Kirsten's Reviews > Humming Whispers

Humming Whispers by Angela Johnson
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Feb 04, 08

bookshelves: read-pre-12-07, work-related, from-library, mental-health, fiction, children-or-ya
Read in May, 2007

When Nicole was fourteen, she started hearing voices and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Now her sister, Sophy, is the same age, and Sophy is struggling wtih the fear that she might end up like her sister.

I really appreciated Johnson's willingness to tackle a difficult subject -- the topic of mental illness, and the pall that hangs over others in the family, is not one that's often handled in children's and YA literature. I had the same frustrations with this as I've had with Johnson's other novels that I've read, though; she leaves some things so ambiguous that there is little sense of resolution, and the reader is left feeling confused about some of the events in the novel. The end result was that I felt confused about how Sophy had come to terms with her sister's illness and her own fears. Time is also severely compressed in the book; for example, at one point Nicole goes missing for several months, and there is little evocation of the aching days of worry and uncertainty that Sophy must have gone through. So, overall, a brave attempt, but somewhat flawed.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Meaghan She didn't disappear for three months in the story; she was only gone for six and a half days. Sophy says something like, "Last time she was gone for three months."


Kirsten Meaghan wrote: "She didn't disappear for three months in the story; she was only gone for six and a half days. Sophy says something like, "Last time she was gone for three months.""

I'll have to take your word for it, since I read and reviewed this three years ago. I still feel that, for being a novel that is by and large about Sophy coming to terms with her sister's illness, the author didn't do a very good job of actually showing how that happened. Your mileage may vary, however.


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