Whisper to Me by Nick Lake

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Whisper to Me by Nick Lake

Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A murder mystery, love story and exploration of mental ill health combined, this is a heady, addictive, paralysing read. Wonderful, wonderful stuff from Nick Lake, one of YA's most powerful voices.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 544 Date: May 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1408853868

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Longlisted for the 2017 CILIP Carnegie Medal

Cassie lives with her father in a New Jersey beach town. Dad spends most of his time closeted away with his insect collection. He's an ex-Navy SEAL who suffers from PTSD and its concomitant anger issues. Frankly, Cassie finds him best avoided. Cassie herself is doing ok, despite a recent tragedy. Until, that is, she finds a dismembered foot on the beach, thought to be from a victim of a serial killer stalking the locality.

The shock and trauma of this discovery sees Cassie's mental health deteriorate rapidly. She starts to hear a voice, which threatens harm to her and her father if she doesn't do what it says. As she struggles to maintain control and hide the voice from everyone around her, a new boy and a new friend come into her life...

Whisper to Me is written in the form of a letter from Cassie to the boy who rented the apartment over her garage for the summer. It's a confessional, drawing together the threads of her schizophrenia, her burgeoning love for the boy, her friendship with a wild, beautiful girl with bipolar disorder, and the search for the serial killer. It's long and winding and lyrical and tense. I couldn't put it down. And I don't want to say too much more because I think you should read it for yourself.

I love the ways in which YA literature is exploring and challenging topics that affect its readers. Whisper to Me is a case in point. As I hear news report after news report about the neglect of youth mental health services and more news reports about how many young people are affected by mental ill health, I begin to despair. But then I look through my pile of books to review and there are the YA authors using their voices to illuminate and amplify and, well, to make sense of it all. To help. It makes me feel proud to be honest, just to be on the edges of this community of writers and readers who are all, in a variety of ways, discussing things that matter. If you ask me, the grown-up world lags far behind.

I think, if you are looking for the perfectly-plotted thriller, Whisper to Me isn't it. There is a mystery. You do get the answer. But solving the mystery isn't the point of this story. This is a story of vulnerability, of love, and of battling demons. It's a testimony of crisis and a love letter, with a mystery aside. And I think it's just perfect like that.

Rowan the Strange by Julie Hearn is another tour de force. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, a young teenager is sent to a psychiatric hospital at the very start of World War II.

Buy Whisper to Me by Nick Lake at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Whisper to Me by Nick Lake at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Whisper to Me by Nick Lake at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Whisper to Me by Nick Lake at Amazon.com.


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