"Like a drug addict, I needed that next fix to live through the next day. And like all alcoholics, I needed that next drink to numb the pain of being alive."

A first-person autobiographical novel, this is the life story of a man who was raised on one of the farms that form a patchwork throughout America's Midwest. Shy and underweight, he develops a habit of losing himself in literature while a young man to escape the drudgery and demands of endless farm chores. What is telling is his description of meeting a young girl named Denise, whom he forms a crush on. Yet she is a loner who hangs out on a tree limb overhanging a graveyard and warns him that he will be unable to escape the "whispers."

It becomes apparent who or what the "whispers" are as the story progresses. Intermittent bouts of drinking accompany the protagonist's shock upon entering high school as a farm boy. He earns a scholarship to college but again parties and drinks himself into failure. This sets the pattern for the rest of his life, with a continuous cycle of success followed by defeat in both relationships and employment. Heart-wrenching tragedy often results. It is during especially dark and stressful times that the taunting "whispers" speak to our narrator.

In an easy flowing language that is full of self-knowledge and introspection, the writer describes the subjective experience of always needing to overachieve and then unwittingly destroying his achievements with alcohol. It is not until late in his life that an objective voice of a girlfriend recognizes his suicidal ideation and has him rushed to a psych ward. Eventually diagnosed as suffering from major depression, anxiety disorder, and agoraphobia, Anderson candidly describes his struggle with mental illness and eventual resolve to write this book. The author has penned a moving story about one man's will to survive.

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