A paperback copy of the book "The Whisper Network" by Chandler Baker lays on top of a colorful salmon, gray, teal and aqua crochet throw blanket.

Whisper Network – Book Review

A paperback copy of the book "The Whisper Network" by Chandler Baker lays on top of a colorful salmon, gray, teal and aqua crochet throw blanket.

The Whisper Network

By Chandler Baker
Published by: Flatiron Books
Publish Date: 2019
Genre(s): Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Feminism, Sexual Harassment, Mental Health
HB&W Rating: 4
View on Goodreads
Buy on Amazon: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Synopsis

Sloane, Ardie, Grace, and Rosalita have worked at Truviv, Inc. for years. The sudden death of Truviv’s CEO means their boss, Ames, will likely take over the entire company. Each of the women has a different relationship with Ames, who has always been surrounded by whispers about how he treats women. Those whispers have been ignored, swept under the rug, hidden away by those in charge.

But the world has changed, and the women are watching this promotion differently. This time, when they find out Ames is making an inappropriate move on a colleague, they aren’t willing to let it go. This time, they’ve decided enough is enough.

Sloane and her colleagues’ decision to take a stand sets in motion a catastrophic shift in the office. Lies will be uncovered. Secrets will be exposed. And not everyone will survive. All of their lives—as women, colleagues, mothers, wives, friends, even adversaries—will change dramatically as a result.

“If only you had listened to us,” they tell us on page one of Chandler Baker’s Whisper Network, “none of this would have happened.”

Synopsis source: Goodreads

Review

Wow, this book is powerful. Pow. Er. Ful.

This book brought up soo many emotions…fear, anger, betrayal, frustration, guilt, empathy, and so many more I can’t put words to right now. How do all of these emotions resonate with me as a reader? Easy, I’m a woman, and this book tells my story.

We never understood the tendency to underestimate us, we who had been baptized and delivered through pain, who grinned and bore agonies while managing to draw on wing-tipped eyeliner with a surgically steady hand. We plucked our eyebrows, waxed our upper lips, got razor burn on our crotches, held blades to the cups of our armpits. Shoes tore holes in the skin of our heels and crippled the balls of our feet. We endured labor and childbirth and C-sections, during which doctors literally set our intestines on a table next to our bodies while we were awake. We got acid facials. We punctured our foreheads with botox and filled our lips and our breasts. We pierced our ears and wore pants that were too tight. We got too much sun. We punished our bodies in spin class. All these tiny sacrifices to make us appear more lithe and ladylike-the female of the species. The weaker sex. Secretly, they toughened our hides, sharpened our edges. We were tougher than we looked. The only difference was that now we were finally letting on.

Baker, “The Whisper Network” P260

I really loved the collective voice of women that Baker used as the narrator. It helped to hone in on all the different ways we are treated differently than our male counterparts, especially those that maybe we don’t recognize yet for ourselves, giving us that lightning bulb moment and showing us just how brainwashed we’ve been growing up in a society that was not made to benefit us. It helps put words to the thoughts and feelings we women may have had but couldn’t name or talk about. It gave us a voice.

Actually, a great deal of time and words had gone into the art of not quite believing us. Adjectives like “bossy” and “feisty” and “pushy” and “intense” became subtle excuses meant to help justify selective hearing loss.

Baker, “The Whisper Network” P187

I can’t speak for all women, but I think that most women can relate to at least one of the 5 main female characters in this book in some fashion. More than likely, they can relate to more than 10 situations or feelings explored in this book, from being the recipient of outright harassment to microagressions (like those in the above quote), or postpartum depression to mom guilt. The constant feeling that you are both doing too much and not enough. It’s a tight-rope line we all walk from a very young age.

The women in this story were incredibly well-drawn. They each had their different thoughts regarding their boss, Ames, and different thoughts about what to do about it. Feminism can be a very polarizing topic, even among women, and I think that the way the author drew each of these women and their thoughts and feelings around the Ames problem really illustrated it so well, and I hope that it makes female readers reflect on their own personal views of feminism and what that means. I hope it makes them reflect on their reaction to women who choose to speak up and those who prefer to stay silent. For me, feminism is about the right to choose for ourselves and not be judged.

I am a stay at home mom. A college-educated, intelligent stay-at-home mom. I could be a page right out of a 1950s advertisement. Except, I’m not. Thanks to the brave women who came before me, I had options. Not only was I permitted to attend college, but I was permitted to walk right into a bank and open my very own bank account without needing to ask any man in my family for permission. I was permitted not just to HAVE my own money, but the opportunity to take out a line of credit, apply for a credit card, and get a full-time job. When I got married, no one assumed that I would quit my job now that I’d landed a man, and when I had my children, I could choose to stay home with them (and we are blessed with my husband’s job that has allowed this). Even with all of that, I was still at a disadvantage. Truth is, I considered staying in the workforce. The problem then (10 years ago as of the writing of this post) was that the amount I would pay in child care would actually mean that I would be paying someone else to be able to continue working. Childcare costs were so exorbitant that I would have only been making roughly $50 per month. That $50 per month wouldn’t cover the cost of groceries each month, let alone any of the bills. Let that sink in…for all the other mothers (particularly those doing it on their own) out there. That’s a broken system right there, but I digress.

Women help women. Women believe women.

There’s a theme of betrayal in this story among women. The betrayals came in different forms, but always women betraying women for varying reasons, sometimes deliberately, sometimes inadvertently. And it is easy to lay blame at any of the women’s feet in this story, which I think ultimately makes the feminist movement that much harder. If we can’t accept one another and each of our varying motivations for our actions, all the in-fighting does is keep us from being united. If we can’t stand united, we don’t stand a chance. No chance, no change.

This book moved me on so many different levels and I am absolutely dying to discuss this with someone. I’ve recently decided to start hosting a book club of sorts on my Instagram called Books, WIPs, and Sips. This is where at the start of each new month, I’ll release the title to be read that month, then on the last Tuesday of the month, I will have an IG Live, where I’ll be joined by a guest host to discuss with you! If this sounds fun to you, grab your current WIP, your favorite cup or glass of tea, coffee, wine, whatever, and tune in at 7pm CST on the last Tuesday of each month. The Whisper Network will be the topic for discussion on April 27th, and I hope to see you there! Can’t make it, don’t worry, I’ll be posting it to my IG TV and YouTube as well.

::Update! You can find the replay of our BWS discussion here on IGTV or YouTube!::

Books, WIPs, + Sips Book Club
This title was a Books, WIPs, + Sips Book Club pick! Want to join in for future BWSBC discussions?? You can find full details in this post, as well as add your name to the list of potential guest hosts for future Lives!

The BWSBC happens on Instagram Stories Live every last Tuesday of the month at 7pm CST, with replays posted afterward on IG TV and YouTube. There will be a guest-host, books, yarn, a bevy or two, and lots of viewer interaction as we discuss that month’s book.

WARNING: there will be spoilers! Don’t worry though, I’ll let you know when to hop off if you haven’t read the book and don’t want to ruin the ending. 😉

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All opinions and recommendations mentioned in this post are solely mine. I would not recommend anything to you that I haven’t done, tried, used, read, etc. myself.


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