Review of ‘The Silence that Binds Us’

The Silence that Binds Us is a thoughtful and powerful novel dealing with racism and mental health.

An emotionally charged novel, The Silence that Binds Us captures the reader’s attention with social commentary following the suicide of May’s brother.


The Silence that Binds Us is an emotional novel.

The story begins almost like a flashback. May remembers the last day she spent with her brother. We, the reader, already know he commits suicide, May even mentions it early on. But what I love about Ho’s writing is the way the emotion bleeds off the pages.

We see the love May and Danny have for one another. So when that earth-shattering moment occurs, we feel the depth of Danny’s death and the emotional toll it takes on her and her family.

Ho’s style of writing is impactful and powerful. And throughout the story, we’re reminded that depression does not look like someone just sitting in a dark room. Anyone with depression will tell you, sure, there are days like that, but it is not about feeling sad about something. It is about more than that, so much more that I can’t even put it into words. And yet Ho was able to show the reader the many small ways depression rears its ugly head.

Social Commentary

And through all this, while navigating through her grief, May’s family faces racist accusations. People claim her brother killed himself because of the “pressure” his parents put on him, building up the Asian stereotype.

May’s family tells her to keep her head down, but why should she? People who know nothing about her or her family are twisting her trauma to fit into their narratives.

Ho addresses racism in a thoughtful way that makes the reader think. Ho also gives readers a history lesson to show how minorities are marginalized and pitted against one another. Ho’s writing is captivating, and the history lessons fit into the plot effortlessly. It is a discourse between the reader and the book that allows, again, makes the reader to think and feel at the same time.

Final Thoughts

May goes on an incredible journey throughout The Silence that Binds Us. Becoming aware of her light-skinned privilege, May sees racism more acutely. And with emotional poetry capturing the light of her feelings and situation, the reader connects to May. And alongside May, the reader grows and learns, becoming more thoughtful and aware.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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