REVIEW: Whistle in the Dark, Emma Healey

Wednesday, 16 May 2018


Four missing days. Could you cope with not knowing? Jen's 15-year-old daughter goes missing for four agonizing days. When Lana is found, unharmed, in the middle of the desolate countryside, everyone thinks the worst is over. But Lana refuses to tell anyone what happened, and the police draw a blank. The once-happy, loving family return to London, where things start to fall apart. Lana begins acting strangely: refusing to go to school, and sleeping with the light on. As Lana stays stubbornly silent, Jen desperately tries to reach out to a daughter who has become a stranger.


Whistle in the Dark is unique in the way that it approaches the subject matter of the disappearance of a young woman - unlike other thrillers who amp up the mystery by examining the family during a disappearance, Emma Healey instead focuses on them after fifteen-year-old Lana returns home.
Unfortunately, this unique take on the subject was literally the only thing about the novel that I enjoyed, primarily because both Lana and her mother Jen, whose point of view carries the book, are relentlessly unlikeable characters. When it comes to the mother, her anxiety (or more accurately, paranoia) was just next level. I mean, I thought mine was bad but Jesus Christ, even with the circumstances of her daughter going missing, Jen’s thought-patterns and the inclusion of magical realism through hallucinations, were pretty damn extreme.
Just being in her head made me itch with stress.
And then we have Lana and, through her, I understand why most writers make sure that their victims remain missing for most of the novel - reading some of the things she said, the empathy that I felt for her declined ridiculously fast. The commentary that Whistle in the Dark has on both mental health and Lana’s older sister’s sexuality, most of which is done through Lana and her mother, was both offensive and just frankly unnecessary.
And, after pushing myself through seemingly endless pages of this book to get to reveal - also known as the part of a thriller that can turn a 2-star rating into a 5-star one - the ending was just unneeded, unwanted, and just added yet another book to the offensive pile of ones that attempt to turn mental illness into something that people who have perfect mental health can get emotional about, or hide from.
I just…. No.


Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Head on over to http://bit.ly/2y7JSWV for this book, as well as all of the others featured in my reviews, complete with the added bonuses of free worldwide shipping and bringing a little joy to my life.

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