Ellie Irving's The Mute Button is a great insight into the chaos of family life [Review]

Ellie Irving's The Mute Button is a great insight into the chaos of family life [Review]

The Mute Button
By Ellie Irving
Published by Corgi / Random House
ISBN 978 0552568357

Anthony Button is struggling to deal with his family, and no one seems to be noticing. His mum and dad are great, but currently they don't seem to have much time for him.

Mum is stressed all the time, trying to balance her studies with the demands of her children. Dad never seems to know what is going on, and lives in a happily dazed state most of the time.

Elder brother Robbie is working on becoming a rock star and spends all his time in the garage strumming his guitar and singing the same song over and over again. Sister Susie wants to be an actress when she grows up. She's a star in the making, and lets everyone know it.

Younger brother Jacob is seven and brilliant at maths. Anthony has to share a bedroom with Jacob, which doesn't give Anthony much space to himself. In fact, finding any sort of space in the Button house is difficult.

Finally, there is two-year-old baby Lucy, who takes up most of their mum's extremely rare spare time.

How does Anthony make himself heard in the midst of all the noise and chaos in the Button household? He loves his big family, but at the moment they are driving him mad.

And just when Anthony thinks his family can't get any bigger, along comes a new big brother out of the blue: Dad discovers a long lost son he didn't know he had and Anthony gets pushed even further into the background. It's time for Anthony to take drastic action, in the form of a silent protest. But will he be able to find his voice again?

Ellie Irving's moving and laugh-out-loud new novel is a little gem, shining out among all the vampire/alien/end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it stories out there. The Mute Button focuses on something that it seems a lot of writers have forgotten about; the humour and drama of family life. Anthony tells his own story with insight and humour, and he is a very engaging narrator.

Both funny and deep at the same time, and featuring a delightful cast of quirky characters, Anthony's account of what ensues after he presses the mute button is a real charmer that readers will devour. There are a few emotional issues in there that some readers may recognise from their own experiences.

The Mute Button is thoroughly recommended for anyone who wants a good laugh with just a little bit of serious thrown in to make it all very recognisable and real.

John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Staying quiet can be useful for finding your voice


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