Whispers In The Alders by H. A. Callum, Kindle Edition, May 26th 2017, Genre: Coming of Age, LGBT Fiction. Warning: May Contain Spoilers. Note: I received an ARC copy in exchange for my honest review.
by Leigh Holland
Whispers In The Alders is an emotionally evocative coming of age tale. H. A. Callum has proven himself to be a powerful storyteller. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began reading this book. As the story progressed, I began forming expectations, yet those were dashed as the unexpected occurred at each major point in the tale. Despite this, I was delighted and moved by this gem of a story.
Written in first person style, we relive the journey of tortured teen Aubrey Worthington, the only child of the man brought in to eventually lay everyone off and shut down the town’s factory. Most of the town despises Aubrey and her family. A functional alcoholic from a wealthy family, her mother is cold and distant. She wishes deep down she’d never become pregnant with Aubrey or been coerced into marrying Aubrey’s father. Aubrey’s father never would’ve landed his high status job had he not been married to Aubrey’s mother. He is a workaholic, more concerned with appearances than reality. Aubrey’s worst fear is falling prey to the cycle of broken dreams prevalent in the town and being trapped in Alder’s Ferry with her uncaring parents for the rest of her life. Aubrey’s life changes when she discovers the Alder Stand behind her new home and the boy Tommy who makes it his sanctuary. Neither of these children deserve the abuse they receive from the families who are supposed to love and support them. While most people could never imagine some of the things they must endure, these horrible events don’t turn them into jaded, hateful people. Tommy and Aubrey have each other to lean on and confide in. Their friendship is a beautiful expression of love, the “honest affection” they’d been “missing all their lives”. Although I hoped for the best for these characters, world-shattering events conspired against one of them in the end.
My favorite thing about this book is the way Callum gives each character, no matter how minor, a unique voice. The characters are complex. When Mrs. K does wrong, we wonder if we would’ve made the same choices. She’s not evil, merely frail and human. Although the tale begins with quite a bit of narration, once past this point the story’s pace picks up considerably and remains steady throughout. While character-driven, this novel provides numerous plot complications and a mystery for the reader to enjoy. Strongly moving, it tugs on the heartstrings.
I relished reading Whispers In The Alders. I’d recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys moving, coming of age stories. This book is now available on Amazon for $2.99 for the Kindle edition.