Finalist in Young Adult Fiction
2019 International Book Awards


“SPEAK NO EVIL, for a book centered around terrible things happening to a young girl, manages to be a remarkably tender and warmhearted story. Melody's life has indeed been far more difficult than any child should have to endure, but at key points, it is also touched with warmth and love, from her parents, from her first foster mother Quatie Raincrow, from her social worker Miss Prescott, and from Dr. Kane. Her religion is a plausible and intriguing mix of snake-handling Christianity and Cherokee beliefs, and the resilient strength it gives her is evident. There are some wrenching, heartbreaking moments in this book, both for Melody and for other characters, but the story's loving message shines through at least somewhat even in its darkest times, and its message is ultimately hopeful and uplifting. The story is simply told, in clear language which manages to be poetically descriptive without being overelaborate or excessively embroidered. Melody's story unfolds bit by bit, and it's hard not to be won over by her strong, loving spirit, or to empathize with her repeated struggles to keep her head above water emotionally given all that happens to her. Her songs illustrate and add emotional color to her story, especially the ones (like the rattlesnake song) that reverberate in more than one context. IR Verdict: 4.5 (OUT OF 5) SPEAK NO EVIL is a touching tribute to the power of loving faith and steadfast, patient kindness to heal the damage done by human cruelty and thoughtlessness.”


“I read and review lots of books but it’s not long before I forget most of them. Such will never be the case with Speak No Evil. Gardner has chosen to tell this story in a most unusual and powerful way … a very clever way to keep readers in suspense about what really happened. It’s made an indelible impression on me, as I’m sure it will on most readers. There are too many Melody Fisher’s in our homes and schools who lock themselves away in a world where they are both desperate to be heard and afraid to speak up. Though circumstances won’t be identical, Speak No Evil is their story. It’s not my job to tell them that story but to encourage them, and those who care about young people’s mental health, to read this for themselves. I have no doubt they will find this book unforgettable. A brilliant and novel approach to addressing important social issues. Bravo!”

~Viga Boland, Retired high school English teacher and Author of No Tears For My Father

“... suspense and intrigue ... Melody’s story is grim, but hope is weaved in throughout ... highly emotional.”

~School Library Journal

"Gardner tackles difficult topics, including bullying and abuse of all types, in a way that is both artistic and respectful. Given these weighty and emotional issues, the book is masterfully written in such a way that it is a pleasure to read."

~ BookTrib Review
Click for full review

“Any victim of abuse or those who blame themselves for events out of their control needs to read this novel … This book should be in every school library and youth centre. I cannot recommend it highly enough.”
~Lesley Jones, Readers’ Favorite

“…a gripping book … Melody’s silence signifies the way some women feel about sharing their stories with other people, and how difficult it is to overcome the desire to retreat. I really enjoyed this book and would urge others to read it; the story of Melody and her bravery will speak to you and stay with you for quite some time.”
~Tracy Young, Bulgarian reviewer

“… alternately beautiful and troubling—and a totally compelling read … Gardner’s characters are finely drawn and credible, and her plot is so relevant considering the thousands of children lost in the foster care system and at the mercy of those charged to care for them … It’s one of those books you want never to end.”

~Jack Magnus, Readers’ Favorite

"WOW! Just WOW! Liana Gardner is a great author telling a story of death, sorrow, and so much more. You will fall in love with Melody....You will feel her sorrow....You will feel her shame.... you will feel everything with this character. A MUST read that will make you sit and think well after you turned the last page."

~Bookworm (bookseller, Washington)
Highly Recommending;
(suggested the title as an IndieNext Submission)

Wow. Liana Gardner sure pulls at your heartstrings with Speak No Evil.

Gardner brings you on a journey of recovery through song and memory as Dr Kane, Melody's therapist, uses the one thing that holds Melody together to help her communicate again: music. She anchors each chapter in a song, using the lyrics—beautifully written by Lucas Astor—to bridge Melody's present and her traumatic past. Melody's gift may be the gift of song, but Gardner's true gift is evoking the emotions of a vulnerable young girl and giving her voice through this story.

Melody's story isn't an unfamiliar one. Right from the beginning, I knew why she stabbed Troy. Discounting insanity--and Melody is definitely not insane--there can only be one reason why a young girl would attack a bright, promising young athlete. Only one reason why courts and public opinion would want to side with a promising, white jock against the word of a troubled, mixed-race girl. We've seen it in the news all too often. She must be lying. Gardner holds no punches, describing the things that happened, not in a voyeuristic, pornographic or erotic way, but in Melody's dark memories and trauma—take this as a content/trigger warning.

Yet, in the midst of the darkness, shines a beacon of hope:
It is not your fault.
You are more than your past.
You are stronger than you think you are.
You are a survivor.
We will stand with you.

If these are the words you need to hear, let Gardner whisper it to you again and again through Dr Kane's patience, Rebecca Prescott's persistence, and Quatie Raincrow's love and wisdom.

~Anna Tan, Malaysian author and editor