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The Whispers

Length: 5 hrs and 45 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (27 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A middle-grade debut that's a heartrending coming-of-age tale, perfect for fans of Bridge to Terabithia and Counting by 7s.

Eleven-year-old Riley believes in the whispers, magical fairies that will grant you wishes if you leave them tributes. Riley has a lot of wishes. He wishes bullies at school would stop picking on him. He wishes Dylan, his eighth-grade crush, liked him, and Riley wishes he would stop wetting the bed. But most of all, Riley wishes for his mom to come back home. She disappeared a few months ago, and Riley is determined to crack the case. He even meets with a detective, Frank, to go over his witness statement time and time again. 

Frustrated with the lack of progress in the investigation, Riley decides to take matters into his own hands. So he goes on a camping trip with his friend Gary to find the whispers and ask them to bring his mom back home. But Riley doesn't realize the trip will shake the foundation of everything he believes in forever.

©2019 Greg Howard (P)2019 Listening Library

Critic Reviews

“This taut, moving tale delves beyond loss into issues of sexuality, conformity and self-acceptance…a masterful exploration into the power of storytelling but also its dangers, including self-denial and escapism.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“Howard’s personal story helps create a fictional narrative both realistic and relevant, while also calling on the fantastical magic of the imagination…. A tale of family, friendship and loss, filled with magic and heart.” (The Associated Press

“A dreamy novel recalling Bridge to Terabithia.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“A heartbreaking, beguiling debut…This poignant journey through the badlands of grief is crammed with tenderness, wit and warmth.” (The Guardian)

What members say

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Amazing Author

Call me bias, as I personally know Greg Howard, but this is one of the best books I have heard. With 3 books under his belt, I cannot choose a favorite. This is a story that is close to home for him and a reality he may have lived in his imagination as a child. This is a great young adult books and would say a great book for any age. Thank you Greg for sharing your stories.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Internalized homophobia with no positive resolution

I really, really wanted to love this book. We need more middle grade books with gay protagonists, and more POC side characters. But I could not even like this book.

The first person narrator has so many layers of internalized homophobia that he parallels his struggle with wetting the bed to his “condition” of “wanting to kiss boys” (he never uses the word gay a single time throughout the entire novel). He is eventually “cured” of the peeing problem, but never resolves his fear of others knowing he is “funny” (his word) and his constant memories of the pastors and religious adults around him teaching him that he is a sinner who need to repent (and he does “repent” although this never “cures” him). Absolutely awful to put this internalized prejudice in the voice of an eleven year old narrator and never provide a resolution for readers.

Spoilers:

This book is ABOUT dealing with GRIEF and the DEATH of a parent. It includes fat-shaming of the black best-friend-side-kick with the barest hint of an apology and gross consistent fat-shaming descriptions. It includes weird religious overtones where the narrator repeats that he does not believe God is answering his prayers but continues to spout all of the religious teachings he has grown up with (so neither a positive or negative representation of faith).

I was so disappointed in this book.

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Enjoyable Read. It's really touching.

You might shed a tear or two. Expected the story to go one way, but goes another.