims is worth the whole of the rest of his family's estate.

Only a few days into their marriage, the bridegroom dies from a fall while thatching the roof. Marnie is left to fend for herself in a village of suspicious and superstitious locals where only the priest befriends her. The one other person with whom she has contact is a young boy called "The Raver" by the villagers who believe he is mad.

Gradually she comes to believe he is not mad, but deaf. She devises hand signs and wins first his trust, then his devotion as she opens a world of communication to one who has been isolated and ostracized his whole life, though the priest has taken care of him. However, upon seeing her effect on the mad boy (whose name Marnie has changed to "Raven") the locals decide that Marnie must be a witch.

They put her to a test for witchcraft, which the priest helps her endure and pass. After that they leave her alone. Eventually the priest, now like a father to both Marnie and Raven, marries them, and they leave with an heirloom ring found in the cottage to begin life again among people who might be able to receive the young couple with their strange hand-speech more open-mindedly.


The writer, an experienced teacher of deaf children, handles elegantly this story of prejudice, pain, suspicion, ignorance overcome by intelligence and a will to understand. Though classified as a young adult novel, the quality of writing, surprising turns of plot, and deft characterization give it appeal for readers of any age. It has a timeless quality like the best fairy- and folktales, but a sophistication in its representation of the social obstacles and psychological complexities that accompany disability that places it among the best contemporary treatments of such issues in fiction. A fine book for older young adults and for anyone in relationship with the deaf.


Simon & Schuster

Place Published

New York



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