On Wednesday, November 25, at 2:43 P. M., Eastern Standard Time, Branwell Zamborska is struck dumb. Nikki, his baby half sister, has slipped into a coma. Branwell dials 911, but when the emergency operator answers, he cannot speak. He cannot explain what is wrong. He cannot utter a sound. Vivian Shawcurt, the au pair from England, takes over. She tells the emergency medical team that Branwell dropped Nikki and shook her. Nikki is taken to the Clarion County Hospital, and Branwell is sent to the Clarion County Juvenile Behavioral Center. Branwell's dad asks Connor, Branwell's best friend, to visit the Behavioral Center to see if he can break the silence and find out what happened. Connor knows that Branwell loves Nikki. Why would he hurt her? Connor finds a way to communicate with Branwell and, with the help of Margaret, his older half sister, he begins to investigate the events leading up to the silence. Slowly he discovers what Branwell's problems really are and what it takes to help Branwell reveal what happened that Wednesday afternoon. More than a detective story -- though that element is here -- this many-layered tale explores in E. L. Konigsburg's unique manner basic human needs and emotions with suspense, excitement, and deep understanding.
When he is wrongly accused of gravely injuring his baby half-sister, thirteen-year-old Branwell loses his power of speech and only his friend Connor is able to reach him and uncover the truth about what really happened.