- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Harper (July 24, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062309714
- ISBN-13: 978-0062309716
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 27 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #514,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Whistle in the Dark: A Novel Hardcover – July 24, 2018
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“[An] absorbing thriller. . . . Healey writes movingly about motherly love, and the pain that comes when you can’t protect your own, even from themselves.” (The New Yorker)
“For those who like their thrillers a little more literary, this one’s for you. Healey’s follow-up to her breakout Elizabeth Is Missing promises a psychologically arresting mystery surrounding the disappearance of a 15-year-old girl. Intriguing commentary on mental illness, trauma, and family life abounds.” (Entertainment Weekly, “Summer’s 11 Hottest Thrillers”)
“What starts with a thrillerish seteup—missing teen—takes us to a more familiar but equally disturbing place. Trying to understand what happened to her daughter, Jen learns that we may be our own greatest fear.” (Family Circle, “Summer’s Best Books”)
“You have to read Whistle in the Dark. . . . A powerful novel about shared trauma, the effects of mental health on the family, and the pressures of motherhood, this is a slow-burning and utterly unsettling domestic thriller you will have a hard time putting down.” (Bustle)
“Gripping psychological suspense pitting a hostile teen who won’t explain herself against a mom turned detective who’ll risk even her sanity to reach her daughter.”
(People, “The Best New Books”)
“An absorbing view of a family, with the emphasis on the mother-daughter connection, in which—flaws aside—love shines through.” (Booklist (starred review))
“I don’t know anyone else who writes like this. Emma Healey’s voice soars, sings, and startles as she takes you right under the skin of her characters. She ‘magics’ the ordinary into the extraordinary and, just as impressively, transposes the extraordinary to the ordinary. Unforgettable.” (Jane Corry, author of My Husband’s Wife and Blood Sisters)
PRAISE FOR ELIZABETH IS MISSING: (:)
“[A] knockout debut...Ms. Healey’s audacious conception and formidable talent combine in a bravura performance that sustains its momentum and pathos to the last.” (Wall Street Journal)
“Spellbinding.” (New York Times Book Review)
From the Back Cover
From award-winning novelist Emma Healey comes a wry, poignant, sharply observed new novel about mothers and daughters in the modern age.
Jen and Hugh Maddox have just survived every parent’s worst nightmare.
Relieved but still terrified, they sit by the hospital bedside of their fifteen-year-old daughter, Lana, who was found bloodied, bruised, and disoriented after going missing for four days during a mother-daughter vacation in the country.
Lana won’t tell anyone what happened, and the police think the case is closed. But Jen can’t leave it alone. Lana is distant, hostile, and acting strangely: she stops going to school and sleeps with the light on.
Jen is sure the answer lies in those four missing days. Lana seems equally sure she’ll never speak of it. Terrified of losing her all over again, Jen has to do something. But how do you rescue someone who has already been found?
Asking how well you can know even those closest to you, Whistle in the Dark is a masterfully drawn, thought-provoking, and psychologically complex tale that affirms Emma Healey’s status as a writer at the top of her game.
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Relieved, but still terrified, they sit by the hospital bedside of their fifteen-year-old daughter, Lana, who was found bloodied, bruised, and disoriented after going missing for four days during a mother-daughter vacation in the country. As Lana lies mute in the bed, unwilling or unable to articulate what happened to her during that period, the national media speculates wildly and Jen and Hugh try to answer many questions.
Where was Lana? How did she get hurt? Was the teenage boy who befriended her involved? How did she survive outside for all those days? Even when she returns to the family home and her school routine, Lana only provides the same frustrating answer over and over: “I can’t remember.”
For years, Jen had tried to soothe the depressive demons plaguing her younger child, and had always dreaded the worst. Now she has hope—the family has gone through hell and come out the other side. But Jen cannot let go of her need to find the truth. Without telling Hugh or their pregnant older daughter Meg, Jen sets off to retrace Lana’s steps, a journey that will lead her to a deeper understanding of her youngest daughter, her family, and herself.
My Thoughts: I loved Elizabeth Is Missing, so I was eager to plunge into this newest book. The situations are very different, however, and it took me a while to warm up to the characters, all of whom I found unlikable at first. I am intrigued by dysfunctional mother/daughter stories, however, and Whistle in the Dark reeled me into those aspects of the book.
Lana was one of those teens that is annoying, yet troubled. You feel yourself wanting to roll your eyes and leave her alone, but her obvious distress keeps you engaged. But Jen, the mother, is a bit too pushy, and I can see how her way of trying to help Lana would make the girl close down even more, hiding in plain sight.
I liked the addition of Meg, the pregnant older daughter, who lightened the mood a little, but her issues also make a play for attention. When both girls seemingly grab for attention constantly, you have to wonder where the mother’s focus has been. On the sidelines is Lily, the grandmother, the only sensible presence.
As she struggles, Jen asks herself these questions: “Why did she have to drag this love around everywhere when, sometimes, she’d like to leave it behind for a few hours? Without that love, she could float away, let her daughter’s mood improve, let her put her frown and her sharp tongue back in their still-shiny packaging.”
Exhausted emotionally and physically, and at the end of her rope, Jen takes her own surprisingly cyclical journey that leads her toward all the answers she needs. 4.5 stars.
Jen and her teenaged daughter Lana go on an artist's retreat as a mother/daughter getaway. Lana goes missing but is thankfully found four days later. Grateful to have her back, Jen does not press her as to what happened, who took her or where she was. As Lana slowly heals from her injuries, her answer is always 'I can't remember.'
The police have no answers either. Jen cannot let it be - she needs to know what happened to her daughter, so she begins her own investigation.
While the question of what happened to Lana is the driving force behind Whistle in the Dark, it is about much more that that. The mother/daughter relationship is foremost. Healey's depiction is unsettling and somewhat dark. While I felt uncomfortable with some of Jen's parenting, there is no one template for the 'right' way to raise a child. Especially a child suffering from depression. Jen's husband and older daughter are also part of the story, but with a lesser impact. We do get to know Jen more through her own introspection. But again, I worried about some of her actions and decisions. I had a hard time connecting with her and found myself not sympathizing with her as much as I felt I should. She too has her own issues.
As the book neared the final pages, it confirmed what I thought might have happened to Lana. Spoiler avoidance - Healey's ending is a good metaphor for both Jen and Lana's struggles.
Whistle in the Dark was quite different from Elizabeth is Missing for this reader. Both explore relationships, memories, actions and reactions. This one was a bit of a slower read for me, more literary. But, Healey has a way with words.