The Whispers

The Whispers

The Whispers
Greg Howard

Puffin

ISBN 9780241367087

A coming-of-age tale that will make you laugh and cry, perfect for fans of Time Travelling With a Hamster and The Goldfish Boy. Before she disappeared, Riley's mama used to tell him stories about the Whispers, mysterious creatures with the power to grant wishes. Riley wishes for lots of things. He wishes his secret crush Dylan liked him back. He wishes the bumbling detective would stop asking awkward questions. But most of all he wishes his mother would come home . . . Four months later, the police are no closer to finding out the truth - and Riley decides to take matters into his own hands. But do the Whispers really exist? And what is Riley willing to do to find out?

Librarian's Book choice


Reviews

The Whispers4/5

The Whispers

Greg Howard

Review

The Whispers of the title are mysterious creatures who live in the wood and can grant wishes. Riley's mama told him tales of these creatures before she disappeared. Riley cannot remember what happened that day and so decides, together with his dog Tucker and his friend Gary, to try to find The Whispers himself and ask them for help finding his much loved Mama.

Tangled in this mystery is one of Riley's 'conditions' - he likes boys and thinks this is the reason his dad doesn't seem to love him anymore, and is the cause of his mother's disappearance. Although this book is not difficult to read, the themes of traumatic childhood grief, homosexuality and homophobia are mature ones, and I would probably mainly recommend it to pupils of 11+.

There is a great deal of the author in this book and he says it is 'the most personal story I have ever written'. Like Riley, he had a strict religious upbringing, and like Riley, spent much of his youth isolating himself as he hid his homosexuality. There is a strong sense of place in The Whispers; the rural community, the cornfields and the woods. This was where Greg Howard found freedom as a child, and it is where Riley finds out the truth about his mama and his healing can begin.

The ending is a positive one as Riley realises what has happened, that his mother loved him unconditionally, as does his father. He also discovers that, despite his behaviour, his friends have stuck by him and will continue to do so.

A great book to have in your library partly because of its themes but also because it is a really good read!

256 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Heather Bignold, school librarian.

Reviewed by: Heather Bignold


The Whispers4/5

The Whispers

Greg Howard

Review

In the last 4 months everything has changed for 11-year-old Riley James. His Mama has disappeared without a trace, he is suspect number one, his brother and father have become distant and Riley is struggling with a bed-wetting problem and confusing feelings of sexuality. In his seemingly hopeless situation, Riley chooses to put his faith in The Whispers - supernatural beings who live in the woods and grant a person's heart's desire in exchange for 'tributes'. But how much of Riley's world is to be believed?

Set in a religious town in South Carolina, The Whispers will be far outside the experience of many readers and can take some time to immerse yourself in. The pace is slow at first and Riley's fascination with language - while admirable and an excellent way to improve readers' vocabulary - contributes to this. However, after a slight adjustment period this novel will draw its audience in with twists, turns and heart-breaking reveals.

The Whispers is an emotional tale of magical realism but while the narrator is just age 11, this story is more of a 12+ read. It won't appeal to everyone but those who pick it up will not regret it!

229 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Rhiannon Cook, school librarian

Reviewed by: Rhiannon Cook