Review: The Whispers by Ashley Audrain (Spoiler-Free)
The pill? IUD? Look no further! With each one of her books, Ashley Audrain has managed to create the world's most effective forms of birth control.
She read somewhere that a mother should look at her baby with genuine delight, a nourishment as valuable as milk. She tried her best.
The Whispers expands upon every single aspect that makes The Push so great. Instead of following one character, we now embody four, each representing different facets of the terrors of motherhood. There's Blair, the loving mom who can't help but resent her husband. Whitney, the queen of the suburb, who can't quite temper the rage she feels when she looks at her own son. Rebecca, the ICU nurse who'd do anything to have a child of her own, even if her body won't let her. And Mara, the eighty-year-old onlooker who knows every secret of the neighborhood, but also harbors a few of her own.
Through these four women, we get to hear it all. The good, the bad, and the monstrous. What I love so much about Audrain's writing is that she always leaves room for the smallest inkling of doubt. You can never be sure of anything you're told. But your mind still jumps to make the ugliest connections. Because the thoughts these women have, the things they do... Let's just say I don't understand how Audrain lets anyone she knows in real life read her work.
I took a class a few semesters ago called Dangerous Children. The syllabus included many works meant for both children and adults, but one author in particular left a lasting impact: Henry James. The Turn of the Screw and What Maisie Knew (a shame that they rhyme) haunt me to this day, and the ghosts of the children of these texts can be found swirling through the pages of Audrain's work. While the grown women of her novels, the mothers, are the ones spewing with the most perturbed thoughts, there is still something undeniably terrifying about their children.
Because yes, the main horrors are the questions that loom over parents: What if I don't love my own child? What do I do if they don't love me? Because it's true, you cannot control what you love or what you want. But what does that do to a person? How might an unwanted child act? What happens when a baby is suckled on nothing but revenge?
Read The Whispers or The Push to find out 😈
'Of course, every mother wants their kids to be happy. I just mean, it's nearly impossible for a woman not to lose herself in the process. It's a kind of... voluntary death, in a way.'
But Blair doesn't say anything. And then the silence feels too heavy.
'Well, in any event. Fuck. It's not for the faint of heart, is it?'