Review: Whisper by Chrissie Keighery
I’m always trying to figure out what’s really going on. Always having to fill in the gaps, but never getting all the details. It’s like trying to do a jigsaw when I don’t even know what the picture is, and I’m missing one of the vital middle pieces.
How do you know if your friends are talking about you behind your back or if a boy likes you? They could act innocent, but you’d know from the rumours. You’d hear the whispers. But what if you couldn’t hear those whispers anymore? What if everything you took for granted was gone? Being a teenager is hard enough.
But being a deaf teenager?
What a gorgeous book.
I knew I was going to like it because I love Chrissie’s other work and this certainly lived up to it.
Even surpassed, I might say.
It the book was lovely and beautiful and gave the sense of isolation of deafness so well.
There are so many things I want to say about this book. I had so many ideas as I was reading it and I wish I had written them down.
I really loved that Demi had hearing before she went deaf: it was reminder of what she lost. I can’t imagine loosing hearing.
Randomly, I went to a primary school with a deaf facility. I knew it must have been important because deaf students came via taxi from all over Melbourne. After I graduated, they opened the facility up to hearing students so they could learn sign language, if they wanted. Both my sisters did (a quick Google search has shown me that now the school offers Auslan as a LOTE subject, which is awesome!). When I was in grade six, my prep buddy was deaf. Her name was Natasha and she made me the loveliest bookmark for Christmas that year.
So although I have a little knowledge, reading this book the research Chrissie did was evident and I found it so inspiring how an author could enter a world she doesn’t know about (okay, am taking a punt here and guessing Chrissie isn’t deaf).
I loved the development of Demi. Her maturity was subtle through-out the novel and was done wonderfully.
One word kept sticking out at me as I was reading: truth. I felt the entire novel was incredibly truthful. Everything from how she felt about her interpreter to being caught between her old world and her new world to her sister and mother to her life and her situation.
I loved her group of friends and thought it was incredibly representable of an average, general class of students.
I can also say genuinely that I learnt a lot. Don’t get me wrong – lessons weren’t shoved down your throat by any means – but by simply reading it I feel wiser (as silly as that sounds). I have a greater appreciation for the every day struggles (the scene where Demi is left alone at night particularly stuck out for me. I remember being scared staying home alone when I was younger too (and let’s face it, even now!) and I can hear if someone breaks in… imagine being not able to) and everything else she goes through. Even other simple things like turning away from the person – meaning they can no longer see your lips to lip-read.
Another one that stuck with me – and something I hate too – is when people say, “Oh don’t worry about it” if you’ve missed something. As Demi says, she wants to make her mind up if she should worry about it or not (or judge if it was a lame joke or not worth knowing etc).
I was sort of disappointed to discover that it isn’t actually Demi on the front cover. I love the water-colour picture; it’s just beautiful.
It was so readable yet heartbreaking in places. I wanted to hug Demi for most of it, however it wasn’t out of pity. Just to let her know it would be alright.
You’ll love this novel if you love good literature told beautifully.
It’s out today.