The Execution of Noa P. Singleton

  • by Elizabeth L. Silver
  • Narrated by Rebecca Lowman, Amanda Carlin
  • 10 hrs and 0 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A beguiling debut novel about the stories we tell ourselves to survive, the scars that never fade, and the things we choose to call the truth.
Noa P. Singleton speaks not a word in her own defense throughout a brief trial that ends with a jury finding her guilty of first-degree murder. Ten years later, a woman who will never know middle age, she sits on death row in a maximum security penitentiary, just six months away from her execution date.
Seemingly out of the blue, she is visited by Marlene Dixon, a high-powered Philadelphia attorney who is also the heartbroken mother of the woman Noa was imprisoned for killing. She tells Noa that she has changed her mind about the death penalty and Noa’s sentence, and will do everything in her considerable power to convince the governor to commute the sentence to life in prison - if Noa will finally reveal what led her to commit her crime.
Noa and Marlene become inextricably linked through the law, shared sentiments of guilt, and irreversible mistakes in an unapologetic tale of love, anguish, and deception that is as unpredictable as it is magnificently original.


What the Critics Say

"In this grippingly off-kilter thriller, a young woman sits on death row after being convicted of murder until a high-powered attorney – the victim’s mother – intervenes, leaving everyone to wonder why." (O, The Oprah Magazine)
"Silver has written a darkly witty, acerbic jigsaw puzzle of a first novel about legal versus moral culpability…[and] explores convolutions of guilt and innocence beyond the law’s narrow scope with a sharpness and attention to detail that can be unnerving but demands attention." (Kirkus)
"Vividly written debut novel...Silver definitely delivers a thought-provoking examination of the criminal-justice system, providing a clear-eyed view of the artificial theatrics that dominate criminal trials and a heartfelt look at both grief and remorse. An intriguing debut from a writer to watch." (Booklist)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Are We Speaking the Same Language?

If books were free and there was no budget juggling necessary to pay for my addiction, I wouldn't care that a book was arbitrarily heralded and rolled out on a red carpet; I'd chalk a stinker up to an unlucky gamble--pick another from the book tree, and read on. Or, if *professional* critics reviewed books with no thought to marketing, I'd gladly accept my bad taste in literature and go on confidently to the beat of my own drum. Ah, if dishes were wishes... I wouldn't feel so hoodwinked (and light in the pockets); I wouldn't aim my discontent at those well-marketed wastes of trees. But gosh darn it I have spent a lot of $$ lately on books that are more wiener than winner. Therefore, I saw this author's own words, in the first chapter of this book, as encouragement: *once something has been said, it's impossible to ignore or forget what you heard* -- and I heard this book was supposed to be *genius*.

The Execution of blahblahblahblahton would be an outstanding paper for a literature class, or a passable rough framework for a novel, but served up as an amazing debut novel from a promising new author, one of June's top's a few trumpets short of a fanfare. I don't want to detract from the author's talent, or suggest its arrival should have been heralded by kazoos; she writes with intelligence, uses a considerable vocabulary well, and the book has a forceful pace that never drags. Some of the dialogue is very clever and provocative; she definitely has style, and deserves to be tagged as promising. I believe Elizabeth Silver will be an author to watch for, once she develops a little patina. The story itself is a flat plane, without dimension or plausibility; it suffers from an ambiguous theme and lack of direction or character development. Silver may have had a good premise, she just didn't flesh it out or give the reader the infrastructure for independent interpretation. It seemed inflexible and formulaic. Using the mother's letters to her dead daughter was expository dialogue that made the story feel even more contrived, and rigid. Instead of steering the reader to form those profound moral questions, she forces the reader instep and stuffs a pre-set opinion down the throat.

No reader agrees 100% all the time with all the critics; but lately I've been wondering if I'm speaking the same language as some of those paid to give their opinion. You may find this book very good--I'd agree with that assessment, but genius, mesmerizing, gripping, outstanding, consuming, unforgettable? That's why I ignored the 24 hr. rule and wrote this review immediately...ask me tomorrow and I won't remember this one, but I will remember Elizabeth Silver.

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- Mel "Say something about yourself!"

"Like Silent Thunder" and other bad metaphors

After the first couple of chapters, I really wasn't sure I was going to be able to hang with Noa P. - the book seemed completely overwrought and bogged down with lavish descriptions of irrelevancies. These roadblocks to the progression of the story quickly became irritating. It slowed the conversations between the characters, as Silver took time to describe the sensation of every breath, precise descriptions of the appearance of one character's fingers pressed against a pane of glass, and other minutiae. It's tedious.

Despite the morass of words, the story picks up and becomes compelling at the halfway point. I genuinely wanted to know what happened - there is a strong story here, but it's hard to see it under all the linguistic frippery. I wondered if perhaps the excessive descriptive language was deliberate on the part of the author, to make us feel as trapped, helpless and hampered as Noa does; but even if this is the case, it was still annoying.

One huge pet peeve: at one point, bullets go tumbling into a backpack "like silent thunder." What is silent thunder like? Wouldn't it be like nothing? If something is silent, isn't is basically not at all like thunder?

ANYWAY. I still liked the book. Once the action gets going, the language gets terser and better. I found the ending unsatisfying, but only because I had come to care about the outcome. Worth a listen.

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- Elkay

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-11-2013
  • Publisher: Random House Audio