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The Whispers by Ashley Audrain

A page-turning psychological drama revolving around the lives of four women in a well-to-do neighbourhood, The Whispers delivers a thought-provoking read. Childless Pediatrician Rebecca, Blair, full-time mom of one perfect child, and Whitney, mother of three and career woman who has it all, portray three different sides to motherhood. One gets pregnant easily and treats her children as an annoyance, one devotes her entire existence to her only child, and one wants a child more than anything else in life. Not one of them is happy.

When a horrific accident puts Whitney’s son into a coma, the three women reflect on their roles in the tragedy. Their elderly neighbour, Mara, who lost her only child, serves as a mirror of the future for the younger women, her decades of being a wife who resents her husband and a guilt-ridden mother leaving her a shell who observes the women’s lives unravelling.

I loved the back and forth narration, split between the four women, showing their individual points of view on their own lives and that of their neighbours. It provided suspense, alternating from one scene to another, making the book hard to put down. The question arises: What really happened to Xavier? Was it an accident or something entirely different? And who or what caused him to fall from his bedroom window? As the neighbourhood lies and secrets unfold, it becomes apparent that something dark and sinister may live amongst them. 

Although I recommend the book, there were a few things that put me off. There seemed to be one side to the story. All the women were miserable at heart, no matter what face they showed to the public and their friends. The love and joy of marriage and motherhood took a back seat to their selfish needs. Neither of them deserved a good husband or a loving child. Also, the men’s voices were notably absent, with hardly even a shallow attempt to represent their points of view. Then there was the ending. Unless there’s a sequel, I’m not a fan of endings that leave me wondering. 

And so, I would love to read a sequel told from the men’s point of view, showing what happens next. How does this neighbourhood of dysfunctional couples move forward? Bring on the next chapters, Ashley Audrain!

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