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The Whispers

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,192 ratings  ·  295 reviews
A middle grade debut that's a heartrending coming-of-age tale, perfect for fans of Bridge to Terabithia and Counting By 7s .

Eleven-year-old Riley believes in the whispers, magical fairies that will grant you wishes if you leave them tributes. Riley has a lot of wishes. He wishes bullies at school would stop picking on him. He wishes Dylan, hi
Kindle Edition, 252 pages
Published January 15th 2019 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
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Judy Lindow Before chapter 1 his mother's favorite story is told and it's about the Whispers and how the boy discovers them. They know everything - all the myster…moreBefore chapter 1 his mother's favorite story is told and it's about the Whispers and how the boy discovers them. They know everything - all the mysteries of the world. At first he's incredibly curious to "see" them, to know what they're like -- and at this point before loosing his mother his wanting to know them is symbolic of wanting to know the mysteries of the world, how we are in youth, before we have suffered or lost someone important to us -- but they tell him he would have to give them his soul, in a way, and would not be able to return to the real, physical world. So at first he is curious. After his Mom disappears, he longs for them more because they would know where she is, what happened, the connection between her and him is made through this story, and on some level he is prepared to give his soul; he has never felt this deeply before and now he believes they could give what his heart desires - to bring back his mother, to tell him where she is, and ironically (spoiler) she is with the Whispers.(less)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  1,192 ratings  ·  295 reviews

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Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Whispers is an absolutely gorgeous middle grade novel about Riley, an eleven year old boy whose mother has gone missing. Riley believes that the key to finding her lies with The Whispers, wish granting fairies from the stories she used to tell him. Riley’s also struggling with his dad seeming like he doesn’t want him around anymore, bullies at school, and having a crush on an older boy.

Greg Howard’s writing here is so beautiful. All of the emotions and imagery jumped off the page. I appreci
Caleb Roehrig
So touching and beautiful and heartfelt. When I tell you I ugly-cried...
Erin Stewart
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. The voice and beauty of this book will whisk you away to a world where you'll believe in magic, too. Loved the setting, how real the characters felt and the emotional journey that Howard takes you on with this story. Was sad to close the last page and have to leave. ...more
Jun 28, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A year after his 2018 YA debut, Social Intercourse, Greg Howard entered the realm of middle-grade literature with The Whispers. How would his skills translate to writing for kids? Riley James is eleven years old, but he was ten when Mama vanished four months ago. He tells his father and a police detective named Frank that he doesn't know where she went, but Riley is hiding a few inconvenient facts. He thinks Frank suspects him of involvement in his mother's disappearance, but he would never hurt ...more
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2019

While reading I listened to this book too, which may’ve been a problem; it’s read by a kid, at first that felt like a good way to go, but as I passed more pages it started irritating me for some reason.

I don’t know how to feel about this book, which is the reason I avoided writing this review. On one hand it annoyed the hell out of me and I just wanted to be done with it, but on the other hand I saw that the story was grimmer than I thought. I’m blaming the synopsis for that because I e
Melissa Chambers
The Whispers is a sweet and tender story that takes place in small town South Carolina. While the plot is rich and layered, you'll find yourself getting lost in the everyday-ness of life in the country with gems like Riley's grandma's 5-4-3-2-1 fruit salad, "country neighbors", and the Pentecostal Corn Choir. You are guaranteed to be transported to another world with this very special, very extraordinary story about a boy who's navigating a difficult path. Highly recommended for middle grade nov ...more
Adam Sass
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story is not just a wonderful, sweet, moody mystery, it's also one of the rarest examples I've ever read of taking the point of view of a gay person at the moment they're starting to understand who they are. At 11 years old, Riley is dealing with not just the sudden disappearance of his mother, but also the guilt that his "condition" may be responsible. It's full of wonderful, charming voice and remarkable insights into grief and early gay confusion. This book is priceless! ...more
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
CW: bullying, anti-gay terminology/homophobia, child abuse, animal death, talk about segregation behavior

Riley has a strong belief in the Whispers: fairies that will grant you your heart's desire if you offer a tribute. He needs to believe in them because his mama has been missing for months now and if he doesn't believe...what then?

Greg Howard's middle grade debut novel was a well written, heart breaking example of how sometimes the belief we hold on to is all we have in the face of something f
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me a little bit to get into the book, mostly because the setting was very rural American, something I'm not particularly knowledgeable about, and haven't read a lot of. Once I adjusted to the setting and language of the book though, I was utterly drawn in.

Initially I was a bit undecided on how I felt about the author clearly putting vocabulary in with explanations to encourage children to learn; on one hand it was clevely woven into the story, but on the other hand I was worried it would
The Whispers was what I expected it to be, and not.
I love Riley. I love Dylan. I love best boy Tucker and the calendar of daily words and how Riley is such a mama's boy.
Despite the weight of the situation, the grief weighing down the family, Riley's voice was fresh and bright and I loved my gentle boy and watching him navigate his life. (view spoiler)
Ben Howard
This was such an enjoyable novel. filled with whimsy and deeply emotional moments.

Riley's mother has gone missing, and he feels like he's the only one invested in finding her. He believes that a story about The Whispers, that his mother told him, is real and that they know where she is.

With his dog Riley sets out to find The Whispers, a seemily fairy like creatures misted in blue.

I really didn't expect this book to get to me the way it did. I didn't go into it expecting to cry but I did. I shou
Marie the Librarian
Urgh this book!! I cried and laughed and all the feels!
I listened to the audiobook of this while sorting out my spare room and honestly if I hadn't I would have DNF'd it.

While I understand what the author was trying to do and the rep that he was trying to give it just totally missed the mark. I was very uncomfortable with the religious overtones and the language used was just too much sometimes. Continual use of 'condition' started to really get on my nerves.

Also the unreliable narrator aspect was just irritating. You go in expecting a fantasy ele
Mike Oaks
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Greg Howard puts a human touch on the loss of a parent. Young Riley's mom has been missing for 4 months and he's searching for her. He's convinced if he offers a tribute to The Whispers, he'll be able to find her. The audio book is narrated by Kivlighan de Montebello. So that'll give you extra feels if you choose to listen to Riley's story. 4.75 for kisses on the forehead. ...more
Sarah (Bookish Bug)
Such a sweet story about growing up, finding yourself, and forgiveness. Fair warning, get the tissues ready. I was not prepared for the emotions.

Thank you to the publisher for providing this book through Netgalley and putting me on the blog tour.

Read my full review at
I was reading this book for a Read Harder challenge but found the writing tedious and dull. I’m sure I can find a more interesting book to fill the challenge category!
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everyone rating this with less than three stars, as far as I can see, has not read the end or has really weird complaints about Frank. Lmfao.

Yeah so. Where do i even get started?
This was amazing. It wrapped up so well from start to finish, explained everything that went on in the course of a few pages, made me sob like a little baby at everything in the end. The writing style perfectly fit to explain what was going on with Riley. Everything was just amazing I don't know what to say. The characte
Feb 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rated 3.5 Stars:
I was hesitant and nervous to read this book because it had some mixed reviews, the mixed referring to some bad things happening to children.. They weren't wrong, there were a couple. One implied. This is not a book that has real magic as implied by the overall introduction, but Howard writes this well. This is not a book for grade schoolers. If it is, they're much more desensitized than I remember being. I'd rate this book as teen because of the content, though he does write an
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
This is not a fantasy novel or a fairy tale - I just want to make that clear. It's a coming of age story with a strong LGB theme. I found it well written and hard to put down. Although the main character's witty sense of humor provides some comic relief, the story is quite weighty and sad. The emotions I experienced reading this book were similar to those I felt while reading "A Monster Calls."

"The Whispers" is about an 11-year-old boy, Riley, who is looking for his missing mother. The events ta
Jenni Frencham
Howard, Greg. The Whispers. G.P. Putnam's Sons BYR, 2019.

Riley believes in the old tales of the Whispers, forest creatures who can grant wishes if you bring them tribute. He also thinks they know what happened to his mama and how he can take care of what he refers to as his "other problem," aka his crush on an older boy. But he's having difficulty convincing anyone else that the Whispers are real.

This is a whimsical story of a boy who still believes in miracles and fairy creatures, but who is al
Laura Sibson
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So grateful to have read an ARC of this middle-grade novel, which will be released January 2019. Greg Howard creates a setting so lush that I felt as though I were in the magical woods of South Carolina with Riley, his dog Tucker and Riley's friends. Riley is a believable 11-year old boy who worries about his family, wants to find his lost mother and isn't always perfect to his best friend. He's also struggling with guilt that the fact that he's more interested in boys than girls is what caused ...more
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received an advance copy of this book and I wasn't sure I'd be able to get into since it's middle grade. I absolutely loved Social Intercourse, primarily because Greg didn't hold anything back making it as realistic as possible. Obviously I wasn't expecting the same kinda content in this book. Something else I didn't expect was it making me cry at work. Yup. That's a thing that happened. This book is about as close to perfect as you can get. I absolutely loved it. Riley's voice is so real, you ...more
Jessica Calla
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a beautifully written, middle grade novel that made me smile throughout, but sob cry at the end. Riley is determined to solve the mystery surrounding his beloved mother’s disappearance, and turns to the Whispers for help. Mr. Howard takes the reader along with Riley through every step on his journey and shows us Riley’s Southern roots, his family, and his friends all through a perfectly written, middle grade voice. My heart is full after reading this thoughtful, emotional, hopeful story ...more
Incredible!!! Read in one day!
I'll admit to shedding a few tears on this one--only a few, though, because I was reading it in a coffee shop. I put it on my magical reality shelf, though by the end, you'll have to decide on how much--and what kind--of magic. ...more
H.A. Callum
The Whispers is the kind of story that gets you in every which way. This is the book I wish I could have read when I was a young reader. Greg Howard placed everything cherished in childhood on the line, and it paid off. Simply stated, this is a beautiful book.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a beautifully written story. Yes, it's written for younger audiences, but adults can appreciate it, too. If you were a fan of Bridge to Terabithia, you will enjoy this book. ...more
Sadie Forsythe
I intend to read this eventually. But I have to tear it away from my daughter first.
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
So gentle and so heartbreaking, at the same time...
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Greg Howard grew up near the coast of South Carolina, or as he fondly refers to it, “the armpit of the American South.” By the time he could afford professional therapy and medication, the damage had already been done. His hometown of Georgetown, South Carolina is known as the “Ghost Capital of the South,” (seriously…there’s a sign), and was always a great source of material for his overactive ima ...more

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