We Dare Not Whisper

Jan Netolicky

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  • Print ISBN: 978-1-941799-15-4
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-941799-16-1
  • 244 pgs; 6 x 9 in. matte paperback
  • Publication Date: December 1, 2015
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Luce Garrison narrates the unraveling of her stoic Midwestern family: a mother plagued by bipolar disorder, a father guilt-ridden by his inability to confront his wife’s descent into madness, and Luce’s own unassailable conviction that she can never be as loved as the brothers she has lost.

As a child, Luce often lingered over albums of glossy photographs, longing to be just like her lovely, enigmatic mother. But images frozen for an instant could not capture the lightless depression and manic bouts of frenzied activity which demonized Bets Garrison. Luce does not know the depths of her mother’s undiagnosed mental illness. Her only certainty? She is an inadequate substitute for the older brother who was stillborn just three months after her parents’ marriage.

After giving birth to Jonny, eleven years Luce’s junior, Bets develops an obsessive, disturbing devotion which trumps every other relationship in the Garrison home. Although Luce tries to minimize the gulf, she is excluded from the smothering attention her mother lavishes upon Jonny. Caught in a void, she can neither be loving sister nor cherished daughter. She can only be in the way.

Set in rural Wisconsin, We Dare Not Whisper explores the toxic legacy of a self-destructive family. With hauntingly beautiful prose, Jan Netolicky illuminates the suffering of individuals with bipolar disorder and the unthinkable challenges facing those closest to them.

“Jan Netolicky’s We Dare Not Whisper is a haunting, yet touching, paean to the beauties and complexities of familial relationships. With sharply written, heartfelt prose, Netolicky explores a family’s unthinkable tragedy coupled with a mother’s underlying mental illness, which ultimately reaches full bloom with the novel’s climax. Netolicky, however, is able to pull all this off without a jot of sentimentality—the mark of all great writing. In this poignant and timeless novel, the Garrisons feel as though they could be your own family, and they will without a doubt stay with you long after you turn the final page.”

David Armand, author of The Gorge, Harlow, and The Pugilist’s Wife

We Dare Not Whisper is an excellent work with breathing characters, high emotionality, and smart, good language. . . . with the emotional impact reminiscent of We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates.”

David Rhodes, author of Driftless (winner of the Milkweed Prize) and Jewelweed

About the Author

Jan Netolicky taught AP Language and Composition and creative writing at George Washington High School, a three-time National Blue Ribbon award-winning school. Her novel for young adults, The Skipworth Summer, was published in 2012. She lives with her husband, Rick, in Robins, Iowa, where she enjoys spirited discussions with the women of Serendipity Book Club, playing Mah Jongg (poorly), and volunteering for Gems of Hope, an organization to support cancer sufferers. We Dare Not Whisper is her first novel for adults.

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