Sisters’ special ability a mixed blessing in ‘Whisper’

Sometimes it’s better not to know. But sisters Joy and Jessica have no choice, since they were born with the gift of Hearing.

The ability to Hear the thoughts of others has passed down through the family for generations, and the girls have very different feelings about being able to listen to people’s most inner desires. Joy, the younger sister, considers her ability a blessing and uses it to grant people’s wishes. Jessica thinks her Hearing is a curse and bitterly uses it against others, especially her little sister.

At school, the girls run with two very different crowds. Joy, a people pleaser, has many friends. Jessica, however, has none and is the school freak. As Joy’s birthday nears, she fears her nutty sister will ruin her party with her glowering antics.

But it’s not Jessica who spoils Joy’s big day. Her Hearing changes, intensifies. And she’s about to learn something her older sister already knows.

“Get ready. You’re about to turn into me.”

Joy never really has been able to tap into her sister’s thoughts. But when she does catch a Whisper of distress, Joy knows her sister is in trouble. With the help of a male schoolmate, who has his own secrets, Joy sets off in search of her sister, a quest that could change everything.

Phoebe Kitanidis’ “Whisper” is an intriguing new addition to the young adult genre — and, hooray, no vampires. Joy comes off as shallow and whiny and Jessica as broody and maybe a bit melodramatic, but the author, of course, leaves the book open to a sequel. Perhaps another book would enable the characters a chance to mature and learn to use their gift in extraordinary ways.

At the least, “Whisper” offers some respite from the glut of blood-sucking novels oversaturating bookshelves.

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