Review of The Whispers – Greg Howard

Posted: January 31, 2019 in Review, young adult
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Since his mother’s disappearance four months ago, Riley has become increasingly frustrated by the incompetence of the police and apathy of his family and friends. In desperation, Riley turns to the Whispers, creatures of legend that he believes can grant him his heart’s desire. But Riley has secrets of his own – and finding the truth could cost him more than he is willing to give.
Time-Travelling with a Hamster meets Goldfish Boy in this stunning middle-grade story of belief and magic, a tender exploration of prejudice, grief and self-acceptance.

The Whispers

Greg Howard

Puffin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Piper Mejia

It is difficult for anyone, let alone children, to talk about loss. It is an emotion we hold close so that we can keep going day after day. In Greg Howard’s novel The Whispers, eleven-year-old Riley’s life is already difficult before his mother disappears; he is being bullied at school and has a crush on an older boy. Unable to talk to his father, and feeling let down by the police, Riley decides to go in search of the magical fairies his mother told him about; fairies that will grant his wishes if only he leaves them a worthy enough tribute.

The Whispers explores the role of escapism as a way for young people to come to terms with experiences beyond their ability to resolve. Howard’s choice of a less familiar protagonist, dealing with familiar coming-of-age issues, reflects the needs of a wider community of young readers. This is a story that reminds us that we often blame ourselves for events out of our control and that emotional healing begins with self-acceptance.  A great book for our LGBTQ youth and wider community.

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