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April 17, 2012

Early Review: Whisper by Heather Hildenbrand

Series: Stand-alone
Format: Digital
Excerpt
Release Date: April 19, 2012
Purchase: Amazon

The Cherokee believe when a person dies, their soul is reborn. Life is repeated. An endless cycle of lessons to be learned, love to be found, destiny to be fulfilled. For the past six months, in every flower, every bird, I’ve imagined my parents, relieved of their human forms.

Now, after five months at the Skye View Wellness Center, it was summer. A time for parties and friends, but that’s the last thing I want to do. So when my best friend Erin convinces me to attend a bonfire at Eagle Point, I can’t handle the crowd full of sympathetic stares or drunken class clowns who would use my tragedy as a way into my heart – or my pants. The solitude of the woods offers an escape, until I stumble upon a boy, unconscious and bleeding, his pockets stuffed not with identification but with poetry illustrating the beauty of dying. I’ve seen enough death. I will not leave this boy’s side.

Even after he wakes, when the only thing he can remember are visions of events that haven’t happened yet.

WARNING: THIS REVIEW MIGHT BE A LITTLE PERSONAL

When Heather told me about this book I was anxious to read it because this was her post-Tyler project. Tyler is Heather's personal angel, he was born December last year and only got to spend 5 days with his wonderful parents before he passed. Following Heather's blog, I saw her joy, grief and her pain from her posts starting from Tyler's birth to his death. Death is so final and when it's done, you have nothing to go back to so to describe it as a loss is truly an understatement because it's so much more than that. Unlike Whisper who lost both parents, I lost one to cancer a couple of years ago, so Whisper's journey isn't exactly the same but still it felt very familiar and honestly I went slow with this book because it brought back bittersweet memories for me. 

Death touched everyone, not just its victims.

The book opens with Whisper coming out of Sky View Wellness Center obviously after a much needed rest and therapy due to her parents death from a car accident. The first half of the book shows us how hard Whisper is coping with the loss: focusing on her work, being a little less social, sticking with what's familiar. In between this, she is haunted by fond memories of her parents, her last days with them, and that traumatic day when the cops broke the news to her about the accident. Whisper's vulnerability is tangible from where I stand, the smallest thing can trigger a string of memories which is why on the first 50% I found myself taking short breaks. Whisper's grieving process was similar to mine and there were moments where I felt it's too close for comfort. 

This attachment you have with him is weird, Whisper.

"Dylan" is a very interesting character, he has amnesia because of an accident and Whisper nicknamed him Dylan after she found a poem by Dylan Thomas in his pocket. He is Whisper's mystery guy whom she developed a quick connection with, at first I think Whisper saw herself in Dylan when she saw him unconscious in the woods. To me it felt like Dylan's physical injuries were a projection of what Whisper feels like inside, raw and bleeding from the pain of her loss. But as the story moved forward, Dylan was a good accident that happened to Whisper, he is exactly what she needed to help herself heal. In Whisper's words, Dylan was definitely his own kind of magic; the kind that made it exciting to live again. Yeah plus he's hot!

Despite my misgivings about this novel I enjoyed Whisper's story, it's a good take on a teenager dealing with the loss of her parents. But even with the motif of death in the background, Heather didn't delve too deeply on the pain but focused on moving forward with life after losing someone you love, choosing Hope over Grief, conquering death as Heather calls it. And that is a challenge in itself because it's easier to just give in to the tears, choosing to curl up in your bed in a dark room is more comforting because you're free to stay in denial as opposed to getting up and working on getting to the place of Acceptance. Which is why I admire Whisper's strengths, she's not in denial but rather she recognized the loss, when she feels sad she acknowledge the feeling but if there's an opportunity for her to remove herself from a place of depression, she takes the chance instead of succumb to those dark emotions.

I'd needed to see hope in the universe, a reason to go only the capacity for miracles, for life. But in exposing myself to that, I'd gotten even more.

Such a powerful statement and a testament to both Heather and Whisper's spiritual journey. This book is not religious rather it's an illustration that one can gain something beautiful from death and not just a gaping hole in our hearts. Obviously knowing where the inspiration for Whisper's story came from it feels intimate to me, in Heather's blog she even mentions that some scenes were inspired by her own childhood. So yeah, this book is personal and for that I applaud you, Heather, for baring yourself to your readers and opening yourself up for close inspection.

Whisper is Native American and that belief and their tradition played a role in the flow of the story but don't worry because it's not an in-you-face kind of thing, Heather's not selling us her beliefs merely illustrating where Whisper found her strength from. There are some mystical elements involved in the story such as curses, immortality, reincarnation but as you can tell what resonated with me were the emotions involved and not the paranormal elements.

Stay tuned for the Whisper Fact or Fiction blog hop starting on April 19 through May 1 where we get more intimate with Heather and see how other bloggers respond to Whisper and Dylan. I too am curious to read other people's interpretation of Heather's most personal story yet.



3 comments:

  1. *sigh* your review made my day. Not just because you loved the book, but because you connected to it. What you took away is exactly what I am hoping people see in it. The story should be a backdrop for the hope and the journey through grief. Especially for anyone who has ever lost someone. And if you haven't lost someone and just want a good story, there's that too. #Cherokeewarriorhottie

    But for those of us that have, there's something more. I am so glad you found it, and were able to put it into such beautiful words. Thanks guys, I heart you!!

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  2. Such a beautiful and heartfelt review. Not only was I touched by this book, but I was also touched by your review.

    Thank you for sharing your story and this book.

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  3. It's not often a review can make me cry.......

    xxx

    Michelle

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