Release date: March 19, 2019
Publisher: Graydon House
Genre: Historical Fiction
In 1942, Europe remains in the relentless grip of war. Just beyond the tents of the Russian refugee camp she calls home, a young woman speaks her wedding vows. It’s a decision that will alter her destiny…and it’s a lie that will remain buried until the next century.
Since she was nine years old, Alina Dziak knew she would marry her best friend, Tomasz. Now fifteen and engaged, Alina is unconcerned by reports of Nazi soldiers at the Polish border, believing her neighbors that they pose no real threat, and dreams instead of the day Tomasz returns from college in Warsaw so they can be married. But little by little, injustice by brutal injustice, the Nazi occupation takes hold, and Alina’s tiny rural village, its families, are divided by fear and hate. Then, as the fabric of their lives is slowly picked apart, Tomasz disappears. Where Alina used to measure time between visits from her beloved, now she measures the spaces between hope and despair, waiting for word from Tomasz and avoiding the attentions of the soldiers who patrol her parents’ farm. But for now, even deafening silence is preferable to grief.
Slipping between Nazi-occupied Poland and the frenetic pace of modern life, Kelly Rimmer creates an emotional and finely wrought narrative that weaves together two women’s stories into a tapestry of perseverance, loyalty, love and honor. The Things We Cannot Say is an unshakable reminder of the devastation when truth is silenced…and how it can take a lifetime to find our voice before we learn to trust it.
Within one chapter this beautiful book had me weepy. ONE chapter. I have to start with that because I want to explain to you guys just how deeply this book affected me. Because that first chapter was not the only time I was moved to tears while reading, it happened more times than I could count and touched a place deep inside me that I don’t often share with the world. That piece inside of me belongs to my own son, Jackson. He’s the baby of our family of five and the only boy. He’s fiercely loved by his sisters, they’re his protectors and biggest champions. This kid can light up a room when he grins and when he laughs? It’s a magical sound. He’s pure and innocent and one of my biggest blessings, who knew that a little four year old guy could teach me some of the greatest life lessons on the planet?! He also has autism just like Alice’s son, Eddie so to say that this was relatable for me is a giant understatement.
This flips back and forth between Alina in 1940’s Poland and Alice in present day America and switches seamlessly between the two timelines. Alina’s story definitely pulls at your heartstrings, the horrors of WW2 will never cease to shock me and Rimmer shared a poignant journey with so much humility, respect and grace. As much as I absolutely adored her character and her amazing story, my heart belongs to Alice and sweet Eddie. From the authors note at the end of the book it doesn’t seem like Rimmer has firsthand experience with ASD but man, I would’ve thought she had a child with autism herself because she nailed life as a special needs parent to a tee. Alice’s daily struggles are my struggles, her feelings of guilt, doubt and insecurity are the exact same feelings that overwhelm me on a daily basis and this beautiful, messy, realistic character made me feel seen. I had no idea how much I needed to be seen until I read this, but it meant SO much to me. I can’t even really put it into words, but I’m so grateful.
I could talk about this one for hours, I seriously have so much to say, but I’ll spare you all and just finish by saying that if there’s only one book out of the hundreds that I’ve recommended that you chose to read, please make it this one. It’s not only a beautiful story of love, history and family, it sheds some light on a topic that is dear to my heart in the most honest and raw way. ASD is not an easy thing for most of us to comprehend (myself included) but this little gem of a book made it that much more relatable. Plus, the author is incredibly talented and the way she weaves the past and present together was brilliant.
The Things We Cannot Say in three words: Powerful, Remarkable and Unforgettable
Overall rating: 5/5 (ALL THE STARS)
Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.