The Silent Unseen
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Published April 5, 2022
About The Silent Unseen
A mesmerizing historical novel of suspense and intrigue about a teenage girl who risks everything to save her missing brother.
Poland, July 1944. Sixteen-year-old Maria is making her way home after years of forced labor in Nazi Germany, only to find her village destroyed and her parents killed in a war between the Polish Resistance and Ukrainian nationalists. To Maria’s shock, the local Resistance unit is commanded by her older brother, Tomek―who she thought was dead. He is now a “Silent Unseen,” a special-operations agent with an audacious plan to resist a new and even more dangerous enemy sweeping in from the East. When Tomek disappears, Maria is determined to find him, but the only person who might be able to help is a young Ukrainian prisoner and the last person Maria trusts―even as she feels a growing connection to him that she can’t resist.
I found this book to be really compelling, especially the relationship between Kostya and Maria. I don’t know anything about the real history of the time period (1944) or how realistic the events in the story are, but I found THE SILENT UNSEEN to be really moving.
There were a couple of weird things about it to me, though. The title and cover copy kind of make it sound like Tomek is a major character, and he really wasn’t? It would make more sense if this is the first book in a series, and the Silent Unseen become a more major part of the story across multiple books, but I don’t see anything stating that this is anything other than a standalone novel.
The story was also a lot darker than I expected. Kostya joined the Ukrainian nationalists unwillingly, and was pretty severely tortured during his service with them. I liked his character a lot, though. His whole goal is to find his way back to his mother and sister and protect them. He seems young and somehow innocent despite everything he’s been through.
On the whole, I liked this book. I feel like it ended in kind of a weird place, like I feel like I’m still waiting for some shoes to drop? So again, it feels like this should be a series, but I don’t see anything about that being the case. If it’s a standalone, I feel weird about the way it ended because so much was still up in the air. In any case, I enjoyed reading THE SILENT UNSEEN, and it made me want to read more of the real history of what happened in Poland following the end of World War II.
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
Maria is Polish. Kostya is Ukranian. Kostya has experienced some pretty horrific torture and that effects his behavior in some PTSD-like symptoms.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used somewhat frequently.
Vague references to rape. Maria has had experiences in which favors come with a price, and she’s afraid she’ll have those experiences again. Kiss between boy and girl.
Kostya keeps a statue of St. Constantine in his room.
Maria escaped from a labor camp. References to and descriptions of torture and war crimes. Maria shoots and kills several men. Soldiers wound Kostya.
Captors used morphine as part of torturing Kostya.
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