On August 1, 2018
#1 Best Seller in
In her childhood, Marley talked Maisey into adventures for which she abandoned Maisey to take the blame. Maisey’s mother told her that Marley wasn’t real, even though she was as real as her mother to Maisey. In her third decade, raising her daughter Elle by herself, Maisey continues to be scatterbrained and unfocused, and has never been normal according to Elle, who wants her to stay that way. Elle is 12 when Maisey receives a phone call that her mother is dying, circumstantial evidence pointing to her father, a man she has always known as a gentle buffer between her mother and herself, as the cause. She must go home and untangle the ugly mess, uncovering a mystery in the process. This sets her off on an adventure to uncover her mother’s secret, revealing much about herself and their relationship in the process. The love interest has his own secrets, and Maisey is the catalyst for his family recognizing his trauma and helping him to move past it. As the EMT / firefighter responding to her family’s emergencies, he is woven into her story as an eventuality.
King brilliantly sets up family dynamics that clearly show the repressed fear of the mother and the compensating kindness of the father, and how secrets create chaos and confusion in relationships. There are a couple of slight distractions from the story: Maisey throws up or feels like it a LOT; Whenever the love interest appears, he’s described in Harlequin Romance hunky terms. Despite this, the story moves along at a brisk pace, with the mom’s backstory presented through her journal, an intimate medium that elicits sympathy. It’s a very human story full of complex emotions and motivations, a must-read!
“Rich in emotions and characters, Whisper Me This is a stunning tale of dark secrets, broken memories, and the resilience of the human spirit. The novel quickly pulls the reader onto a roller-coaster ride through grief, mystery, and cryptic journal entries. At the heart of the story is an unforgettable twelve-year-old, who has more sense than most adults, and her mother, Maisey, who is about to discover not only her courage, but the power of her voice. A book club must-read!” —Barbara Claypole White, bestselling author of The Perfect Son
“Moving and emotionally taut, Whisper Me This is a gut-wrenching story of a family fractured by abuse and lies…and the ultimate sacrifice of a mother’s love. King once again proves herself an expert with family drama. A triumph of a book.” —Emily Carpenter, author of The Weight of Lies and Burying the Honeysuckle Girls
“Kerry Anne King writes with such insight and compassion for human nature, and her latest novel, Whisper Me This, is no exception. The families on which the story centers have secrets they’ve kept through the years out of concern for the damage that might be done if they were exposed. But in the end as the families’ lives become intertwined and their secrets come inevitably to light, what is revealed to be the most riveting heart of this book are the gut-wrenching choices that were made in terrifying circumstances. One such choice haunted a mother throughout her lifetime and left behind a legacy of mistrust and confusion and a near unsolvable mystery. Following the clues is an act of faith that sometimes wavers. There’s no guarantee the end will tie up in a neat bow, but the courage of the human spirit, its ability to heal, is persistent and luminous throughout the pages of this very real and emotive story. I loved it.” —Barbara Taylor Sissel, bestselling author of Crooked Little Lies
About the Author
Kerry Anne King is the author of the international bestselling novel Closer Home and I Wish You Happy. Licensed both as an RN and a mental-health counselor, she draws on her experience working in the medical and mental-health fields to explore themes of loss, grief, and transformation—but always with a dose of hope and humor. Kerry lives in a little house in the big woods of the Inland Northwest with her Viking, three cats, a dog, and a yard full of wild turkeys and deer. She also writes fantasy and mystery novels as Kerry Schafer. Visit Kerry at her website, www.kerryanneking.com, or follow her on Twitter (@Kerry_Anne_King).
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Content warning: brief references to sex, alcohol, drugs. Infrequent profanity. Multiple graphic scenes of violence.
Whisper Me This is not what I expected; it’s a much better story, deeper and more thoughtful, than the description would indicate. There are some basic questions: Who is Marley? Why has Maisey’s mother, hidden her sister’s existence? Why has her mother bought a gun and been practicing kill shots? How deep and far do the secrets go? I don’t normally read books with violence against women, but the description for Whisper Me This touched me, as there were similarities to my own childhood. I loved this story on so many levels! And while Whisper Me This starts out leading you in one direction, each story thread weaves its way about in unexpected ways. There are unexpected heroes, quiet guardians, and strong, courageous people battling through the mess and sacrificing themselves to save others. The writing is wonderfully fluid, the story more complex than I can go into, and the story threads tucked and woven into a coherent tapestry of triumph.
As the story starts, Maisey’s working yet another temp job when she gets a shocking phone call. Her mother, who has never approved of Maisey’s scattered lifestyle, is in a coma as the result of a head injury and her beloved gentle-spirited father is the prime suspect. But Maisey knows her dad, ever one to rescue the odd insect or small animal, would never, ever hurt her mother. They might argue and yell at times, but he’d never raise a hand to her mom. As she searches her childhood home trying to find her mom’s advance directive even as her father attempts to destroy evidence perhaps at her mother’s behest, Maisey discovers more than the physical trails: burned and shredded documents, a key to a safe deposit box, duplicate baby toys and blankets… She also discovers memories she hadn’t realized she lost, that imaginary friends might be real, and that her mother isn’t at all the person she thought she was.
I grew up in an abusive home, and while if you are heavily affected by PTSD, this story might trigger you, I didn’t find it triggering, but oddly comforting, nurturing, and wise, as many people in this story, women and men alike, walk along the road to discovery, recovery, and freedom. Yes, some stay mired in the abuse, but more lift themselves out of their circumstances through their indomitable will and the love and support of friends and family. There are some incredibly deep life lessons here, and I say that as someone who has counseled young women and my own daughter over and over, trying to arm them against the risk of abusive relationships. And if you’ve never been in such a situation or known anyone in a similar situation, you’ll still enjoy the story, because it work so well on so many levels.
There were some scenes that were definitely evocative of any abusive home, so many pictures of girlfriends, wives, and children held hostage by a violent person, such as:
“He huddles together with his sisters, all of them on one narrow bed. Vanessa and Jess have burrowed under a blanket. Theresa and Barb sit cross-legged, Barb hugging a pillow. Baby Mia is asleep in Theresa’s arms. Downstairs, in the kitchen, his father is shouting. His mother’s voice, low and soothing, answers. Something crashes and all of them jump. The baby startles awake and begins to whimper, but Theresa hushes and rocks her, and she settles back to sleep. Barb, always braver than the rest of them, tiptoes across the room to close and lock the door. Tony knows there is no real safety in this; the door to the room he now shares with Mia is cracked and hangs on its hinges, a reminder that locks can be broken and doors can be kicked in.”
I cannot tell you how many times I sat huddled on a couch with my brothers and sisters. Everyone holding their breath, as silent as rabbits waiting for the hunter but hoping it will pass them by if they are just quiet enough, still enough. We were statues, frozen, as we listed to the sound of breaking dishes, thrown furniture, and the raging of a parent that would destroy us if we caught its attention. I grew up believing that one day my mother would kill me. It was just a matter of time. (Ironically, I will never know which scars were inflicted by my mother and which were inflicted by my biological father. But it is the scars from my mother that took the longest to heal.) Okay, enough of the TMI personal info, right?
But in that same scene of abuse, there’s inspiration for change, as a young boy cradles his baby sister:
‘ “I will,” Tony says, louder now, feeling that his sisters don’t believe him. “I’ll punch him in the nose and make him bleed.” “That would make you like him,” Theresa whispers. “Do you want to be a man like that?” … “ Something happens inside Tony’s chest right then, a sort of melting that he’s felt before when he’s petting his neighbor’s kittens. He doesn’t want to shake Mia anymore […] He wants to hold her, and rock her, and make sure that she is happy and safe. Theresa nods at him. “That’s the kind of man you want to be, Tonio. Don’t you forget it.” ’
And Tony goes on to live his whole life driven to not be the man that his father was. While it isn’t always men that are abusive, for the most part it is in Whisper Me This. And that’s probably to the good, since there are so many stories within stories, that to try to work in one more dynamic just to get the full range of abusive personalities might be excessive. But then again, I think this author could pull it off. Interwoven into Whisper Me This are journal entries of another story, the journal of Maisey’s mother… a story that slowly winds its way through the whole, a background as rich and nuanced as the real-time action.
How can I like this story??? I mean, I cried through a ton of it! How can a story of abuse be satisfying? How can that emotional wrenching be good? (I can’t tell you how many Kleenex bit the dust during the hours I spent reading this book.) But this book for me was a wonderful reminder of how far the people in my life and I have come, it was a touchstone for current sanity and life assessment, and it was so incredibly insightful while entertaining. Yes, this is a wonderful story with many layers, but that’s not all there is to it. I believe Whisper Me This would be an invaluable guide and conversation opener for someone who wanted to teach young people how to avoid abusive situations or how to get through to someone who’s currently in an abusive situation, and it also serves as a reminder to those of us who left those abusive relationships in the past to forge a new life with healthy relationships based on love and respect.
It’s taken me several hours to be able to write this review, as it’s so hard to explain why this is not just good novel for a book club to read – and believe me, I believe every book club should read it – but what a strong tool this could be. It is SO important that young people have conversations about the very material that this book covers in a real and living way. It’s not just a guide, a list of grooming behaviors, or a PowerPoint presentation. It’s not dry and factual, but alive and vibrant and soul-wrenching. And it makes you consider what constitutes abuse, what is the line that divides love and obsession, respect and fear and offers several ways to step back from abusive relationships. I believe the very emotions this book evokes and the knowledge gained from the stories it tells can protect young people and older folks alike from abusive relationships and inspire others to escape them.
I’m very glad I chose this book as my July First Reads choice. Highly recommended.
I’m kinda on the fence about whether this is a 3 star or 3.5 star read but since it did hold my interest I will round up. Maisey receives a phone call that her mom is in a coma and her father might be charged with abuse and neglect. She races to her childhood home in Washington with her daughter and attempts to figure out what the heck is going on and why her father was trying to destroy family records. As Maisey digs around for answers she discovers she has a long lost sister.
Like I said before the book held my interest but I can’t say it was the most satisfying read. I hate to say that because the author did attempt to tackle a serious subject but I think the execution was slightly off. The first half of the book worked better than the second half because you are curious about what secrets Maisey’s mother is hiding. By the time everything is revealed it almost feels underwhelming. There were parts of the story that I thought were underdeveloped towards the end. I thought the introduction of Tony and his family didn’t feel natural although at least there was an interesting backstory there.
I think the best way to describe this book is it feels like a Lifetime Channel movie. The plot is interesting enough for you to watch, or in this case read, over the course of an afternoon, but it really isn’t anything you haven’t seen before. I do think some people will connect more with this book than others given the subject matter that is more of a theme in the second half of the book. Overall, it was a decent selection for my free Amazon Kindle First ebook.