Reader Reviewed Whisper to Me by Nick Lake

Whisper to Me

Written by Nick Lake

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

May 2016 Book of the Month This electrifyingly smart story of a teen girl's struggle with a tormenting voice in her head is a masterwork of contemporary YA.

There's a murderer on the loose in Cassie's New Jersey hometown, the so-called Houdini Killer, which sets her quick-to-anger dad even more on edge than usual. A former Navy SEAL with untreated posttraumatic stress syndrome, he now runs the family restaurant, a site of distressing memories for them both. After finding a foot in a sneaker on the beach - one of the Houdini Killer’s victims - Cassie hears a voice telling her that she's disgusting, and it won’t let up. Convinced she's “forever doomed like Cassandra of myth - the girl who leaves a trail of violence in her wake”, the bullying voice makes Cassie promise to obey it. And she does, with near-fatal consequences, when, for example she injects herself with her Epi-Pen, which results in her being hospitalised. In the clinic she meets the irrepressible Paris. A bipolar survivor of abuse, Paris comes to play a huge part in Cassie’s life, as does one of the boys staying in her dad’s apartment for the summer. The only time the voice is really silenced is when Cassie is with him, but the voice has other plans for their burgeoning relationship.

Taking the form of the “most screwed-up love letter ever” written from Cassie to the boy she falls for, this gripping, multilayered novel is an insightful exploration of grief, broken families, mental illness and the lies we tell others - and ourselves - out of fear. It’s also about losing yourself, and coming to find your true voice. Lake has a huge talent for tackling classic YA themes, but always forges his own path, cutting through clichés, stripping back the superficial, to reach the heart of his brilliantly complex characters, all delivered through spectacularly plotted storylines. ~ Joanne Owen

Reader Reviews

Teens love to read and so in addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can read their full reviews by clicking here.

  • Aimee Sweet, age 14 - 'Whisper to Me was fast paced and heart-racing - I never quite knew what was going to happen next...I became almost attached to the characters, and I must admit, a bit emotional towards the end.'
  • Amy Laws, age 14 - 'Emotional and gripping, I struggled to put Whisper To Me down. It was stunning from the very first page.'
  • Ella Grabsky, age 16 - 'This book had me gripped from the start. The novel dealt with a somewhat taboo subject in such a perfect way that I think this book is definitely one teenagers should be encouraged to read.'
  • Humaira Kauser, age 18 - 'Incredible. Hauntingly beautiful. A one of a kind masterpiece by the one and only Nick Lake.'
  • Lucie Harrison, age 13 - 'I loved Whisper to Me: it had a very gripping plot and characters that were hard to understand. I would recommend this book to older girls.'
  • Rebekah Marsh, age 13 - 'This insightful novel opened my eyes towards hearing voices in a way that I found it both informative and incredibly enjoyable!'  
  • Maisie Caitlin Sadler, age 14 - 'Whisper To Me is an unforgettably powerful and beautiful read about dark times and mental illness - a story which needed to be written.'
  • Maddy Faulkner, age 14 - 'I love this book. I love how the story is told in small flashbacks and really short chapters- making this an easy-ish read without being boring. I was gripped from page 1!!'
  • Jessica Anderson, age 13 - 'Overall, I absolutely loved this novel.  I read it in one sitting – it is now one of my favourite books!'
  • Phoebe Doherty-Ozobiane, age 14 - 'Thrilling and different, Whisper To Me is completely unlike any other book I've read. It was incredibly difficult for me to put down and left me feeling like part of me was missing, but I was simultaneously complete.'
  • Jodi Coffman, age 14 - 'This book was fantastic and I couldn't put in down.  It had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.  Truly gripping.'
  • Kezia Deakin, age 16 - 'After Cassie sees a dead foot she starts hearing voices. But the root of these voices is unknown: is it one girl's unravelling mental health? Is it a vengeful ghost making her last play for justice?'


Whisper to Me by Nick Lake

A message from author Nick Lake, ‘I can only imagine thought what it would be like to hear voices more often. And that’s what I have tried to do in Whisper to Me – to imagine it, and imagine how it could be conquered. Because these kinds of illnesses – traumas- can be conquered. That’s something I don’t have to imagine, since for a number of reasons and in a number of ways I have had close and direct experience of mental illness for a large part of my life. And I know, for an absolute fact. That people can get better. Things can get better. Life can get better.’

I love you. I'm sorry for what I did to you. I'm going to write it all down, explain everything that happened, why I broke your heart.

Cassie's own heart was broken when she was younger, by a tragedy she can barely talk about. She lives near the beach, with her angry father and his collection of reptiles, and a voice that whispers strange, dark thoughts into her mind. Cassie is seventeen and she is unravelling. Even when she first meets him, the boy, the one, she can't begin to imagine that anything could happen between them. That he might be someone amazing. That in the course of one summer, she will go to the darkest places and back again, with him by her side. That she might have to hurt him to save herself. Told in flashbacks, as a letter from heartbreaker to heartbroken, this powerful, unforgettable novel is intense, explosive and utterly gripping. From Carnegie shortlisted, Printz winning Nick Lake.


About the Author

Nick Lake

Nick Lake lives near Oxford with his wife and family. He works in publishing by day and writes books in every spare moment he can find. His powerful and moving novel In Darkness, about the Haitian earthquake, won the 2013 Michael L. Printz Award and was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal. His second novel for Bloombury, Hostage Three, also received great acclaim.

Nick Lake Q&A:

Previous occupations:

Being a book editor. No one told me at school that there was a job where you got paid for being a fan of writers and writing.

High school and/or college:

I went to High School in Luxembourg, and I went to Oxford University after that for a degree and then a fairly pointless masters. In phonetics, of all things.

Name of your favourite composer or music artist?

I usually lie and go for something clever like Vertigo. But really it's True Romance.

I would use the word "busy" eight times.

What is your motto or maxim?
To paraphrase the existentialists - life is what you make it. Which amounts to a practical kind of karma, I suppose.

How would you describe perfect happiness?
A fire, a good chair and a new Stephen King book. Or the moment the soundchecks finish and the band take to the stage. Or sunset on the mountains, with weary feet, and the lights of a pub ahead. Or the sound of a breakbeat. Or a very sweet tea, anywhere in the Middle East, at any time of day.

What’s your greatest fear?
Not being good.

Which living person do you most admire?
Haruki Murakami. Stephen King. Anyone who works for Medecins sans Frontieres or Amnesty International.

What are your most overused words or phrases?

If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
The abillity to play a musical instrument well. Also, the ability to speak all languages fluently.

What is your greatest achievement?
Meeting my wife.

If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
I wouldn't mind being Simon Cowell. I could make The X-Factor go away. Not to mention R&B flavoured pop music.

What trait is most noticeable about you?
I have no idea. My hair? It's usually quite big, because I keep forgetting to have it cut. I look like the freakish son of Tom Hanks and David Hasselhoff.

Who is your favourite fictional hero?
Sally Lockhart.

Who is your favourite fictional villain?
Steerpike. (Also hero.)

If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
I'd like to meet Shakespeare and I'd ask him how to write better.

What is your favourite occupation, when you’re not writing?
Reading? Actually probably sleeping, to be honest.

What’s your fantasy profession?
Bestselling and universally admired author.

What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
Compassion. Empathy. Humour.

If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
Chocolate, in any form.

What are your 5 favourite songs?

On Books and Writing:

Who are your favourite authors?
Haruki Murakami. Stephen King. Neil Gaiman. Margaret Atwood. Joan Didion. Ismail Kadare. Philip Reeve. Philip Pullman. Meg Rosoff.

What are your 5 favourite books of all time?

Tough one. I guess... Middlemarch; Coraline; For Whom the Bell Tolls; the collected works of Shakespeare... and Little, Big, by John Crowley - the single most unfairly overlooked, beautiful, miraculous and magical book I know.

Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?
I wouldn't presume to think of myself as someone anyone might look to for advice! But I suppose I'd tell them to read as much as possible, in as many genres as possible.

What comment do you hear most often from your readers?
"You're very... imaginative aren't you." I think they mean I'm strange.

Nick Lake introduces There Will Be Lies:

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Book Info


544 pages
Interest Age: From 12


Nick Lake
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Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Publication date

5th May 2016




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