Cover Image: The House That Whispers

The House That Whispers

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Member Reviews

Absolutely loved this lyrical coming of age middle grade mystery from author Lin Thompson.

Simon is such an amazing character, dealing with parental separation, an elder with dementia symptoms, siblings growing apart, and gender identity.

I loved how Simon would "correct" internally his name and pronouns until he is ready to share his truth, and I related to the struggle with feeling emotions instead of bottling them up. I felt the mystery of the ghost in the house was a powerful metaphor for bottled emotions.

Really enjoyed this queer middle grade novel!
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The House That Whispers is a middle grade mystery that explores gender, family dynamics, and change. Change can be very hard on anyone, especially kids who do not know why it is happening, so I think many kids will relate to Simon’s struggle. I love the way Simon tells the reader about his gender, how he realized, and how important it is to him. I thought that Simon changing his name and pronouns internally was a really clever way to avoid dead-naming him.

I loved this book so much that I devoured it in one day. I recommend this to anyone but I think kids will find a lot to relate to about Simon. I’m hoping this book will find its' way into the hands of young transgender children and make them feel a little less alone.
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Spoilers to follow, bewarned! 

This is a wonderfully written book. I felt each word was chosen deliberately to help us see who Simon is, at the same time as Simon is telling us who he is - and discovering who his family are, as they eventually come to discover about him. 

Simon being in the closet did not affect the reader knowing that he is a boy, nor did it affect that Simon knew he is trans and a boy. He is who he is, no matter who he has told. The way he describes originally 'becoming' Simon, and how it is originally a 'game' he allowed himself to play feels so true for many things in life - we allow ourselves to think little things in secret, as a game, because it's easier and less scary than admitting the truth right away. 

Simon's joy felt wonderful to read - every time he said his name, or reminded himself he was a boy, and he felt joy. Queer and trans joy is so refreshing and good, and he feels it even in the closet - the same way his sister Talia did before she came out. I appreciate that Lin Thompson wrote about how his anger would slip in as well when people did not know who he was, even though he had yet to tell them. It all made Simon feel very real. 

Talia, Simon's oldest sibling, is beginning to pull away from her younger siblings - but not for the reasons that Simon thinks. The reader finds out later that Rose, the youngest sibling, thinks both of her siblings are pulling away from her - something Simon himself has not realized. It was a detail I especially loved, about how sometimes you can't see the way you're affecting other people, and how they can't see the way they're affecting you. 

Each detail of the story worked to bring the story together and weave it into a whole - the haunting that wasn't really a haunting, the house beginning to fall apart as Nanaleen is aging and the family is changing, the stories of the past that become stories of the present, generational sibling love. 

I loved this book. I can't wait to share it with young readers as well.
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I wasn't really sure what to expect when I picked this book up but I was sure blown away. I feel like I don't often read many middle-grade books I'd label as purposeful, but this definitely ticks that box. I loved the characters, even when they were frustrating, and I just enjoyed that this was a story about siblings. Simon is a great character to follow and the way we see him deal with his family's troubles, plus his own personal dilemmas, was very creative (on both his and the author's part)
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Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: The House that Whispers

Author: Lin Thompson

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Trans MC with anxiety, Sapphic characters, Lesbian characters, Character with Dementia

Recommended For...: middle grade readers, paranormal, horror, contemporary, LGBT, queer

Publication Date: February 28, 2023

Genre: MG Paranormal Horror

Age Relevance: 10+ (religion, deadnaming, sexism, illness, ghosts, misgendering, divorce, anxiety, homophobia, transphobia, death)

Explanation of Above: Christianity is mentioned and shown with a scene or two with prayer. There is deadnaming mentioned, but not shown (check written review for details on that) and the same for misgendering. There is some sexism shown and homophobia and transphobia is mentioned and discussed. There are scenes showing dementia. There are mentions of ghosts. There are a couple of scenes of anxiety and anxiety attacks. Divorce is mentioned and death is also briefly mentioned.

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 336

Synopsis: Eleven-year-old Simon and his siblings, Talia and Rose, are staying the week at Nanaleen's century-old house. This time, though, it’s not their usual summer vacation trip. In fact, everything’s different. It’s fall, not summer. Mom and Dad are staying behind to have a “talk.” And Nanaleen’s house smells weird, plus she keeps forgetting things. And these aren’t the only things getting under Simon’s skin: He’s the only one who knows that his name is Simon, and that he and him pronouns are starting to feel right. But he’s not ready to add to the changes that are already in motion in his family.

To make matters worse, Simon keeps hearing a scratching in the walls, and shadows are beginning to build in the corners. He can’t shake the feeling that something is deeply wrong…and he’s determined to get to the bottom of it—which means launching a ghost hunt, with or without his sisters’ help. When Simon discovers the hidden story of his great-aunt Brie, he realizes that Brie’s life might hold answers to some of his worries. Is Brie’s ghost haunting the old O’Hagan house? And will Simon’s search for ghosts turn up more secrets than he ever expected?

Review: This has to be one of the most brilliant books I’ve read in regards to how a trans person’s true identity is displayed in the book while they are still in the closet. The book revolves around our MC who is being sent with his siblings to their grandmother’s home while their parents sort through their crumbling relationship. The MC is not out of the closet yet about being trans, but the author does not allow any of the characters to deadname or misgender him in text. They instead are written having internally processed the dialogue and, with the book as their inner monologue, is substituting their true pronouns and name for what is said to them and about them. I loved that approach to the character because it doesn’t feel right when deadnaming and misgendering occur to a trans character by the author themselves. The side plot of the story, however, revolves around the ghosts that reside in the grandmother’s home, which I really liked as a physical/mental manifestation to the anxiety and secrets that are occurring in the home that are now effecting our MC. The book touches on a lot of topics, such as coming out and being true to you. There is a particular quote in the book that goes something like “you’re allowed to have feelings. You know you don’t have to be happy all the time” and I think that particular quote resonates so well not only with middle graders but also older audiences as well. Beyond the amazing level of commentary in this book, I thought the story itself was well written, compelling, and kept me interested throughout. The book has amazing character development and world building as well.

The only issue I would have to say I had with the book is that I feel like it was a bit unresolved at the end and I wanted a little bit more of an epilogue, but beyond that it was amazing.

Verdict: I love it and highly recommend it!
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Absolutely loved this lyrical coming of age middle grade mystery from author Lin Thompson. 

Simon is such an amazing character, dealing with parental separation, an elder with dementia symptoms, siblings growing apart, and gender identity. 

I loved how Simon would "correct" internally his name and pronouns until he is ready to share his truth, and I related to the struggle with feeling emotions instead of bottling them up. I felt the  mystery of the ghost in the house was a powerful metaphor for bottled emotions. 

Really enjoyed this queer middle grade novel!
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The House That Whispers is a marvelous story with the uneasy feel of a horror tale, but it turns out to be very different. Dealing with gender identity, family dynamics, how relationships transition over time, and even the realities of aging, the book touches on so many life changes that readers of all ages can relate to something within its pages.

Simon’s inner dialogue bounces around in much the same way as that of those struggling with ADD/ADHD. From the start, I sympathized with him, and that was just during the car ride getting to grandma’s. Readers are also privy to how his gender identity is in conflict, and middle-graders will get a glimpse into how he is affected.

With Talia at 13, Simon at 11, and Rose, a precocious eight-year-old, the three siblings are quite young to carry the weight of their parents’ uncertainty about their future together. But that’s just true to life. The kids know something’s up, but both mother and father keep the truth to themselves, thinking they are preventing them from worrying. Still, the children know deep down, and their minds are working overtime, creating even more dire scenarios for what is going on.

Grandmother Nanaleen is also declining before their very eyes, and it is confusing when the children notice some of the manifestations. The author does a stellar job revealing Nanaleen’s struggles and the children’s reactions and fears. 

I recommend THE HOUSE THAT WHISPERS to readers of contemporary middle-grade fiction, coming-of-age, or facts-of-life stories. With its immensely relatable characters and the life changes they are witnessing or experiencing, this wonderful book kept me glued to its pages. It offers something for everyone, even after the reality of what is really haunting the Bradley family comes to light.
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The first thing that stands out about The House that Whispers is the wonderful characters. Simon is the main character, and I enjoyed them as a character. I loved the sisters as well, and how much they cared about Simon. The grandmother was also a lot of fun to read about, and she was so funny. 

At its core, The House That Whispers is a mystery. Simon finds an old photo, and this starts the journey of Simon and their sisters getting answers. This was also a story of finding yourself and the journey that young people go on when growing up. I enjoyed this story, it was fun, and it was also very heartwarming. This story had a happy ending and I was so happy with how the story ended. 

Lin Thompson is a fantastic writer. I loved how the more fun scenes had a fun tone because you could tell the characters were having fun, and you could tell that Lin Thompson had a good time writing this story. The House That Whispers also has some very serious and heartwarming scenes, and these scenes were told with a tone that was heavier as the scenes needed it. 

I recommend this book for fans of Middle-Grade. I really enjoyed the journey of this story and the characters.
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This book talked about many things and did it all too well. "The House that Wishpers" by Lin Thompson is my second book by the author. I loved the first book, The Best Liars in Riverview, but not as much as I loved this book. 
Simon’s character is well-portrayed throughout the book. The story starts with a car ride to Simon’s grandmother's house for a summer break. He was an 11-year-old kid who was super good at imagining things and was so "sure" that his granny's house was haunted. No, it's not truly haunted; it's just a distraction that Simon made up in his mind so hard that he believed it was true rather than face the reality of changes happening in his family. 

Simon’s sister, Talia, spends more time with her friend than with him, his parent's unusual behavioral change that he thought might end up in divorce, and his grandmother getting older; all these changes happened one by one. He couldn't process it at all. I love the author's choice of adding a horror touch to the story as a distraction that Simon needed. It makes the story more engaging.

Simon and his sisters, Talia and Rose, bonding in the story is so heartwarming near the end of the book that it made me love it so much. They are all so supportive of each other. Even though there were some misunderstandings and hard feelings at times, they ended up being there for each other. I couldn't love it more, that's all I can say.

This story touched on many topics like gender identity, sibling bonding, accepting changes, and accepting who we are. It's such a fantastic read. I highly recommend it to all.
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This book is about Simon, an 11-year-old boy, though only he knows that that’s his name, and that he’s a boy. Simon goes to his grandmother’s house with his two sisters for a week and starts to suspect that the house is haunted.

This is a great book for kids to identify and get familiar with the trans perspective and experience from a kid’s POV. The book is mainly a family drama at its core, and Simon faces many of the family issues most other kids his age would be facing. 

It does get very slightly spooky at times but nothing too scary, even for younger readers.

+ I found the pressure that Simon put himself under to make it seem like he was okay, very realistic. He keeps bottling everything up: his concern over what’s happening with his parents, his worries about what’s happening to his aging grandmother, and how he’s continuously less okay and angrier with people not knowing that he’s a boy. 
+ The book really drives home the concept that no one has to know you’re trans for you to be trans. You don’t have to look a certain way or do a certain thing to be the gender you are, as long as you know who you are.
+ I loved that this book handles complicated emotions and trusts that kids reading it will be able to handle it. I saw so much of my 11-year-old self in Simon and his confusion, anger and frustration with all that is going on with his family, his sister, grandmother, parents. 
+ The sibling relationship in the book is incredibly sweet. I love how they understand each other on a deeper level and have each other’s back even when they might be arguing. 
+ I loved the way the author handled respecting Simon’s identity despite the fact that no one outside him knows about it. 

- I had some trouble getting into this book. It felt like it was dragging even halfway in. Though it’s likely that the mystery around the ghost hunting would keep the younger readers more engaged. 

Overall rating: 3.7⭐️ (I rate books based on how much I enjoyed them. This is not an objective quality of the book, I think this would be a very valuable read for its audience.)

Thank you to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for the eARC.
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Wonderfully written coming-of-age story with a ghostly twist...

Simon and his sisters, Talia and Rose, are spending their Fall break at grandma Nanaleen's house while their parents "talk" about the status of their family. Simon is known for being the easy-going, happy sibling, so he digs deep to hide his anxiety over his parents' fighting and Nanaleen's increasing forgetfulness and episodes of spacing out. He is also trying to work out why "Simon" feels more like his name that his real birthname and why the pronouns "he" and "him" seem to fit better than the ones he was born with. But when Simon starts to feel a dark presence lurking around Nanaleen's house, he tamps down his feelings and distracts himself with figuring out what's haunting his family. On the hunt for a ghost, Simon will confront his own demons and learn it's okay to feel his feelings and be who he wants to be...

Thoughts: This book is one of the few middle-grade and upper-elementary fiction books with a transgender main character, and I'm here for it. There are plenty of arguments out there as to when children should be introduced to LGBTQ+, but I'd just like to say that, as an elementary librarian and former middle and high school librarian, our children learn so much about the world far sooner than adults ever start talking about it with them. And I, for one, appreciate that there are books like this out there for students who are curious or who feel unseen. Author Lin Thompson has written an intelligent and witty ghost story bursting with what it means to be a family, dealing with life changes, and how it feels growing up and realizing who you truly are. Thompson explains Simon's transgender status in such simple terms and analogies that any upper elementary and middle school reader can understand, and that adults might even find enlightening. Love is the central theme of this book and it pours out of every page. At the core, Simon loves his family so fiercely that he doesn't want to do anything to jeopardize their dynamic, including admitting how he really feels both about what's happening around him and what's happening to him. And the ghostly plot is a book-sized metaphor for the strong feelings Simon is experiencing, which so many young readers will be able to relate to and may help them put words to their own strong feelings. Plus, the ghost scenes are so descriptive that readers will picture exactly what Simon sees, sucking them right into the story. I can't wait to add this to my library collection!

**Thank you, NetGalley and publishers, for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.**
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Well what can I say Lin Thompson has done it again with a wonderful Contemporary about family past and present,  characters knowing that they were different and having the courage to become who they should be, and what happens when a beloved member of the family becomes old.  These are just some of the storylines which would make a good discussions.  

There was another character that played a big role in the story which really made the story more interesting and that was the actual house which Lin pulled off really well.

For all these reasons I am giving The House that Whispers 4 stars
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This says for fans of Kyle Lukoff which is almost overly true! I'm grateful for the rep of more trans kids in MG books, and the family dynamics of a kid dealing with parents fighting, siblings pulling toward and away from each other, and an aging grandmother. This is how i want all "OMG IS IT A GHOST???" stories to end, also, though no spoilers bc you don't know me enough to know what i hope for! I always want a little more character progress or things that i can't guess than i find in middle grades books, but mostly that's the name of the game with them so i can't be too disappointed.

I think this would be good to have in elementary school libraries, and i think it wouldn't be out of place in middle school libraries either, content wise, for readers who need this reading level there.

3 stars in terms of how i liked it as a book overall, 4 stars on a middle grades scale!
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*Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for providing me this arc in exchange for an honest review*

The House that whispers is a book about accepting who you are.

Simon, decided that he wanted to be named Simon. See, he wasn't always a boy. But that's ok. When he goes with his sisters to his grandmother's house he thinks her house is haunted. But he later realizes, that the house isn't haunted. He is..

He is haunted by his former self. See, he was born as a girl. But he didn't feel like it. And through his fear of admitting it even to himself, he got sad. So he decided to take the matter in his own hands.

Throughout this book they keep referring to Simon as a girl, with the she pronouns but you get the feeling that he's just Simon. And it's so overwhelming, and frustrating most of the times. 

It's a great book about the power of family, and love and accepting not the self you think you are but what you truly are.

I cried a lot in this book. Grab tissues. You'll need them.

PS I do so love Rose.
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Tender, funny, and gently haunting, The House That Whispers is yet another Lin Thompson novel sure to be considered a middle grade classic. I was so moved by Simon's thoughtful, curious way of viewing the world. His voice feels so true for his age, and yet so many of his fears and challenges are universal to people of all ages. I loved the setting of dear Nanaleen's house, the carefully chosen details about this family's world, and the queer love of years past whispering out of necessity. I also loved the nuanced portrayal of parents struggling in their marriage. It wasn't written as a ghastly tragedy but a tricky knot to untangle as a family, with love and understanding. 

By the end of the book, I was, of course, in tears. Lin Thompson is a wonder, and I love this book so, so much.
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Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for letting me review this book. This book  took a different turn than I thought it would take. I, at first, thought it would be about finding a ghost but it was more than that. It was about figuring yourself out as you grow up and sometimes I think it takes a lifetime. All families go through difficult times. I liked that Simon got the courage to open upto his siblings and then to his family.
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