By Ekta R. Garg
July 24, 2019
Genre: Women’s fiction
Release date: July 1, 2019
Rated: Bookmark it! / 4 stars
When a woman gets a disturbing phone call about her parents, she discovers family secrets that make her question her childhood. As she and the rest of the family work through the emotional and physical pain, they must decide whether they will face the past together or suffer individually. Author Kerry Anne King drives right to the heart of grief and difficult questions in the excellent, compelling novel Whisper Me This.
Maisey Addington knows she’s supposed to be a grownup, but she hasn’t figured out all the rules yet. It’s hard to do so when, for most of her life, other people have made her decisions for her. When she lived at home, her mother, Leah, pushed her in one direction or the other on a given day. When she started dating Greg, he did the same.
The one big decision she made on her own was not to marry Greg when she found out she was pregnant with his child. Now, more than a decade later, she has a beautiful, smart, self-assured daughter named Elle who astounds her on a regular basis. At the age of 12, Elle already has more common sense than Maisey thinks she does at 39. In fact, Elle reminds Maisey of Leah, minus the constant nagging and disappointment.
On the day that Maisey gets a phone call from her parents’ next-door neighbor, Elle is the one who lends her emotional support and Maisey needs it. Nosy Mrs. Carlton is making all sorts of strange accusations about Maisey’s father hitting her mother and then letting her lie unconscious in the house for days on end. Walter Addington is an accountant; the most dangerous thing he does is prepare people’s taxes. He’d never hit Maisey’s mother, and he’d certainly never neglect getting her medical attention.
Without a second thought, Maisey and Elle drop everything and fly from Kansas City to Washington state where Maisey grew up. She walks into an unrecognizable scene: Leah is in a coma and Walter is confused. Then she makes a discovery that causes her to question her entire childhood. Leah worked hard to drum certain facts into Maisey’s head; now she finds out those facts are all false.
She doesn’t think she’s up to the task of finding out the truth, but there’s no one else to do it. With the unequivocal support of Elle and surprising new friends, Maisey makes a decision for herself; then it becomes two. She’s not sure, however, whether she can follow suit with the biggest questions, whether she’s grown up enough for those yet.
Author Kerry Anne King pulls readers straight into the story and doesn’t let go until the final pages of the book. Maisey is a deeply flawed yet winning protagonist. In a fresh departure from other novels, instead of using all of Maisey’s bad choices as backstory King allows Maisey to make bad choices on the page. Even as some of those choices may cause readers to cringe, they ground the novel in reality.
Strong tween characters often come across as snarky or unrealistic, but King scores another winner with Maisey’s daughter, Elle. Her self-confidence provides the perfect foil to Maisey’s constant self-doubt, and King balances the two with ease. When the time comes for Maisey to show how she’s grown and become more sure of herself, Elle retreats into her pre-teen shell. The result is a subplot that displays in the best way possible just how fluid the entire issue of self esteem can be.
While Leah’s journal might read a little more dramatically than the rest of the book, readers will probably forgive the tone of the passages in favor of their content. King also mines the depths of love interest Tony and former boyfriend Greg in a way that will empower readers. For those who enjoy strong characters and a strong plot with ample emotional support, I recommend readers Bookmark Whisper Me This.