Psst. Did you hear the whispers?
About the alders…
What are “the alders”?
If you’re asking that question, clearly you’re not familiar with the super-awesome Twitter writing and reading community; otherwise, you would so know why many writers and readers can’t contain internal thoughts, feelings, and emotions related to a written gem that speaks to the soul. What began as whispers of excitement anticipating the release of predicted top notch writing has evolved into shouts of praise for H.A. Callum’s debut novel, Whispers in the Alders.
Why So Much Love for H.A. Callum and His Gem?
It is bursting with symbolism, imagery, lines you highlight because you want to revisit and savor them again and again, and most important, the characters, human and non-human, will evoke smiles, empathy, and the pitter-patter we all love to experience via the written word. As a lifelong lover of the written word, I anticipated Mr. Callum’s novel with great enthusiasm. “Guys, I’m super excited … I’m going to have the book written by one of my favorite writers on Twitter for Memorial Day weekend…!” I shared with my family when I learned Mr. Callum’s novel release date was a few days before the unofficial start of summer … and, for those of us with travel baseball players in Southern California, the biggest baseball tournament in Orange County. A.k.a., an abundance of reading time in between games for book loving parents.
Why was Mr. Callum a favorite writer, then?
His poetry. Br-eath-taking. If you’ve experienced it, you know what I mean. Hence, I knew there was a high probability I was going to love his novel writing. Boy, was I was right! I fell in LOVE with Whispers in the Alders.
It is, now, one of my top two favorite books. Uh-huh. It sure is!
I know, most readers cringe at the thought of choosing a favorite or even a few favorites. After all, with the enormity of authors and titles, it is difficult to condense all the impactful writers, characters, plots, settings, imagery, etc., etc., into one or a few favorites. I agree with that thinking; however, before falling in love with Whispers in the Alders, there was one book I always recommended when asked, “Do you have any book recommendations?” That book is The Tortilla Curtain by T.C Boyle. I won’t detail why I LOVE that book, here.
While there are numerous books I consider favorites, I don’t always recommend them to everyone. The Tortilla Curtain and now, Whispers in the Alders, are two books I always include when asked, “Do you have any recommendations?”
Why did I add Whispers in the Alders as a “top favorite”?
It’s the type of story everyone can read and see connections to narratives experienced firsthand, or vicariously through another. For instance, the setting and characters in Mr. Callum’s story are geographically and culturally different from Los Angeles and Mexico. However, I saw a connection between the immigrant working class communities in Los Angeles and small town life in Mexico as I read Whispers in the Alders.
If you’ve read Whispers in the Alders, you know Mr. Callum makes no mention of working class communities in Los Angeles or small town life in Mexico. Therefore, making that connection is an example of how much alike we all are: skin color, language, and the dishes we eat are probably the greatest barriers to seeing we are similar flavors and textures in one pot of stew. The taste and quality would be out of this world if only we all realized our humanness. The human in me sees the human in you. If we all followed that mantra, we would have more love and acceptance in our often unkind and hateful world. Whispers in the Alders will make the reader see that mantra.
“… a coming of age story…”
I often see a variation of those words in reviews of Mr. Callum’s gem. Since many of his readers are on the other side of adolescence and early adulthood, most have danced, trudged, slid, or tip toed through pre-adolescence, adolescence, and early adulthood. Regardless of gender, race, or class, the mind and body undergo similar transformations at all stages of development. We can all recall those years, right? While the main characters, Tommy and Aubrey, experienced adolescence and young adulthood in a specific decade, readers will be taken back to their decade of self discovery with the assistance of Mr. Callum’s moving, breathtaking, and beautiful usage and mastery of the English language.
I was already in love with this book, taking my sweet ‘ol time when realizing the end was approaching. It’s the type of book that makes a reader think: I don’t want it to end, when – what do you know – Mr. Callum introduces a Beatles reference. Yep. As in the FAB FOUR – John, Paul, Ringo, and George. Also known as, the BEST BAND EVER!!! I won’t tell you what reference, but you’ll see… I mean, you’ll read. But I say, “see,” because Mr. Callum transforms his written gem into a film.
As I read the novel, I kept thinking: this has to become a movie. I can totally envision film scenes and even have two Hollywood stars in mind to play Tommy and Aubrey as adults. Younger Tommy and Aubrey? Ooo…wee. I don’t know what pair could play these roles… It’s going to take two stellar young stars with enormous amounts of unique and impactful chemistry to match these literary characters’ relationship.
If you are the type of reader who: always uses bookmarks, never writes in books, and makes every effort to not fully open books to maintain the crispness and smell of fresh pages, please skip this part. I’m considerate, I don’t want to inflict any anguish, panic, or anxiety when I tell you what I do when I love a book.
What do I do?
You guessed it! I write and highlight to my heart’s content. Uh-huh. You read correctly, lovely readers and friends. Mr. Callum, I’m not sure how you are feeling at the realization that your gem has received the Karina-book-love-treatment. If you are cringing at what you just read, please know it is how I show love. If you didn’t write so beautifully, I wouldn’t have many highlights with written thoughts and accolades adorning my copy of your gem.
Books are family and friends. I try to express love to human family and friends with great frequency. Like books, I love many people, but I’m incredibly selective when choosing close relationships.
Like special family and friends, special books are given quality attention, care, and love.
I highlight favorite lines I want to revisit and ponder because, yes, they are writing inspiration, but mostly, they are nurturance for my mind and soul- a treasure box of gems. Precious gems shine, remain timeless, and exude an energy that makes it impossible for the beholder to not smile after experiencing its beauty. So, now, do you understand why I continually refer to Mr. Callum’s novel as a gem?
“ I will forever be a student of the art and craft of writing.”
– H.A. Callum
(from interview with Drew from housevalerious)
I bet you have no idea who expressed that lovely deep thought. If you’re reading this post, you’re on the shiny, bright side of life, so, yep, you guessed it- the talented and beautiful minded, Mr. H.A. Callum, ladies and gentlemen. Obviously, he’s expressed innumerable thoughts and feelings through his poetry, interviews, and of course, his gem; however, after reading that quote, I infer with great certainty Mr. Callum’s work will continually captivate.
Why do I dare make such a definitive inference?
Utilizing human and nonhuman voices, writers tell the stories of individuals, groups, societies, and themes in a continually changing world. Therefore, I translate, “I will forever be a student of the art and craft of writing,” as meaning Mr. Callum (and anyone with similar thinking) as forever desiring and accepting mental, social, and emotional growth. Flexible individuals with a hunger for knowledge will continually produce stellar work in their personal and professional roles. Because of his established literary works and my interpretation of his quote, like many of Mr. Callum’s fans, I cannot wait to experience his next creation.
There you have it, folks. A short little summary on why I felt a need to write up my first official book review, well, ever. A HUGE “thank you!” to Mr. Callum for sharing his talent and creativity through the beautiful and timeless gem, Whispers in the Alders…
I contemplated adding another section to my blog review of Whispers in the Alders; but, it gave away too much of the story, so I omitted that epic section. However, I can share a brief synopsis of it by letting you know my education and career background in psychology picked up on many social and psychological themes and concepts that would make Mr. Callum’s gem a fantastic tool for professionals working with adolescents, young adults, and in many cases, adults with backgrounds similar to the characters and town of Alder Ferry.
Don’t despair, I believe in praising beautiful minds, Mr. Callum will receive kudos for that added bonus his gem provided. Brace yourself, Mr. Callum, it will be lengthy!
If you haven’t read Mr. Callum’s gem, first, what is wrong with you?! Second, don’t worry, I’ll let you know how you can start getting lost, or found, in… the alders…
Gem Available at:
Poetry and more of Mr. Callum’s beautiful thinking and writing:
What? When? Why? How?
If, like me, you love learning about your favorite authors, take a peek at these interviews. You’ll learn more about Mr. Callum’s beautiful mind, and … he even shares bits of his personal side. If you’re already a fan, you know he’s private, so way to go D.M. Newlun, Drew (HouseValerius), Leigh Holland, Deborah Kalb, and Karen Ann Wirtz –excellent interviews!
Stop chatting and give me links to these interviews, lady!
Ok, ok… Here you go… Enjoy! One last thought, I promise. My elementary classroom and mom experience can’t help it, I’m the Fairness Queen, so I’m listing in order of when I had the pleasure of reading these insightful interviews. I think I speak for all of Mr. Callum’s #1 fans (he has many in Los Angeles) when I say, “keep them coming!”
2.Readers Want More of Mr. Callum. D.M. Newlun delivers! (on behalf of Mr. Callum’s fans, thank you so much for adding a second part (2.0) to the interview, D.M!)
That’s all folks. Take a bow, gem!
The gem takes a final bow before a standing ovation.
Stage Direction: The final bow scene is dimmed to the sound of Whispers in the Alders’ musical score.
Or… To be continued…?