The House That Whispers

Little, Brown. Feb. 2023. 336p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316277112.
Gr 4-7–A light mystery for middle grade readers. Simon’s parents need a “reset” and decide to take him and his siblings to Nanaleen’s house for fall break. Everything feels off to Simon. It’s colder, since they usually visit in the summer; the house smells funny; and the water stain on the ceiling seems to keep growing. After an incident in which Simon feels he was pushed down the stairs, he starts to believe a ghost is to blame for all the odd changes around Nanaleen’s house. On top of dealing with ghosts and worrying about his parents, Simon is also struggling with his identity. Simon is only his “secret name,” and he’s getting tired of correcting his name in his head, but he also doesn’t want to be another thing his family must worry about. Digging into family history proves to be a good distraction from everything, but will Simon have to face his troubles in the end? Thompson’s sophomore novel is a blend of mystery, light horror, and a coming-of-age tale. There are creepy moments in Simon’s hunt for ghosts, but most of the story revolves around Simon’s feelings about his parents, his sister leaving him for a friend, and struggling with who he knows he is. The story moves slowly, which may deter some readers, but wraps up in a satisfying way. Race of characters is not mentioned.
VERDICT Recommended for purchase where there is high demand for stories focused on identity for younger readers.

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