Part murder-mystery, part social commentary, part melodrama, Whisper Network hits every note of modern fiction’s wishlist.
Whisper Network was written by Chandler Baker and narrated by Almarie Guerra.
Suspense meets #MeToo in Chandler Baker’s stirring novel, Whisper Network. This novel explores the tensions between perceived gossip and serious responses to sexual harassment, and how at times the difference is hard to discern. More generally, Whisper Network reflects upon the quagmire of modern womanhood.
Content & Storytelling
This story centers around the lives of four women—Sloane, Ardie, Grace and Rosalita—who work at Dallas-based Truviv, Inc. The novel begins as Truviv’s CEO dies suddenly; the question of his successor inspires these women to rethink the hushed tones with which they have previously discussed their boss, Ames Garrett, and his inappropriate behavior.
Baker’s novel touches on plenty more than workplace sexual harassment; she incorporates a laundry list of challenges modern women face: postpartum depression, female friendships, infidelity, grade school bullying, working mom guilt, financial stress, and female body image. Baker’s characters are dynamic; at times I found myself torn between being disgusted with them and rooting them on. I think this is part of Baker’s point: victims of unwanted sexual advances aren’t perfect; they are simply doing the best they can as they flounder through the daily challenges of modern life.
The novel opens referencing what appears to be a suicide at the Truviv offices, and thus suspense begins to weave its way through Sloane, Ardie, Grace and Rosalita’s stories. Part murder-mystery, part psychological thriller, Whisper Network exposes ways the modern world normalizes sexual harassment and the many risks women take to publicly out sexual predators.
Length & Pacing
Overall this novel is fast-paced, but there were times I tired of individual character’s melodramas. By the novel’s close, however, I appreciated the complexity of each of these characters and understood the time spent in each of their psyches.
Writing & Narration
Almarie Guerra successfully narrates Baker’s novel as she brings Sloane’s southern drawl and Rosalita’s Hispanic accent to life. Guerra establishes a tone and accent for each character and as Baker’s novel jumps from one character’s perspective to the next, Guerra smoothly narrates these transitions.
The novel jumps around temporally (in the month separating the two deaths with which the novel opens) and in writing style: from narrative to deposition and criminal investigation interviews. Interspersed throughout is a collective first-person narrator, a “we” who seems to speak for modern women. By crafting the novel so, Baker keeps her novel’s suspense high, while also delving into the psychology of her four leading ladies and generalizing their personal stories to that of every woman.
This novel exposes the sexist nature of corporate culture and grade school bullying while forcing the listener to contemplate the flawed systems that exist to resist such chauvinism.
Official Description: 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.”