“A well-told story about a hot button topic ― a book that’s sure to entertain and lead to some interesting discussions”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
“If only you’d listened to us, none of this would have happened.”
Whisper Network is Chandler Baker’s début adult novel and is inspired by her own experience as a law intern who benefitted from a whisper network – an informal chain of information passed quietly from one woman to another. In Baker’s novel, this chain is a list which aims to protect other women by detailing men from the local area who abused their power and sexually harassed or assaulted someone.
This brilliant, novel follows three strong women working in the law team of a sports brand, Sloane Glover, Ardie Valdez and Grace Stanton, as well as the building’s cleaner, Rosalita who silently sees and hears more than people expect. Alongside these characters, we also meet, their boss; Ames Garrett, a new hire; Katherine, and a New York lawyer; Cosette.
Each of the four central female characters, as well as being part of the book’s main plot, has their own subplot which adds further depth to this book and allows the author to explore more themes and struggles in women’s lives. Sloane is a mother and wife whose daughter is being bullied at school, Grace is a new mother struggling with her work-life balance, Ardie is a divorcee and a single mother, and Rosalita is a mother struggling with money and a half-deaf son. Through these different perspectives of work life and family life, Chandler Baker highlights an issue that predominately falls on women’s shoulders, childcare.
The book’s plot is told through the eyes of an omniscient character with each chapter following one of the main characters. The story is told in a chronological narrative which takes you through the journeys of each of these women, creating an emotional journey for the reader who learns new revelations alongside these women.
Interspersed within these chronological chapters are also pages laid out like police interviews and lawsuit depositions which adds a mysterious edge to the book, hinting at incidents that are yet to come and creating a thoroughly gripping read. Baker leaves it almost to the very end to reveal each truth which left me audibly gasping when I read them.
Through this novel, Chandler Baker not only tackles the issues surrounding reporting sexual harassment/assault but also successfully highlights the fears and pitfalls women face in everyday life, living in a man’s world. From being talked over in meetings to holding our keys between our hands in case we get attacked, these are idea almost every woman will relate to.
“It was impossible to remember a time before this instinctive and immediate fear for our safety had set in… The realisation that this fear was unique to us came later, that unlike the boys with whom we played with in cul-de-sacs when we were little, we would never outgrow the cautionary tales. There would forever be strangers offering us candy.”
Whisper Network is a gripping and shocking tale fuelled by secrets and revelations which will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. A fantastically feminist read, Whisper Network is a timely novel which explores the #MeToo movement and the fears and repercussions women may face when reporting sexual harassment through the eye-opening tales of four strong women.
As a result of this book, Baker seems to hope more women may be brave enough to speak up, she writes, “As we grew tired of whispering because what were we hiding after all? We had stories, all of us. Would speaking up cost us? Maybe. But maybe it would cost them too… Our endowment would be our words. Shouted out loud. For all to hear. We were done petitioning to be believed. We were finished requesting the benefit of the doubt. We weren’t asking for permission. The floor was ours. Listen.”
Catherine Muxworthy, Booksbirdblog
Added 29th January 2020