Friday, March 15, 2019

Book Review and Giveaway: The Things We Cannot Say

By Jami Deise

Kelly Rimmer’s novel about two sisters dealing with opioid addiction, Before I Let You Go, was one of my favorite books of 2018 (see my review). I was surprised to hear that she followed up that contemporary sociological portrait with an historical fiction offering, but I was so impressed with her writing, I had to take a look. It was not a wasted read by any means. Even though the two books are so different that it’s almost a surprise they were written by the same author, they are both extraordinary novels.

If you loved Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, Rimmer’s The Things We Cannot Say is a must-read. It begins in the Soviet Union in 1942, as the narrator marries Tomasz Slaski in a refugee camp – hardly the wedding she’d imagined to her childhood sweetheart. In present-day Florida, Alice deals with a meltdown from her son Eddie, who is on the autism spectrum and non-verbal. The meltdown makes her late in visiting her grandmother Hanna, who’s had a stroke that has left her non-verbal as well. In fact, the only way Alice’s “Babcia” can communicate is with Eddie’s Augmentative and Alternative Communication app. Frantic and seemingly aware that her time is short, Babcia is suddenly desperate for Alice to go to her native Poland and research people Alice has never heard of. Her grandfather, Tomasz, is on that list, which is confusing… Tomasz died of dementia a year ago. Why is he on the list?

I’ve read many historical novels that alternate between a World War past and a modern present, and I’ve almost always found myself bored with the less-than-life-threatening dilemmas of the modern-day protagonist. That was not the case in Rimmer’s novel, as Alice’s devotion to Eddie and the enormity of his needs are an overwhelming, heartbreaking challenge for the sympathetic mom. In the past, Alina is a teenage girl in newly occupied Poland, pining for her love Tomasz who has gone off to college, and avoiding work around her family’s small farm. When the Nazis come, her life is turned upside down in an instant.

Both of these first-person narrators are so well-drawn, readers will feel a pang of regret each time the narration changes. And the mysteries begin right away: Is Alina Alice’s grandmother, even though Alice’s Babcia is named Hanna? If so, how do Alina and Tomasz find their way back to each other? We already have Alice’s assurance that her grandfather Tomasz died only a year ago, so what is the mystery there?

The Things We Cannot Say kept me up all night reading, and then it broke my heart twice over. It also served as a prescient reminder, in the form of a line from Tomasz, reminding his wife that they must always remain vigilant, because the Holocaust also began with little slights and annoyances.

Kudos to Kelly Rimmer. I look forward to reading everything else she ever writes.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the book in exchange for an honest review. They have one copy to give away!

Visit the other stops on the blog tour.

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

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Giveaway ends March 20th at midnight EST.


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16 comments:

Janine said...

Sometimes my husband comes home from work in such a bad mood and hollers or grumbles all night. I don't really know what I want to say to him, but I would love to be able to let him know that his attitude ruins my day and I am afraid to be around him when he's like that. Last night was one of those nights.

Carla S. said...

I want to say "I miss you" to someone, but can't.

Bonnie K. said...

I'm with Janine. I often want to say to my husband that his words or actions does affect me greatly. I will say something sometimes, but he doesn't handle criticism well. With society telling men to not be emotional or talk about their feelings, the bottled-up emotions does burst at times.

techeditor said...

I'd like to tell my sister that her hair looks terrible, but I can't.

taurus said...

I'd like to tell my niece that her behavior is unacceptable.

Elena L. said...

I usually say everything, so nothing to hide lol

Kelly Rodriguez said...

I’m with Janine too! I want to tell my husband that he can leave his shitty attitude at the door, but I generally know that’s not a good idea! ��

Dianne Casey said...

There are times I want to tell someone close to me that they've really hurt my feelings, but I don't want to hurt their feelings.

Nancy said...

Recently, we have seen so many men and teenage boys wearing their hats inside restaurants as they eat. I'd like to say to them: Where are your manners? Males are not supposed to wear their hats indoors!





Nancy
allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

Anonymous said...

BrendaS said....I would like to tell a certain co-worker to stop trying to talk to me on coffee breaks when I'm obviously reading

Angie said...

How their thoughtlessness hurt me.

Mary Preston said...

I'd like to tell some co-workers what I really think of them.

Kelley B said...

I want to say let my voice be heard without judgment. I'm not responsible for the choices others make.

bn100 said...

how rude someone is

Sara Strand said...

There's a whole list of things I'd really like to say to some people but I definitely can't and that's why I'm in therapy. ;)

I'm not a huge fan of historical fiction but the ones I do like are all set in this era so I'm going to add this one to my reading list because I think this one will really hold me. Thanks for being on this tour!

Sara @ TLC Book Tours

Jean Craven said...

people that tell you word for word to say when I tell them something they think. I can't speak & act like I too stupid & need to be told what to say to others.