Book Quibbles: “Under the Whispering Door” – Review

“It’s never enough, is it? Time. We always think we have so much of it, but when it really counts, we don’t have enough at all.”

I haven’t read many books this year…it’s just been one of those times…but I was pretty excited to see a new book out by TJ Klune. The House in the Cerulean Sea is one of my favorite books (you can read my review for it here) and my sister actually surprised me with this copy.

What Will You Do With The Time You Have Left?

under the whispering door tj klune cover

When Wallace Price dies, he refuses to believe it and is taken to a tea shop run by a man named Hugo. Hugo helps those who died to pass over with the help of a reaper named, Mei. Wallace isn’t ready to move on and as he spends more time with Hugo, Mei, and other souls at the tea shop, he realizes how much he missed out on life and what a crappy person he was, all the while falling for Hugo despite knowing they can never be together.

“By turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, this absorbing tale of grief and hope is told with TJ Klune’s signature warmth, humor, and extraordinary empathy.”

The Whispering Door

Was this the best thing to read as I’m going through a point in my life of wanting to just quit my job and figure the rest out later? As I’m realizing how much time I wasted at a job that drains the life out of me?

That’s a big theme of this book: living your life while you can. It wasn’t until Wallace died that he could see how much he missed by working too much and treating those around him horribly. Hugo’s calm, patient demeanor is a stark contrast to how Wallace starts this book and he gets him thinking about life. From the start, Hugo sees good in Wallace and when that good comes out, Hugo falls for Wallace even more.

But it’s not just about romantic love but love amongst friends and family. One of the souls staying in the tea shop is Hugo’s grandfather, Nelson, along with his dog, Apollo. Each character felt real with their own stories and personalities. Nelson has one of the biggest impacts on Wallace, helping him navigate after dying. He was one of my favorite characters and a scene with him and Apollo made me cry the most.

I also had no idea how this book would end. I had some ideas but wasn’t sure where it would go which made it hard to put the book down the closer to the end I got.

“Bravery meant the possibility of death. And wasn’t that funny? Because it took being dead for Wallace to finally be brave.”


under the whispering door hugo and wallace art

A slight quibble of mine is that some of the lines are repetitive. There are times it seems like Hugo is repeating himself and explaining the same things over to Wallace, even in the end. Hugo doesn’t know what’s on the other side of the door the souls go into when they’re ready to move on, but he likes helping people and it seemed like he had to explain those things a few times to Wallace.

However, Under the Whispering Door is one of my favorite reads in a while. It talks about grief and what people would do if they had more time. That death is just another beginning. I’m also happy it doesn’t get religious. Of course, it gets brought up but those theories are put to rest throughout the book. As someone who isn’t religious, their idea of an afterlife is pretty similar to mine; that you’re reunited with your loved ones and everything is good.

And the animals are there too.

It made me laugh and cry and want to quit my job (still pretty close to doing that.) The characters are likable, even Wallace who needs time to develop. It makes you ask questions. It puts a different take on the afterlife and how we get from one place to the other. Rooting for Wallace and Hugo is so bittersweet but the ending is satisfying.

On a side note: This is actually my 400th blog post. Thank you to those who keep up with my blog and take the time to read my posts (even when they get a bit long.) I’m hoping to post whenever I can more often since work is a bit less stressful right now, but I am looking for a new job.


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