I went into this book as a rather reluctant fish with zero expectations.
Why the bleakness? LET ME LIST THEM FOR YOU. Firstly a) I’m not generally a contemporary lover (not enough dragons honestly), then b) the blurb is super vague and lastly c) the cover really just turned me off. This is because it’s very similar to the The Beginning of Everything cover which is a book I monstrously disliked…ergo the style makes me think it’s going to be a shallow tale about quirky characters and cotton candy and stupidity, etc. etc.
WELL GUESS WHAT, GOOD FIENDS? I WAS SO VERY WRONG. Whisper To Me is incredible. It gave me 9 emotion. NINE WHOLE EMOTIONS!! (I’m such a Vulcan, btw, so this is um huge.) And I think it’s one of the best mental illness books I’ve read in a looooooong time. *
* It’s not “perfect” but pfft, life is short and I’M GIVING IT 5-STARS BECAUSE IT’S DARK AND HOPEFUL AND UNDERRATED AND I WANT EVERYONE AND THEIR FISH AND THEIR AUNT’S FISH TO READ IT.
- A+ MENTAL ILLNESS REPRESENTATION
The exact diagnosis isn’t specified, but it’s either bipolar or schizophrenia. BUT OH SO EXCELLENTLY WRITTEN. It felt very real (which I assume is due to the author’s note talking about how he actually experienced hearing voices) and honest and brutally dark. Cassie is hearing a Voice and it’s so awful. It screams abuse at her all the time and MY HEART BLED FOR CASSIE.
- CASSIE IS JUST THE BEST
She’s quiet and she doesn’t talk much and I have a huge weakness for characters like that. (Okay so I never shut up online BUT IN REAL LIFE I’M VERY VERY QUIET. So I like characters like this. #relatable) Cassie thinks 98539 things and says 2 of them. Also she write the story in a very self-depreciating way which was wryly funny. And, I mean, she does frustrating things??? But she is hearing a Voice so I kind of think it’s realistic that she’s not always logical. Although the climax did make me want to HOWL WITH FRUSTRATION.
- FRIENDSHIPS AND RELATIONSHIPS FTW
It’s very very character driven and HUZZAH for all the complex dynamics in the characters and Cassie’s relationships with them. We have:
- CASSIE’S DAD: who is an ex-Navy Seal and has untreated PTSD so is kind of scary. Very controlling. Like he loves Cassie a lot and has the best intentions to keep her safe…but he’s kind of scary.
- PARIS: She’s in her early twenties and Cassie met her at the mental hospital. Paris has bipolar and is one of those BAZINGA characters, but she really really cared about Cassie. MY HEART = SO HAPPY. Paris would cuss your head off and then — BOOM — if Cassie needed her, she would be there with no questions, no hesitation. #friendshipgoals
- THE BOY: The romance was honestly adorable. And very very very awkward. But I totally shipped it?!? Because The Boy knew Cassie had been sick (not details) but he still liked her and he wasn’t pushy, he was just open and careful and afjdklsafd I loved him. EXCEPT HE HAS NO NAME AND I HAVE QUESTIONS. (This is because it’s written as a letter to him; ergo it’s all “you” and no name.)
- GLORIOUS UNIQUE FORMATTING
The whole book is an email to The Boy whose heart Cassie broke. She is explaining ALL THE THINGS — in transcripts of conversations, in letter style, and with the occasional interruption for a self-depreciating commentary on her terrible social skills. THIS IS KINDA A LONG EMAIL AT 500+ PAGES THOUGH. Anyway. The writing is 100000% excellent the whole way through. Cassie has such great voice! And it’s addictive.
- OPEN ENDINGS ARE MY FAVOURITE BY THE WAY
I give this book aaaall the points for being realistic. The ending is very open, be ye warned. I have a lot of questions, but I’m okay with that?!? The story isn’t over when the book is and that’s kind of like real life.
- HELP ME I’M HAVING AN EMOTION
I nearly cried. I definitely got goosebumps. It was just so so dark at times and honest and gritty and brutal. The characters were real and complex so when bad stuff went down I just — ajfdskladjsakdj. I WAS SO CAUGHT UP IN THE TALE. I LOVED IT.
- TOO LONG, WAAAAAY TOO LONG
I say this a lot but I don’t think a contemporary should be 500+ pages! For this one, there was a lot going on (mental illness, murders, friendship, slow-burn romance) and that was all glorious and I loved it…but it did drag. The plot felt unfocused. I NEED CONCISENESS.
- IT USES **** TO BLOCK OUT SWEARING
This is honestly just a pet peeve. I find it tedious?!? We know what the word is from the context of the sentence SO JUST SAY IT. I find books that use #&$@ or **** end up swearing more but pretending they’re not swearing at all. #frustrated
You might say I’m a “mild” fan of Whisper To Me.
HAHAHHA UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR. I FREAKING LOVED IT. I think what pleases me most is that I didn’t know it’d be so amazing. So it’s like someone giving me a snack and — BOOYAHHH — it is actually my favourite kind of cake of ever. This is a dark and brutal story. It’s sad but hopeful and my feels are in a smoosh. The character development was amazing and, sure I had a few quibbles, but between the epic and accurate representation of mental illness and the relatable characters — I AM SO PLEASED.
THANK YOU TO BLOOMSBURY AUSTRALIA FOR THE ARC. Whisper To Me by Nick Lake was published June, 2016.
Cassie is writing a letter to the boy whose heart she broke. She’s trying to explain why. Why she pushed him away. Why her father got so angry when he saw them together. Why she disappears some nights. Why she won’t let herself remember what happened that long-ago night on the boardwalk. Why she fell apart so completely.
Desperate for his forgiveness, she’s telling the whole story of the summer she nearly lost herself. She’s hoping he’ll understand as well as she now does how love—love for your family, love for that person who makes your heart beat faster, and love for yourself—can save you after all.
// click covers to read reviews //