All the Things We Didn't Say

Tragedy came as it so often does: a teenage party, emotions running high, followed by a horrific car crash. A girl is left dead and a boy is forced to leave his home town, with a secret that he will carry with him forever... Years later, when Summer's mother disappears one summer, she is left with her father who is going slowly crazy.
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Description

All the Things We Didn't Say

By Sara Shepard

ISBN13: 9780007304486

RRP $26.99

Synopsis

Tragedy came as it so often does: a teenage party, emotions running high, followed by a horrific car crash.  A girl is left dead and a boy is forced to leave his home town, with a secret that he will carry with him forever...

Years later, when Summer's mother disappears one summer, she is left with her father who is going slowly crazy.  Obsessed with an accident from years ago, he slowly descends into mental illness.  And as he becomes more disorientated, he reveals small fragments of a secret that has been hidden since his youth, a secret that changes everything.

Summer supports her father as much as she can but eventually realises that she has to escape.  She finds refuge with her great-aunt, Stella.  Feisty, fun-loving, and dying of cancer, Stella holds parts of the family secret.  Slowly, things fall into place for Summer - or at least so she thinks...

This is a story of the importance of family, of the damage a lie can do, and of how nothing is ever what it seems.

About the Author

Sara Shepard graduated from NYU and has an MFA from Brooklyn College.  She currently lives in Tucson, Arizona.  Sara's Pretty Little Liars novels were inspired by her upbringing in Philadelphia's Main Line.  All the Things We Didn't Say is her first novel for adults.

Review

Don't be fooled by it's sparkly, uplifting, chick-flick cover, All the Things We Didn't Say is a rather sombre look at relationships, mental illness, and the way in which childhood experiences affect adolescence which in turn shapes us throughout adulthood.

Whilst the story itself is emotionally powerful, the lack of personal growth exhibited by the main character is at times irritating.  Whilst several other - potentially more interesting - characters are left under-developed.

The book spans ten years and requires multiple large shifts in time (and location) which leaves the reader confused for several pages until the author has provided an explanation of the missing years in-between.  Thus making it difficult to become and remain absorbed in the story.

Unfortunately, the family secret itself is rather predicatable and what seems like a promising story, is somewhat lack-lustre.  Having said that, All the Things We Didn't Say will appeal to those who are fascinated by the human psyche and enjoy reading about dysfunctional families.

 

Reviewed by: Franciska

 

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