Thursday, 21 June 2018

Review ~ Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey

3 May 2018
My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

What's it all about..

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.

What did I think about it..

Every parent's worst nightmare is that their child goes missing but for Hugh and Jen Maddox this reality is all too true. As the story opens their fifteen-year old daughter, Lana, has just been found, relatively unharmed, but with nothing to say about where she has been over the frantic four days of her disappearance.

What then follows is a rather bleak story of a fractured family who struggle to come to terms with, not just, Lana's refusal to recall anything about her disappearance, but also, about her subsequent disruptive behaviour once she gets home. The way that this troublesome conduct affects the family is crucial to the way the story progresses and, whilst, it’s not always very easy to like Lana very much, there is no doubt that her unstable personality is what gives the book its drive and energy and certainly keeps the momentum of the story strong and meaningful. Lana’s volatile relationship with both parents, and particularly with her mother, is tested to the limits of everyone’s endurance, and it is to Hugh and Jen’s credit that they do their best to support this wild child who seems to push them away at every opportunity.

Whistle in the Dark is a perceptive dissection of a troubled family who seem to be constantly at odds with each other. The mystery of what happened to Lana during the four missing days is eventually revealed however what’s is more interesting is how the author gets us to that point and her fine dissection of family life is perhaps where the story sits most strongly.

The author writes this introspective novel very well and in Whistle in the Dark she so cleverly exposes the absolute anguish of mental health issues which can so easily fragment and eventually destroy family life. 

Emma Healey, a former bookseller, grew up in London where she went to art college and completed her first degree in bookbinding. She then worked for two libraries, two bookshops, two art galleries and two universities, and was busily pursuing a career in the art world before writing overtook everything. She moved to Norwich in 2010 to study for the MA in Creative Writing at UEA and never moved back again. Elizabeth is Missing, her first novel, was a Sunday Times Bestseller, won the Costa First Novel Award 2014 and was shortlisted for the National Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year.

Twitter @ECHealey #whistleinthedark

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