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Whisper to Me by Nick Lake

Thursday, May 05, 2016 Geraldine 0 Comments

The Breakdown

General Info:
     Title: Whisper to Me
     Author: Nick Lake
     Genre: YA, Contemporary
     Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's
     Publishing Date: May 3rd, 2016

          - Such a human novel - a study on who we are as humans
          - Portrayal of mental illness

    Things that could have been better:
         - Romance - wasn't very invested in it
         - A bit too poetical for my liking

Rating:  4 stars
Goodreads | Amazon

Initial Thoughts

I requested Whisper to Me from Netgalley, because it sounded a lot like the WIP I'm currently working on. It turned out to be pretty different - and I am so glad for that, for multiple reasons. For one, I would hate to be writing a WIP that's already been done, and secondly, Whisper to Me ended up having so much depth - I doubt I could live up to it. 

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.


I loved how Lake constructed the characters. Although at times I couldn't connect to them very well, his portrayal of schizophrenia was spot on. Actually I have no idea how accurate his portrayal was, but my gosh, Cassie, the main character, was understandable, wasn't annoying and Lake helped me fully understand her actions, how her illness played a role in the decisions she made. Her father was so understandable - although he was characterised as rough, quick to anger, and I know I was frustrated at him - I was never mad at him, because I understood why he was that way, how human he was

With the romance, however, I honestly couldn't connect to it. I didn't see how Cassie and her love interest could work out, I never felt sparks between them. To be honest, it really felt more like the romance was used to show the debilitating effects of mental illness, which I appreciate now that I think about it, because a major impact that mental illness can have is on interpersonal relationships. But anyway, the romance didn't hook me in - and I never felt invested in Cassie's relationship with the love interest. 


The plot was intriguing to say the least. Reading Whisper to Me felt like I was peeling back layers of a story, not so much reading one. I loved how Lake kept us reading, by revealing new information as the book went on, so that not only was Whisper to Me a contemporary novel, but also partially a detective novel, of sorts. When I say it's similar to a detective novel, I don't mean that we read about Cassie going off to solve crimes (though yes, this does happen) - it's a detective novel in the sense that we are the detectives, and the mystery we are trying to solve is Cassie herself. 

I loved how Lake embedded so many crucial parts of being mentally ill in this novel. He wrote about seeing psychiatrists, about medication and its side-effects....he covered mental illness so well in Whisper to Me. Of course, I'm not 100% qualified to speak about mental illness, but from what I've heard from other people about mental illness and what it is like to have it, I think Lake has really helped readers understand what it feels like to be mentally ill. 

The one fault I have with the plot is that I didn't feel a sense of closure, I wasn't too clear where the ending was. But I think that was a deliberate choice by Lake, to show that life goes on, that books won't always give us the full picture. 

Writing Style

The writing style really fluctuated, and I say this as a compliment. At times, we had deep, beautiful words - at other times, we had the MC being really sarcastic and witty. I really enjoyed the balance of the two - at times I felt like there might have been too many poetical phrases, which made the book a bit too pretentious for my tastes. 

I really loved how Lake framed Whisper to Me as a letter to a boy that Cassie loves though - it made it more heart-wrenching, we saw Cassie's personality better, and it just added a human touch to the writing. 

Entertainment Value

Although I did enjoy reading Whisper to Me, I found that I had to force myself to read it? Maybe this is because it was an ARC, or because I was really distracted with schoolwork, but I had to schedule in times to read it, because I didn't feel like reading it was a hobby. 
Nevertheless, whilst reading it, it was enjoyable, I liked watching Cassie change, hearing about her back story. 

Final Thoughts

Whisper to Me is a poignant piece of writing by Nick Lake, that shows us the power of love, what mental illness can constitute and most importantly, what it means to be human. 
If you are looking for a diverse book that focuses on mental health, I would definitely recommend this book. Hopefully, with more books like Whisper to Me published, we can reduce the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses like schizophrenia. 


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