Monday, 10 July 2017

WHISPERS IN THE ALDERS by H A Callum @HA_Callum #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

4.5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK
On Amazon.com
On Goodreads


How I discovered this book:  It was submitted to Rosie Amber's Book Review Team, of which I am a member.  Interestingly, I didn't initially choose it as the genre and blurb didn't particularly appeal, but then I got talking to the author on Twitter (about something else entirely) and he asked me if I would take a review copy.  I'm glad I did.

Lesson for readers: don't bypass books just because they don't immediately appeal; you never know what gems you might find behind that quiet cover.
Lesson for writers: talk to people on social media!

Whispers in the Alders is set in the small east US town of Alder Ferry, where young teenagers Aubrey (female) and Tommy both suffer loveless, cold childhoods. Aubrey's family are wealthy, whereas Tommy's are poorer, and his life is quite brutal.  They meet in a wooded area behind Aubrey's family home, amongst the alders, a place that both of them feel is their only home.  This is described by the author as an 'alder stand', not a term with which I am familiar, so I looked up some pictures on DuckDuckGo images to make sure it was as I imagined it!


The book starts in the present, with Aubrey in Portland, Maine, as an adult; she has left her family and the prejudices of the small town long behind.  It then goes back to her early teens, and the loneliness she feels.  The books spans the period of this time until early adulthood, and follows the tragedies of her and Tommy's lives.

I'd class this book as literary fiction, as well as a contemporary 'coming of age' story.  Much of the writing is beautiful; I read that Mr Callum is a poet, too, and this is evident, but it's not wordy for the sake of it.  It's quite a dense sort of novel, with much description, and on occasion I felt it could have been trimmed down just a little, but that's just personal preference, and I certainly appreciated every line.  The plot itself develops slowly, with some shocking outcomes (child abuse and homophobia, but nothing graphic), and it's perfectly plotted.  It's a heartrending, lonely sort of book; I longed for Aubrey and Tommy to find happiness.

A hidden gem by an extremely talented writer, very American (which I liked), and one I definitely recommend ~ I hope some other members of Rosie's team pick it up, or that anyone who reads this takes the plunge and clicks 'buy'!




(incidentally - and this isn't a criticism of the book, but an observation - why do Americans say 'I could care less' about stuff, when they mean the exact opposite?  I've often wondered this!  I wonder if one day one of the 318.86 million might suggest they adopt our version of 'I couldn't care less'!)

9 comments:

  1. An interesting review, Terry, but "I could care less," would certainly confuse me.

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    1. Ha ha, it's only a few times, but I've come across it often, before, and on TV shows, and I've always wondered why!

      I think you'd like this book, actually. It's SO well written; you were one of the people I thought of when I said I hoped some other people picked it up.

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  2. Terry,

    My thanks to you for spending time within the pages of "Whispers in the Alders," and for coming to know Aubrey and Tommy's story. Thanks also for writing such a wonderful review, and recommending my novel to your readers. I wish you all the best!

    Cheers,

    H.A. Callum

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    1. You're most welcome, I hope it gets the book 'out there' a bit :)

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  3. Lovely review - sounds fabulous. I think I'll request this one :)

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    1. Oh good, I hope you do, you'd love the writing. So good to read something by a writer who as a real talent for writing great sentences ~ I kept stopping and re-reading bits.

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  4. Great review, T. I think I might like this one. I often wonder about that expression as well.

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    1. Oh good, glad it's not just me! And yes, you would :)

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