After the essential Englishness of Elizabeth George's Lynley I found it quite a shock to encounter the somewhat sleazy background of an American High School, where drugs are part of everyday life and all the children atre kids. This is just to express one of the two problems I had with this book. The other is that I had to believe that Becca, the chief character, can actually "hear" people's thoughts. Having got over these problems I found an enthralling story.
Hannah Armstrong, a 14year old living in California with her mother and a series of "stepfathers" overhears enough of the thoughts of the latest of these to realise that he is involved in murder, and what is worse, he knows that she knows. Her mother realises that Hannah is in danger and whisks her away. Hannah becomes Becca King, and a headlong journey north begins, at the end of which Becca is left to go, with her bike, on the ferry across Puget Sound in Washington State to Whidbey Island,(a real place, where Elizabeth George now lives) to stay with Carol, a childhood friend. On the ferry Hannah falls foul of Jenn who was trying to cheat at the cash desk. She also sees a tall slim attractive black boy, Derric, who is the central character in the story.
After this everything goes wrong. Carol has just died, so Becca heads for the town. Exhausted by unaccustomed cycling up and down steep hills she is rescued by Diana Kinsale, and spends the night with Diana's dogs.
Strangely she can hear no whispers from Diana. Next day she meets Seth, a strange boy who helps her throughout, and eventually finds sanctuary at the Cliff motel run by Debbie Grieder. She goes to the local High School and finds Jenn and Derric there. All the time she wears her AUD box, an electronic device to block out whispers.
This somewhat wordy preamble leads to the main action of the book. The location is Saratoga woods. Did Derric fall or was he pushed? Will he live? Why does Becca get such warm comforting whispers from him? When the sheriff shows up to investigate Derric's accident will he recognise Becca from "missing" posters? Who is Hayley? Is wise old Granpa Ralph too good to be true? All will be revealed, and the revelation is a satisfactory conclusion.