A remarkable story of strange beauty and self-discovery from Printz Award winner Nick Lake
Cassie is writing a letter to the boy whose heart she broke. She’s trying to explain why. Why she pushed him away. Why her father got so angry when he saw them together. Why she disappears some nights. Why she won’t let herself remember what happened that long-ago night on the boardwalk. Why she fell apart so completely.
Desperate for his forgiveness, she’s telling the whole story of the summer she nearly lost herself. She’s hoping he’ll understand as well as she now does how love—love for your family, love for that person who makes your heart beat faster, and love for yourself—can save you after all.
Description taken from Goodreads. I received an advance copy of this book, to be published May 3rd, 2016, in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own.
There’s something about a forgiveness letter that’s beautiful and sad and bittersweet all at once, and that’s exactly what Whisper to Me is. From the beginning, this book spoke to me. Won’t lie, through this story, it was easy to see that Cassie made some mistakes. She was stuck in things that she couldn’t necessarily fix by herself, and hearing about her struggles I sympathized with her.
Execution was the greatest part of this book. I loved the narrative, and its letter format was what made Cassie endearing to me from the beginning. She was easy to relate to. Up until this novel, the only novel I loved for using second person narrative was Nancy Werlin’s The Rules of Survival, and I enjoyed it because the narrative was able to convey the intensity of the situation. This was the same way.
But hold up just a second.
There was one problem with the whole letter idea that came close to ruining it, but didn’t. There were segments that were so contrived and try-hard. I mean–I get it. John Green is contrived, Rainbow Rowell is somewhat contrived, but it works because in my head, Hazel, Park and Eleanor can sound like that. The narrative works.
The letter doesn’t.
There were passages in this story that didn’t actually sound like the Cassie that I’d come to know, and they only added extra barely quotable parts to Whisper to Me. Besides that, I ended up liking this book a lot. I was surprised by how much I learned about Cassie and the situation that she was going through. While there has been a mental illness kick in YA for some time now, this book brings a new perspective to all of it.
The supporting characters were not so great. I didn’t feel like I saw a ton of them. They tended to be one-dimensional or have completely defining traits for the entirety of the book. While I understand that since this is from Cassie’s perspective, I do love my supporting characters.
The ending was actually my favorite part of the book. Since this is in a letter format, you’ve probably guessed that the ending is an open-ended one. Some people hated that, but I thought it was the right decision. For one thing, I appreciated maintaining the letter format of the story. After much emotional turmoil, it was nice to decide what happens. One way or the other, I feel like this was better than showing whatever ending Lake thinks happens.
Overall, not a bad book at all. It’s a great contemporary with important messages about mental illness and forgiveness, both of which are very important for Cassie’s own growth. This is one that I will be revisiting and rereading. 4 stars.