The Silence Between Breaths
Cath Staincliffe
Constable 2016
264 pages

It is an ordinary day.  People with ordinary lives are riding a train from Manchester to London. In closer quarters are a brash and exciting woman looking forward to a life of wonderful possibilities, a nervous young man going to a job interview, an exuberant family off to a wedding, an older couple on holidays, and an exasperated mother coping with a relative with dementia, a train worker collecting trash and going about his day, and a dog; all ordinary, except for one young man.  He is the only one who knows that in a short while, none of their lives will ever be the same.  That is The Silence Between Breaths by Cath Staincliffe.

“Ordinary”is what comprises approximately the first third of the book, however, it is the tool that sets the stage for what is to come.  Although the incident itself is predictable, the aftermath is not.  There the extraordinary happens.  People connect.  Ordinary people are transformed.

In light of world events, it is easy for the reader to place herself in the position of any one of the passengers, and realize the terrifying and far-reaching impact of a single event.  In that sense, The Silence Between Breaths becomes chilling.  Not for the faint of heart, once reality is torn apart, The Silence Between Breaths is sometimes brutal, sometimes gruesome, sometimes touching and inspirational, and sometimes sad.

I cannot say that The Silence Between Breaths by Cath Staincliffe  is enjoyable, in an uplifting, entertaining kind of way, but it definitely makes you think.  It is written in a straightforward, uncomplicated and intentional manner, but the resulting emotional undertow can be intense.