The Whispers

Greg Howard. Putnam, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-525-51749-8
Eleven-year-old Riley resorts to extreme measures to find his mother after she disappears, believing he is “suspect number one” in a case that hasn’t moved forward in months, the details of which he can’t fully recall. He always thought his mother’s favorite story, “The Whispers,” about magical woodland creatures that can grant wishes, was straight fiction until one night he hears them call “She’s here.” To find his mother, Riley seeks to recreate the tale, embarking on a camping trip with an endearingly motley cast of friends to enlist the fantasy forces. A running use of vocabulary words that grew out of a game Riley and his mom played both advances the plot and offers nuance to Riley’s emotions. Howard effectively layers Riley’s character and “conditions” (he has been wetting the bed since his mother disappeared, and his attraction to boys is at odds with his evangelical Christian upbringing), offering clues about his mother’s fate that readers will piece together before he does. This touching, often wry novel offers a memorable psychological puzzle and explores grief and acceptance. Ages 10–up. Agent: Brianne Johnson, Writers House. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/12/2018
Release date: 01/01/2019
Genre: Children's
Compact Disc - 978-1-9848-3840-7
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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