Living a Lie Comes With a Price.
This thriller is book with a moral, but it didn’t feel preachy to me, just real. Three teens–Cooper, Hiro, and Gordy—witness a robbery and attempted murder. Because Cooper and his family are threatened by the robbers and because they have reason to believe that at least one of the robbers might be a bad cop, the three decide on a”code of silence.” They won’t tell anyone about what they saw: not their parents, not their teachers, not their other friends, and not the police.
The rest of the story show the outworking and results of this decision. Although the moral of the story is “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”, it’s never presented as an easy option. The truth is that it’s not always easy to tell the truth. And our motives for many of our decisions are often mixed at best. If I lie to protect myself and others, is it mostly for myself or the others? If I tell one lie, will it become easier and easier to tell more lies? Why do people lie, and how hard is it to disentangle oneself from a web of lies? What do lies told to others do to the trust between the friends who share in the deception?
Hiro is a little too hard on Cooper sometimes throughout the book. She rails at him over and over to end the code of silence before it destroys their friendship and puts them in the very danger they’re trying to avoid. But she agreed to the code in the first place, and she can end it anytime. Instead, she blames Cooper and tries to make him feel totally responsible for the trio’s joint decision. That aspect of the relationships in the novel felt wrong to me, somehow.
But overall, Code of Silence was an exciting middle grade novel that asked all the right questions—and gave some solid answers.