In her novel Things We Didn’t Say, the acclaimed author of Real Life & Liars and The Life You’ve Imagined (an Indie Next Notable Book) explores the messiness of life’s love stories, especially those involving teenage almost-stepchildren, a unreliable ex-wife, and the words no parent ever wants to hear: “Your child is missing.” A poignant, honest, and unforgettable novel that fans of Katrina Kittle and Elin Hildebrand will take into their hearts, Things We Didn’t Say is exactly the sort of well-written, complex relationships story that women love to read, discuss, and share with their friends.
My Thoughts: As our story begins, we meet Casey, who is engaged to and living with Michael, the father of three children. Two of them are teens: Angel and Dylan, and Jewel, the youngest, is sweet enough to make up for the issues with the other two.
Except that Casey has just about had it. Angel is sullen, lashes out, and because she recently read Casey’s journal, she is taunting her.
Just as Casey has packed a bag and is preparing to leave, a phone call from the school reporting that Dylan is missing changes her direction. For a while, anyway.
As the family goes through the drama of figuring out what has happened to Dylan, we are thrust into the melodrama of Mallory, the ex-wife, who hates Casey and has no qualms about expressing those feelings. She and Angel almost seem like twins in their behavior, with matching verbal taunts.
What will happen to each of them in the hours that Dylan is missing? Will the crisis give them an opportunity to reexamine what they thought to be true? Can they learn something important for their lives going forward? Will Casey decide to finally share the secrets of her past?
Michael also struggles with his job as a journalist, and is overwhelmed by his father’s disappointment in his career choice. A heart specialist, Dr. Henry Turner has no problem sharing his opinions. Will something happening at the newspaper take the choice out of Michael’s hands?
Narrated alternately by each of the characters, Things We Didn’t Say shows us in great detail what chaos can ensue when individuals do not say what is really on their minds. Instead, these characters gunny-sacked their issues and showed everyone their rage, their jealousy, and their fear in emotional outbursts, or, in the case of Casey and Michael, through passive-aggressiveness. An extreme incident forced them all to take another look at their behavior.
I enjoyed how the story unfolded, and I always love this writer’s style and how she tackles the issues. I disliked Mallory, Angel, and even Michael some of the time; I felt empathy for Casey, and I rooted for her. Dylan showed a surprising strength at the end, at which point I had started to feel some hope for them all. 4.5 stars.