When Words are Taken Away
The List by Patricia Forde, published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky - a fabulously imagined middle grade fantasy novel.
Set in a future where climate change and global warming have culminated in a great "Melting", leaving only the city of Ark as the last habitable place on Earth. Ruled by John Noa who fiercely guards language and considers it the root of all of mankind's problems. The List is the story of Letta, a wordsmith, whose job it is to create the lists of words that are allowed to be spoken by the people of Ark. When Marlo enters the wordsmith shop one day, he sets off a chain reaction of events that will change Letta's perception of the ideal society in which she believes she lives.
I grabbed The List on a whim, seeing it on the shelf at the library. I love fantasy novels so was pretty sure I would love this one. To be honest I almost abandoned it at the beginning. When the characters are speaking "List" I found it off putting and broken and wasn't sure I would be able to keep going with the halting words. I continued on and quickly realized the broken sentences and halting speech was a device used by the author to make the reader uncomfortable, to make us question the actions of the leaders of Ark, and to open our eyes to the power and beauty of words and language. I believe The List is a timely book, in a time when words are being used to cause hate, to confuse, and to deflect, it is worth examining what makes us rich and what separates us from the other creatures of the world. Language, art, music, creativity are some of what makes our lives colourful. Without these things, there would be nothing to force accountability from leaders, to speak opinions and truths, and to show love.
The List is a fantastic middle grade novel appropriate for ages 10 and up.