Beyond the Book: Background information when reading December

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

December by Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2008, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2009, 256 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Sacha Dollacker

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book

Print Review

Isabelle is not diagnosed in the book, but were she to be, she would probably be diagnosed with Selective Mutism, a childhood anxiety disorder. Some therapists might even diagnose her with Traumatic Mutism because of the immediate onset and her total silence. Most children with SM are not completely silent all the time. They are silent as a result of deep anxiety, but will talk normally when they are in 'safe' environments. Isabelle would be a rare case because she is completely silent for nine months.

Children with SM often have "severely inhibited temperaments" and are more prone to anxiety. When we become stressed, the amygdala (the brain's "emergency manager") responds to the potential crisis by overriding thought and instigating a reaction intended to protect the body. In children with SM, that reaction is silence. Fearful situations can be birthday parties, school, family gatherings, or routine errands. Many children with SM also have Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID), which means they have trouble processing sensory information. A child with SID may have trouble comprehending social cues, which can lead to anxiety and fear and, in some cases, silence.

Selective Mutism is treated using a variety of tactics: Behavioral therapy, play therapy, medication, self-esteem boosters (parents should emphasize their child's positive attributes), frequent socialization, school involvement, and family involvement. The ultimate goals being to decrease anxiety, and increase social confidence and self-esteem. As the child feels more comfortable and self-esteem builds, he/she should progress from nonverbal to verbal communications.

More information at the Selective Mutism Foundation.

This article was originally published in June 2008, and has been updated for the July 2009 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access become a member today.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Rules of Magic
    The Rules of Magic
    by Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman's Rules of Magic is the long-awaited prequel to one of her most cherished novels,...
  • Book Jacket: Good Me Bad Me
    Good Me Bad Me
    by Ali Land
    Is a psychopath born or made? This is the terrifying question that author Ali Land explores in her ...
  • Book Jacket: Five-Carat Soul
    Five-Carat Soul
    by James McBride
    In the short story "Sonny's Blues," from the 1965 collection Going to Meet the Man, African-...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

"A powerful, provocative debut ... Intelligent, honest, and unsentimental." - Kirkus, starred review

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Never Coming Back
    by Alison McGhee

    A moving exploration of growing up and growing old, and the ties that bind parents and children.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Wisdom of Sundays

The Wisdom of Sundays
by Oprah Winfrey

Life-changing insights from super soul conversations.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A Good M I H T F

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.