The Things We Cannot Say Hardcover – 19 Mar 2019
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"In The Things We Cannot Say, Kelly Rimmer deftly weaves together the narratives of Alina, a young woman struggling to survive the Second World War in Poland and Alice, a mother and wife juggling the intergenerational complexities of modern family. Their stories converge when Alice undertakes a journey to uncover the secrets of her dying grandmother's past. Fans of The Nightingale and Lilac Girls will adore The Things We Cannot Say, a poetic and unforgettable tale of the past that is always with us, the truth that sets us free and the long journey home." - Pam Jenoff, NYT Bestselling Author of The Orphan's Tale"Kelly Rimmer has raised the already high bar with this unforgettable novel, The Things We Cannot Say. It is that rare author that takes the reader so deeply into a world that you smell the smells, feel the hunger, see the devastation. Alina and Tomasz's story is one of bravery, resilience, and the lengths we will go to for the ones we love. If this book isn't a giant bestseller, I will eat my hat. Fans of Jodi Picoult and Kristin Hannah now have a new go-to author." -Sally Hepworth, NYT Bestselling Author of The Secrets of Midwives"[The Things We Cannot Say] is such an emotional and powerful read that I found it almost impossible to put down. I was riveted, and will be recommending this book to everyone I know." -Sally Hepworth bestselling author of THE SHAPE OF US"Kelly Rimmer skillfully takes us deep inside a world where love must make choices that logic cannot. Ripped from the headlines and from the heart, Before I Let You Go is an unforgettable novel that will amaze and startle you with its impact and insight." -Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author of The Bookshop at Water's End"Get ready for fireworks in your book club when you read Before I Let You Go! One of the best books for discussion that I've read in years." -Diane Chamberlain, New York Times bestselling author of The Stolen Marriage"Kelly Rimmer's shimmering and poignant new novel, Before I Let You Go broadens our current national conversation about seeking to combat the deadly yet curable disease of addiction while being ultimately a story of relationships."--Library Journal, Editor's Pick"Rimmer's timely novel captures the unbreakable bond of two sisters and humanizes the difficult intersection of the opioid epidemic and the justice system."-Publishers Weekly"A deeply emotional and thought-provoking read. It was impossible to not be moved by this beautifully written book." -Vanessa Carnevale, author of The Florentine Bridge"Another incredible, gripping read from an exceptionally talented author. This book takes you through myriad emotions, whilst opening your eyes to some very important issues for women. I read this in one sitting... So will you. A magnificent read I can't praise or recommend highly enough." -Heather Hill, author of The New Mrs D"Heartbreaking, soul-searching but ultimately uplifting, this thought-provoking book challenges the judgements society makes and weaves a heartwarming story around the bonds we forge as sister, mother and partner." -Zara Stoneley, author of The Holiday Swap
About the Author
Kelly Rimmer is the worldwide and USA TODAY bestselling author of five novels, including Me Without You and The Secret Daughter. She lives in rural Australia with her husband, two children and fantastically naughty dogs Sully and Basil. Her novels have been translated into more than twenty languages.
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Kelly Rimmer has written an astonishing book that certainly packs a punch and leaves you an emotional wreck upon completion. It's difficult to read through the final few pages as you will have a lump in your throat. Yes this book is set during World War Two and fans of the genre will have read countless books based in or around that turbulent and horrific time but it's the way the author gets right inside the hearts and minds of her characters and portrays the depths of their feelings which impact on the many important decisions they have to make that set this book apart from all the rest. It is a stunning read which without doubt will leave a lasting impression on you.
Moving between occupied Poland during the early years of the war and modern day Florida, the author weaves an incredible story of desperation, trauma, atonement, penance, love, loss and dedication. The title of the book couldn't be more apt considering several of the main characters in the present day cannot communicate and it's the things that have been left unsaid, the things hidden that cause a ripple affect to be set in motion. Alice is set upon a reluctant journey to seek answers, to find closure but in doing so she opens a whole new door to a life she never knew existed but also the cracks in her own family are exposed. The question is can the past be reconciled with the present? Has the damage already done to her own family unit through lack of communication, understanding and acceptance gone so far that it cannot be spoken about in an attempt to fix it?
Alice's beloved grandmother Babcia is 95 and having suffered a stroke she is left unable to communicate. This life altering event is the catalyst that sets in motion a train of events, recollections and life experiences that will alter many people's perceptions of the world in which they live in and the people they surround themselves with. Their attitudes will perhaps change and they may all realise the true depth and power of four little words - love. Or maybe things will get too challenging and difficult for acceptance to come forth?
The story moves between Alina in Poland during World War Two and Alice in the present as she struggles to cope with the effects of her grandmothers stroke. Life is not easy for Alice anyway and as Babcia was the one person who she feels so close to and the person who more or less raised her as her own mother was very much pre occupied with her job as a judge she feels lost and afraid as to what the future holds.
Alice is a woman under constant pressure and the further I read through the book I felt quite a lot of it was of her own making. She didn't reach out and ask for the help and support she needed in caring for her son Eddie who was on the autism spectrum. I felt the lack of communication and the ability to work as a pair and ask questions between herself and husband Wade was the reason she had become so confined in her life. Her daughter Callie was a child genius, way ahead of her age in terms of academic work, but I felt as Alice concentrated so much on Eddie and all his strict routines that Callie got neglected. Don't get me wrong I very much admired Alice for the way she always tried her best for Eddie. The communication app on his Ipad was an incredible tool which proved pivotal to the plot as it benefited Babcia too and without this the things already left unsaid would have forever remained so. As Alice battles with her conscience and family obligations she accepts a challenge from Babcia. Babcia pleads with her to do the right thing, to return to Poland to seek the answers to so many burning questions. I desperately hoped that Alice would do what Babcia was asking of her as I felt it would be the making of Alice and also it would quash the restless spirit and heart of an old woman who had witnessed so much but someone who had made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of love.
Alina was only seven years old when she decided that one day she would marry Tomasz. Even from such a young age she loved him deeply and knew that he was the man she was destined to spend the rest of her life with. He had a way of speaking that made anything seem possible and she believed he could help her dreams come true. As they enjoy their childhood and time spent together, the years pass by but as we reach 1938/39 hatred and propaganda are growing within Germany. Evil is spreading its roots and expanding its grip ever further. The people of Poland realise invasion is inevitable and the fear and apprehension seeps from the pages. Alina is only 17 and lives with her parents and brothers working on a farm outside the small town of Trzebina. They eke out an existence as best they can but life is tough but the love Alina has for Tomasz only grows and strengthens and gives her comfort and peace. As the Nazi's invade and life is forever changed Alina's world is torn apart. Her family and friends witness unspeakable horrors ad their existence is threatened.
Life under the Nazi regime was tough and full of horrors and endless hardship but they struggle on in an attempt to weather the storm which they find themselves at the centre of. Death and separation play strong roles and leave the reader in fear for what the eventual outcome may be. But what shines through is the love and devotion that Alina and Tomasz have for each other. Any innocence that lingered in the personality of Alina is quickly shattered as she has to face some harsh realities and brutal truths. In some ways she very much didn't know what was going on in terms of the bigger picture and I felt she wanted to remain within that stance.
But circumstances force change upon her life and it is how she handles these changes is what make her a remarkable character. A character whom you witness undergo so much change and for the better as I felt she gained strength, courage and power when the wool was finally pulled from her eyes. She had no choice but to grow up but it is the devotion, respect and love that she has for Tomasz that will go a long way in being the driving force in her life and the same can also be said for him. Their relationship felt real and genuine and that they were made for each other. But when they are faced with a painful decision it's the results of this that form the backbone of what was a breathtaking story. To say any more would detract and spoil the read for people but suffice to say it's what ensues that makes for a riveting read that has you on the edge of your seat the further the story develops and the pace and tension are ramped up.
Usually I find one strand of a dual time line story stronger, more well developed and far more interesting than another. But here both strands were brilliantly written and leave you rapidly turning the pages keen to discover more. The author slowly peels back the layers piece by piece to unveil an incredible overall picture. She shows how communication is so vital and important and that the decisions and promises we make will impact us forever.
Grief, love, loyalty and the incredible power of sacrifice also play such pivotal roles within both the modern day storyline and the past.This was a fascinating, emotional and brilliant story inspired by the author's family history with a deeply satisfying ending tying both threads of the story together very well. Kelly Rimmer should be proud of herself for the superb writing, well developed plot, the twists and turns and the feelings and emotions it inspires within the reader. The Things We Cannot Say is a book that should not be left lingering on a bookshelf waiting to be read one day. It's a story that needs to be read as soon as possible in order to appreciate the talents and story telling ability of Kelly Rimmer.
I’m a big Kelly Rimmer fan, I have loved every book of hers that I have read and have been really impressed with her storytelling and ability to suck the reader into the emotional part of the story.
The Things We Cannot Say is partly set in the now in America, and partly set in Poland during the Second World War. I wasn’t really sure how that would work but thankfully I loved it, I’m not a big reader of historical fiction but it worked so well and I loved both parts of the book and how they came together.
Alice is the main character in the present. Life isn’t easy for Alice and she carries a lot of responsibility, believing that she alone can care for her son who has autism spectrum disorder which means that he is basically non-verbal and prone to meltdowns when his favourite food isn’t available. Alice is frustrated with her husband Wade, who goes off to work and has little to do with his son. Alice has a close relationship with her Grandmother so when she is taken sick Alice finds her carefully balanced life falling apart.
At the same time, we hear about Alina and her life in Poland that changes drastically when the war starts. I loved Alina and her love for her fiance Tomasz. She lives in a small town near Auschwitz on her family farm, a lot of people know about how the Jewish people were treated during the war, but I think that less known is the story of other Polish citizens and what they went through. It was at times upsetting, but it was a story that I am pleased that I got to learn more about it.
One thing that really struck me when reading about Alina and her family was how pure and total a parents love is for their children. There were a few examples of this in the book and they had a big impact on me.
Gradually the reader found out how Alina and Alice were linked, and that an important part of the puzzle that we thought that we knew was actually a different shaped piece to the one that we thought. It was brilliantly done and brought it all together perfectly.
This book often felt so real and so I wasn’t surprised to see that the author had a Polish Grandmother and that she had been on a similar trip to the one that Alice made in the book. There are also some photos at the back of the authors trip which I loved seeing.
Kelly Rimmer really is an amazing author with true talent. If you haven’t read her books then you are missing out. And I am going to keep telling people about Rimmer and her books and hope that soon she will be a very well known author, getting the recognition that she deserves.