Review: Whisper To Me by Nick Lake

Monday, May 2, 2016

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2016
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: eARC from Netgalley
Pages: 400

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

Wow. This book was absolutely nothing at all like I was expecting it to be. Quite honestly, I was expecting it to be more of a thriller type thing as there is a serial killer loose in the town. I thought that that would play a bigger part in this book than it did. I liked the turn this book actually took, but it was not what I was expecting from what I knew beforehand.

This story is written in what I think is a bit of an unconventional format. It's written in the form of an apology letter from the main character, Cassie, to a boy she hurt and is seeking forgiveness from, only referred to as 'you'. In the letter, Cassie pretty much explains everything that happened during the summer between her junior and senior years of high school. 

The letter starts from the point where she was walking along the beach and discovered a foot inside of a shoe, presumably part of the remains of one of the victims of the Houdini Killer who had been snatching sex workers, never to be seen or heard from again. From there, the letter explains, in great detail, all the events of that summer that led her to be where she is now. To how she hurt the boy she is writing this letter to and why she did everything that she did.

Cassie has led kind of a rough life. She has always been kind of viewed as odd by her peers so she never really had friends and she suffered a very serious trauma that she won't allow herself to think about. Finding the foot on the beach seemed to be the last straw that her mind could take and she started hearing a voice in her head.

Terrified of the threats the voice makes, Cassie withdraws from everyone around her and does everything the voice tells her, scared that the voice can actually go through with its threats. This leads up to her father finally having her taken away to get help.

But throughout this book, over just one summer, Cassie seems to make so much progress with her voice. She has a breakthrough on the trauma that's really at the bottom of this, she wrangles the voice into submission, only allowing it to talk to her at certain times and not letting it control her life. She's always seems to have been thought of as different, she didn't want people to know about this voice she was hearing so they wouldn't look at her differently.

She's a brave girl, she's smart, she just needed a little help. Things got so much better for her when she accepted the help that was being offered to her instead of taking her treatment into her own hands. I hope things work out for her.

I liked the boy that this apology letter was written to. Whatever his name was, he was just referred to in the letter as 'you'. He seemed like he was really sweet and so patient with Cassie even when she would get all hot and cold on him. He always wanted to believe the best of her because he knew she was struggling with something, but finally she just made it too hard for him and she hurt him too badly.

Paris is the first friend that Cassie has had in a long time. They meet when they are both under supervision at the psychiatry hospital, Cassie being treated for her voices and now that I'm writing this I can't remember if Paris had voices or not??? For sure Paris had Bipolar Disorder. I loved Paris. She is probably one of the only friends in a book that I can say I genuinely liked. I loved how she was always there for Cassie, even when she was having one of her 'Black Days', she would still be there. She was an excellent friend and a very fun character.

I thought it was interesting how the voice was written as if it were an actual character in the book. Which makes sense because the voice is a real thing to Cassie. And the change in the voice throughout the book as Cassie dealt more with her issues was interesting to read about.

Cassie's Dad is a retired Navy SEAL, discharged from the Navy after an injury. He has been raising Cassie alone for awhile now since his wife died. He himself has untreated PTSD from his time with the Navy. He almost seems like a cruel parent, not allowing Cassie to see the boy that makes her happy, or the only friend that she has made in a long time because of the nature of her work, or even allowing her to go out of the house.

I think that he had Cassie's best intentions at heart, he clearly loved her dearly, but he just doesn't properly show it.

I liked the romance in this book. I was rooting for things to go smoothly, but from the beginning, you obviously know it will not. I thought Cassie and the unnamed boy were cute together, they were both kind of awkward around each other, but they seemed to have similar interests and the boy remained interested even after some of her actions that might have seemed a bit weird to him. I think they made a really cute couple!

***The short paragraph below, I feel, could be a mild spoiler. I don't know if I think it really gives anything away, but I feel like if I would have known about this beforehand, I might have felt differently when I got to the ending.***

The only complaint that I find is that this book lacks a lot of closure and I feel that that was intentional. All you know about anything is what Cassie writes in this letter. It's like a cliffhanger. I'm not even really complaining so much as feel sad that I'm so invested in these characters that I want to know how it all turns out for them. I want them all to be as happy as they can be considering the circumstances.

Overall, I actually really really liked this book! There is a bit of mystery in it. There's insight into the mind of a girl with a mental illness that I found really interesting. It has a unique format that I thought I would think was weird at first, but actually ended up appreciating. If you're looking for a good book on mental illness, I think that this is a good book for you.


  1. Wow. Cyra, this is a great review. I really appreciated all the detail and your thoughtful reactions and opinions. I haven't read Lake's other novels because they didn't sound like my bag but after hearing more about this one from you I think it might be the one I pick up.

    If you are looking for read-a-likes (I'm a librarian, I can't help myself), the way you describe this story sort of reminds me of The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd, The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff.

    1. It makes me happy that my review convinced you to read this one! After I got approved to read this one I got nervous because I didn't know how much I would like it because it's more contemporary than anything I would normally read, but it really surprised me! I loved it! I hope that if you read it you love it to and I'm glad my review was helpful to you!

      I will definitely have to check out your read-a-likes! I have heard some things about The Impossible Knife of Memory, but I don't think I've heard of the others! I'm excited to read them now! :)


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