From Goodreads: The Cherokee believe when a person dies, their soul is reborn. Life is repeated. An endless cycle of lessons to be learned, love to be found, destiny to be fulfilled. For the past six months, in every flower, every bird, I’ve imagined my parents, relieved of their human forms.
Now, after five months at the Skye View Wellness Center, it was summer. A time for parties and friends, but that’s the last thing I want to do. So when my best friend Erin convinces me to attend a bonfire at Eagle Point, I can’t handle the crowd full of sympathetic stares or drunken class clowns who would use my tragedy as a way into my heart – or my pants. The solitude of the woods offers an escape, until I stumble upon a boy, unconscious and bleeding, his pockets stuffed not with identification but with poetry illustrating the beauty of dying. I’ve seen enough death. I will not leave this boy’s side.
Even after he wakes, when the only thing he can remember are visions of events that haven’t happened yet…
When I heard that Heather Hildenbrand was updating and re-releasing her wonderful novel, Whisper, I was beyond excited. I first read this novel back in 2012, and I thoroughly enjoyed it then. And knowing that scenes were going to change, new events would be occurring, and that the relationship between Hildenbrand’s characters would be turned up a notch had me eagerly awaiting this novel for a re-read, and let me just say, it’s perfection.
Whisper is not like any of Hildenbrand’s other novels; it’s completely unique to her writing style yet still innately hers through and through. It’s a captivating read, tackling the very real issue of grief, while putting a supernatural spin on it. While Hildenbrand has written many supernatural novels before, this novel has a more contemporary feel, and it’s attention to the tough topics of death and redemption are hard hitting, but extremely beautiful. Truth be told, not all readers are going to understand Whisper’s feelings or struggle to move on with her life if they haven’t experienced such debilitating grief in their own lives, so it may seem a bit slow to some readers; it’s not an action novel (not until near the end, that is). Yet, while it does start out slow, that’s the nature of this story; it’s not meant to be a fast-paced gripping novel, but rather one of love and grief. Those feelings wouldn’t be portrayed correctly if it moved any faster than it does, and I, personally, enjoyed this slower paced novel, allowing me to connect with the characters in a more real, vivid way than action packed novels tend to do.
Dylan is a most amazing character. He completes Whisper in a way that automatically brings a smile to my face, and I just adore him. Hildenbrand did a phenomenal job fleshing out her characters so well, especially Whisper, making the reader really feel for her, and all the characters, for that matter. Whisper’s grief is palpable and her character drudged up some long buried feelings I had concerning my own grief. Likewise, Taregan caused me to feel immense hatred, and yet, Hildenbrand was able to make me still feel sorry for him in the end; the fact that she actually made me feel for the one character I couldn’t stand is a testament to Hildenbrand’s sheer writing capabilities, and I really enjoyed this story, especially the Cherokee folklore, magic, and overall presence of the novel. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before.
I loved the changes in the novel as well. Hildenbrand has smoothed over some areas, added some steam, and she’s indeed changed the entire ending to create a more fluid conclusion. And I loved every minute of it. While I didn’t realize it the first time I read the novel a few years back, these updates bring about a real sense of connectivity, and they have strengthened the novel tenfold. If you haven’t read this novel yet, or even if you have, this updated re-release is a must read. Five stars.
I received an ARC of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.
I still couldn’t believe Dad’s good news. Months and months of research. Unceasing energy and determination. I hadn’t allowed myself the belief that it wouldn’t work. There was too much at stake for the animals. Especially Dolly. And now she was coming home to live with me instead of that nasty excuse for a trainer. I’d won!
I ate standing up. The microwave never cooked evenly so the outside edges were hotter than the middle. I didn’t care. I was starved. I didn’t even bother to chew until the fifth bite.
Footsteps in the hall behind me signaled Tinker must be off the phone. I waited for him to pick up our previous conversation, or tell me about some part of his day that I’d missed while stuck inside the walls of learning. But there was only silence. I turned and found him standing in the kitchen doorway, his hands limp at his sides and the most confused expression I’d ever seen on his face.
He stared at a spot on the wood-planked wall that bordered the breakfast nook. My eyes followed his and I found a tiny cross-stitched plaque that read “Home Is Where the Heart Is” in blue thread. Grandma had sewn it years before I’d been born.
“Tinker?” I repeated. “Who was on the phone?”
“A friend of mine, lives down by Port Creek.” His voice was distant, hollow.
I hadn’t been worried until the moment our eyes locked. When they did, it felt like a tidal wave rushing up to meet me. Suddenly, I knew that whatever he was about to say would be very, very bad.
The doorbell rang, its chime echoing through the otherwise still house. I stared back at Tinker. Something final rested in his eyes. The only time I’d ever seen him look like that …
“I’ll get it,” I said around the lump in my throat.
I tossed the spaghetti aside and went to the door, sliding carefully by Tinker on my way. I didn’t want to touch him. It was something about the energy he gave off, and I knew if I touched him it would infect me. He didn’t move to follow.
I pulled open the door and found a man in a dark uniform staring back at me. The shiny silver buttons on his shirt matched a gleaming badge on his belt loop. His hat was big enough that, had it been yellow, this could’ve been a scene from Curious George Goes to Colorado.
“Ms. Whisper Grant?” he asked. His thin lips arched into a frown when he spoke.
“Yes?” I said. Tinker came up behind me. I felt his hand come down heavily onto my shoulder.
“I’m State Trooper Nelson. This is Hefley.” He gestured to another man off to the side, who I hadn’t even noticed, on the porch but away from the light of the door. His expression matched the first man’s. If they were going for gentle or caring, the twist in their lip ruined it.
Nelson consulted a single sheet of paper attached to the clipboard he held. “Says here your birthday was three weeks ago. You’re eighteen now. Is that correct?” he asked without looking up.
“Correct,” I confirmed. “Can I help you?” I asked. I felt the spray of another approaching wave and braced myself.
“Guess that makes you the official emergency contact.” He sighed like he’d hoped for a different answer. “I’m afraid I have some bad news. There was an accident. On the bridge near Port Creek. A pickup truck went over the embankment. The vehicle was registered to a Shawn and Anna Grant. They are your parents, I believe? A man at the scene said he knew you, gave us your address.”
Tinker’s hand squeezed into my shoulder.
That’s the last thing I remember of that night.
In fact, much of the next few weeks and months that followed is still a blur. Including the night I downed a pill bottle full of Xanax and went to sleep. Even after five months at Skye View, I still can’t remember it all. Over time, it’s become easier to cope with the missing pockets of time. To cope with the numbing sadness, the raging anger, the quiet desperation that came out of that moment of loss. But I’m still not me.
Tinker said I lost myself. He said it’s what animals do when the pain of loss is too much to bear. He said one day, I’ll find myself again. A new me, a version who is able to live despite the loss I’ve suffered. I told him that sounds like something Grandma would say. He said he learned it from her, and he’s learning to find himself again, too.
About the Author:
Author of Across the Galaxy, Whisper, and the Dirty Blood series. I write, read, and fuss at my kids. Oh, and I do laundry, lots of laundry. I’m pretty good at it, too. Sometimes I even read WHILE doing laundry – and fussing at my kids. I’m a multi-tasker.
For more information on my books, release dates, or just general stalker material, um, I mean FAN material, visit my website. www.heatherhildenbrand.blogspot.com. I love hearing from readers!
Likes and dislikes? I love vintage tees, hate socks with sandals, and if my house was on fire the one thing I’d grab is my Amazon Fire TV! (oh yeah, I’m a fan of puns.)