Title: All the Silent Sounds
Word Count: 70k
Genre: YA Upmarket Suspense
Deya dreams of going to college, becoming a storyteller, and filling her life with books. The problem is, Arab girls don't do that. Or at least that's what Deya's grandmother says. Knowing that an arranged marriage is her only option (and perhaps her best chance to follow her dreams), Deya is about to agree.
But before she can say yes, a mysterious woman sends her a package: the diary of an Arab girl named Layla.
Deya's dead mother.
When Deya reads her mother's story, she is shocked to find that it doesn't resemble her memories, which take place when she is six-years old, just months before her mother's death. Deya remembers a mentally unstable mother, a struggling father, and grandparents whose life seems plain and overt. But passages from Layla’s diary entries reveal a completely different story, forcing Deya to question her fate after an arranged marriage.
Can Deya trust her childhood memories? Or is everything she thought she saw, including her mother's death, a lie? The answers will change the course of Deya's life.
It started in the usual way, a dull rag looped tight around my fingers. I was wiping a speckle of dirt off our gold-leaf coffee table when I noticed my grandmother peeking from behind the living room door, quietly scanning my face for answers. I knew then what she was looking for, but I pretended not to notice, holding my breath as I soaked the rag in a bucket of Clorox. From the corner of my eyes, I watched her: shoulders erect, neck arched, large teeth lit between a curved jawbone. Her eyes caught sight of a sprinkle of dust in the air, followed each dot as it bounced across a brindled sofa, through a heavy set of scarlet curtains, and into a streak of sunlight dripping from the window. Then her eyes returned to me.
I realize, looking back, that I had put myself in that situation: I had agreed to sit with one of the suitors a second time, which my grandmother interpreted as a sign of my approval. I don't blame her. I usually said no before the suitors even left our home, ignoring her pleas to reconsider. She bit her tongue when I declined the forty-year-old divorcee, and the boy who didn’t speak English, and the chunky fellow looking for a green card. I mean, being forced into marriage is one thing, but having no freedom to choose the man, too? It made me want to scream. But the way my grandmother eyed me from across the room, her face damp with deliberation, made it clear that nothing I said was going to get me out of this one.