The Things We Cannot Say

The Things We Cannot Say

by Kelly Rimmer

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Overview

“Kelly Rimmer has outdone herself. I thought that Before I Let You Go was one of the best novels I had ever read…If you only have time to read one book this year The Things We Cannot Say should be that book. Keep tissues handy.”—Fresh Fiction

“Fans of The Nightingale and Lilac Girls will adore The Things We Cannot Say.” —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author

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. 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781488096785
Publisher: Graydon House Books
Publication date: 03/19/2019
Sold by: HARLEQUIN
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 816
File size: 3 MB

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.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Alice

I'm having a very bad day, but however bad I feel right now, I know my son is feeling worse. We're at the grocery store a few blocks away from our house in Winter Park, Florida. Eddie is on the floor, his legs flailing as he screams at the top of his lungs. He's pinching his upper arms compulsively; ugly purple and red bruises are already starting to form. Eddie is also covered in yogurt, because when all of this started twenty minutes ago, he emptied the refrigerator shelves onto the floor and there are now packages of various shapes and sizes on the tiles around him — an increasingly messy landing pad for his limbs as they thrash. The skin on his face has mottled from the exertion, and there are beads of sweat on his forehead.

Eddie's medication has made him gain a lot of weight in the last few years, and now he weighs sixty-eight pounds — that's more than half my body weight. I can't pick him up and carry him out to the car as I would have done in his early years. It didn't feel easy at the time, but back then, this kind of public breakdown was much simpler because we could just evacuate.

Today's disaster happened twenty minutes ago when Eddie reached the yogurt aisle. He has a relatively broad palate for yogurt compared to his peers at the special school he attends — Eddie will at least eat strawberry and vanilla GoGurt. There can be no substitutions on brand or container — and no point trying to refill old tubes, either, because Eddie sees right through it.

It has to be Go-Gurt. It has to be strawberry or vanilla. It has to be in the tube.

At some point recently, someone at Go-Gurt decided to improve the design of the graphics on the tubes — the logo has shifted and the colors are more vibrant. I'm sure no one at Go-Gurt realized that such a tiny change would one day lead to a seven-year-old boy smashing up a supermarket aisle in a bewildered rage.

To Eddie, Go-Gurt has the old-style label, and this new label only means that Eddie no longer recognizes Go-Gurt as food he can tolerate. He knew we were going to the store to get yogurt, then we came to the store, and Eddie looked at the long yogurt aisle, and he saw a lot of things, all of which he now identifies as "not yogurt."

I try to avoid this kind of incident, so we always have a whole shelfful of Go-Gurt in the fridge at home. If not for my grandmother's recent hospitalization, I'd have done this trip alone yesterday when Eddie was at school, before he ate the last two tubes and "we are running a little low on yogurt and soup" became "holy crap, the only thing we have left in the house that Eddie can eat is a single tin of soup and he won't eat soup for breakfast."

I don't actually know what I'm going to do about that now. All I know is that if Campbell's ever changes the label of their pumpkin soup tins, I'm going to curl up into a little ball and give up on life.

Maybe I'm more like Eddie than I know, because this one small thing today has me feeling like I might melt down too. Besides Eddie and his sister, Pascale, my grandmother Hanna is the most important person in my world. My husband, Wade, and mother, Julita, would probably take exception to that statement, but I'm frustrated with them both, so right now that's just how I feel. My grandmother, or Babcia as I've always called her, is currently in the hospital, because two days ago she was sitting at the dining table at her retirement home when she had what we now know was a minor stroke. And today, I spent the entire morning rushing — rushing around the house, rushing in the car, rushing to the yogurt aisle — all so Eddie and I could get to Babcia to spend time with her. I don't even want to acknowledge to myself that maybe I'm rushing even more than usual because I'm trying to make the most of the time we have left with her. In the background to all of this hurriedness, I'm increasingly aware that her time is running out.

Eddie has virtually no expressive language — basically he can't speak. He can hear just fine, but his receptive language skills are weak too, so to warn him that today instead of going to the train station to watch trains as we usually do on a Thursday, I had to come up with a visual symbol he'd understand. I got up at 5 a.m. I printed out some photos I took yesterday at the hospital, then trimmed them and I stuck them onto his timetable, right after the symbol for eat and the symbol for Publix and yogurt. I wrote a social script that explained that today we had to go to the hospital and we would see Babcia, but that she would be in bed and she would not be able to talk with us, and that Babcia was okay and Eddie is okay and everything is going to be okay.

I'm aware that much of the reassurance in that script is a lie. I'm not naive — Babcia is ninety-five years old, the chances of her walking out of the hospital this time are slim — she's probably not okay at all. But that's what Eddie needed to hear, so that's what I told him. I sat him down with the schedule and the script and I ran through both until Eddie opened his iPad and the communications program he uses — an Augmentative and Alternative Communication app, AAC for short. It's a simple but life-changing concept — each screen displays a series of images that represent the words Eddie can't say. By pressing on those images, Eddie is able to find a voice. This morning, he looked down at the screen for a moment, then he pressed on the Yes button, so I knew he understood what he'd read, at least to some degree.

Everything was fine until we arrived here, and the packaging had changed. In the time that's passed since, concerned staff and shoppers have come and gone.

"Can we help, ma'am?" they asked at first, and I shook my head, explained his autism diagnosis and let them go on their merry way. Then the offers of help became more insistent. "Can we carry him out to your car for you, ma'am?" So then I explained that he doesn't really like to be touched at the best of times, but if a bunch of strangers touched him, the situation would get worse. I could see from the expression on their faces that they doubted things could get any worse, but not so much that they dared risk it.

Then a woman came past with an identically dressed set of perfectly behaved, no doubt neurotypical children sitting up high in her cart. As she navigated her cart around my out-of-control son, I heard one of the children ask her what was wrong with him, and she muttered, "he just needs a good spankin', darlin'."

Sure, I thought. He just needs a spankin'. That'll teach him how to deal with sensory overload and learn to speak. Maybe if I spank him, he'll use the toilet spontaneously and I can ditch the obsessively regimented routine I use to prevent his incontinence. Such an easy solution ... Why didn't I think of spanking him seven years ago? But just as my temper started to simmer she glanced at me, and I met her gaze before she looked away. I caught a hint of pity in her eyes, and there was no mistaking the fear. The woman blushed, averted her gaze, and that leisurely journey with her children in the cart became a veritable sprint to the next aisle.

People say things like that because it makes them feel better in what is undoubtedly a very awkward situation. I don't blame her — I kind of envy her. I wish I could be that self-righteous, but seven years of parenting Edison Michaels has taught me nothing if not humility. I'm doing the best I can, it's usually not good enough and that's just the way it is.

The manager came by a few minutes ago.

"Ma'am, we have to do something. He's done hundreds of dollars' worth of damage to my stock and now the other shoppers are getting upset."

"I'm all ears," I said, and I shrugged. "What do you propose?"

"Can we call the paramedics? It's a medical crisis, right?"

"What do you think they're going to do? Sedate him?"

His eyes brightened.

"Can they do that?"

I scowled at him, and his face fell again. We sat in uncomfortable silence for a moment, then I sighed as if he'd convinced me.

"You call the paramedics, then," I said, but the knowing smile I gave him must have scared him just a bit, because he stepped away from me. "Let's just see how Eddie copes with a paramedic visit. I'm sure the blaring sirens and the uniforms and more strangers can't make things much worse." I paused, then I looked at him innocently. "Right?"

The manager walked away muttering to himself, but he must have thought twice about the paramedics because I've yet to hear sirens. Instead, there are visibly uncomfortable store assistants standing at either end of the aisle quietly explaining the situation to shoppers and offering to pick out any products they require to save them walking near my noisy, awkward son.

As for me, I'm sitting on the floor beside him now. I want to be stoic and I want to be calm, but I'm sobbing intermittently, because no matter how many times this happens, it's utterly humiliating. I've tried everything I can to defuse this situation and my every attempt has failed. This will only end when Eddie tires himself out.

Really, I should have known better than to risk bringing him into a grocery store today. I don't think he fully understands what this hospital visit means, but he knows something is off. Not for the first time, I wish he could handle a full-time school placement, instead of the two-day-a-week schedule we've had to settle for. If only I could have dropped him off at school today and come here alone, or even if I could have convinced my husband, Wade, to stay home from work with Eddie.

Wade had meetings. He always has meetings, especially when not having meetings would mean he would have to be alone with Edison.

"Excuse me."

I look up wearily, expecting to find another staff member has come to offer "assistance." Instead, it is an elderly woman — a frail woman, with kind gray eyes and a startling blue hue to her hair. Blue rinse aside, she looks a lot like my Babcia — short and skinny, but purposefully styled. This woman is carrying a flashy handbag and she's dressed from head to toe in explosive floral prints, all the way down to her fabric Mary Janes, which are patterned with gerberas. Babcia would wear those shoes too. Even now, well into her nineties, Babcia is still generally dressed in clothes featuring crazy flowers or outlandish lace. I have a feeling if the two women met, they'd be instant friends. I feel a pinch in my chest at the recognition, and impatience sweeps over me.

Hurry up, Eddie. We have to hurry. Babcia is sick and we need to get to the hospital.

The woman offers me a gentle smile and opens her handbag conspiratorially.

"Do you think something in here could help?" She withdraws from her bag a collection of little trinkets — a red balloon, a blue lollipop, a tiny wooden doll and a small wooden dreidel. The woman crouches beside me, then drops them all onto the floor.

I've already tried distraction so I know this isn't going to work, but the kindness in the woman's gaze almost brings me to tears anyway. When I look into her eyes, I see empathy and understanding — but not a hint of pity. It's a beautiful and unfortunately rare thing to have someone understand my situation instead of judging it.

I murmur false appreciation and I glance between the woman and Edison while I try to figure out if this is going to make the situation worse. He has at least turned the volume down a little, and out of his puffy, tear-filled eyes, he's watching the woman warily. He does so love Babcia. Perhaps he sees the likeness too.

I nod toward the woman, and she lifts the balloon. Eddie doesn't react. She lifts the doll, and again, his expression remains pinched. Then the lollipop, with the same result. I've completely lost hope when she picks up the dreidel, so I'm surprised when Eddie's wailing falters just a little.

Colorful Hebrew characters are etched into each side, and the woman runs her finger over one of them, then sets the dreidel onto the floor and gives an elegant flick of her wrist. As the dreidel spins, the colors hypnotically blend into a brilliant blur. "My grandson is on the spectrum too," she tells me quietly. "I have at least an inkling of how difficult your situation is. The dreidels are Braden's favorite too ..."

Eddie is staring intently at the dreidel as it spins. His wailing has stopped. All that's left behind now are soft, shuddering sobs.

"Do you know what the Hebrew means?" the woman asks me quietly. I shake my head, and she reads softly, "It's an acronym — it stands for a great miracle happened there."

I want to tell the woman that I don't believe in miracles anymore, but I'm not sure that's true, because one seems to be unfolding right before me. Eddie is now almost silent but for the occasional sniffle or echoed sob. The dreidel's spin fades until it wobbles, then it topples onto its side. I hear the sharp intake of his breath.

"Darling boy, do you know what this is?" the woman asks quietly.

"He doesn't speak," I try to explain, but Eddie chooses that exact moment to dig deep into his bag of embarrassing autism tricks as he turns his gaze to me and says hoarsely, "I love you Eddie."

The woman glances at me, and I try to explain,

"That's just ... it's called echolalia ... he can say words, but there's no meaning behind them. He's just parroting what he hears me say to him — he doesn't know what it means. It's kind his way of saying Mommy."

The woman offers me another gentle smile now and she sets the dreidel down right near Eddie, starts it spinning again and waits. He stares in silent wonder, and by the time the dreidel falls onto its side for a second time, he's completely calm. I fumble for his iPad, load the AAC, then hit the finish and the car buttons before I turn the screen toward Eddie. He sits up, drags himself to his feet and looks at me expectantly.

"That's it, sweetheart," the woman says softly. She bends and picks up the dreidel, and she passes it to Eddie as she murmurs, "What a clever boy, calming yourself down like that. Your mommy must be so proud of you."

"Thank you," I say to the woman.

She nods, and she touches my forearm briefly as she murmurs, "You're doing a good job, Momma. Don't you ever forget that."

Her words feel like platitudes at first. I lead Edison from the store, empty-handed but for the unexpected treasure from the stranger. I clip him into his special-order car seat, a necessity despite his size because he won't sit still enough for a regular seat belt. I slide into my own seat, and I glance at him in the rearview mirror. He's staring at the dreidel, calm and still, but he's a million miles away like he always is, and I'm tired. I'm always tired.

You're doing a good job, Momma. Don't you ever forget that.

I don't cry much over Eddie. I love him. I care for him. I don't ever let myself feel self-pity. I'm like an alcoholic who won't take even a drop of drink. I know once I open the floodgates to feeling sorry for myself, I'll get a taste for it, and it will destroy me.

But today my grandmother is in hospital, and the kind woman with the gerbera shoes felt like an angel visiting me in my hour of need, and what if Babcia sent her, and what if this is my grandmother's last gift to me because she's about to slip away?

It's my turn for a meltdown. Eddie plays with his dreidel, holding it right in front of his face and rotating it very slowly in the air as if he's trying to figure out how it works. I sob. I give myself eight luxurious minutes of weeping, because that brings us to 10 a.m., and we're now exactly an hour later than I hoped to be.

When the car clock ticks over the hour, I decide to stop wallowing — and then I do: just like that I turn the pity off. I wipe my nose with a Kleenex, clear my throat and start the car. As soon as I press the ignition, my phone connects to the car and on the touch screen by the steering wheel, the missed messages from my mom appear.

Where are you?

You said you'd be here by 9.00. Are you still coming?

Alice. Call me please, what's going on?

Babcia is awake, but come quickly because I don't know how long it will be until she needs another nap.

And then finally, one from Wade.

Sorry I couldn't take today off, honey. Are you mad?

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "The Things We Cannot Say"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Lantana Management Pty Ltd.
Excerpted by permission of Harlequin Enterprises Limited.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Things We Cannot Say 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Anonymous 5 months ago
I couldn’t put this book down.....the unimaginable cruelty and suffering...yet some survived and created new lives and life
Anonymous 4 months ago
I was upset at first with the few grammer typos in the beginning but after that the story is beautful and tge transition from one timeframe to another was seemless. The characters were truly believable the story just draws you in. Tears and love and the question could you be hat strong.
Anonymous 6 months ago
So believable and well written. If your a fan of WWII novels you must read. Historical but great storyline.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Truly profound, heart-wrenching, and educational
Anonymous 7 months ago
What+a+wonderful++book%21++l+was+unable+to+put+the+book+down.+Great+story
cloggiedownunder 8 months ago
“What happens when stories like theirs are lost? What happens when there’s no one left to pass your experience on to, or you just can’t bring yourself to share it?” The Things We Cannot Say is the sixth novel by best-selling Australian author, Kelly Rimmer. On a farm in southern Poland in 1940, seventeen-year-old Alina Dziak lives in hope. Her twin brothers have been sent to work camps by the Nazis. The occupying force takes all their farm produces. Her life has shrunk to the farm and her family and escaping the notice of the soldiers. But Tomasz Slaski, the man to whom she has promised her heart, Tomasz will return from Warsaw to marry her: this, she truly believes. For Florida mother Alice Michaels, life in 2019 is already busy: her husband has a stressful job in the plastics industry, her 10 year-old daughter Pascale is highly gifted and needs additional challenges to keep her satisfied, and her 7 year-old son, Edison is on the autism spectrum, requiring a disproportionate amount of her attention to keep their lives organised and prevent meltdowns. The stroke that lands her beloved 95 year-old grandmother, Hanna in hospital, rendering her non-verbal, naturally disrupts the necessarily rigid schedule of Alice’s days, and puts added pressure on her already-strained marriage. Hanna virtually raised Alice, so when she asks or, rather, insists, that Alice goes to Poland on a vague mission (vague because it is communicated via Eddie’s useful-but-by-no-means-perfect communication app), Alice finds she cannot refuse. But in Poland, despite a few clues and a highly competent guide, Alice hits brick walls. Rimmer explores several topics in this novel, in particular the stigma of an autism spectrum diagnosis and persecution by Nazis of Polish Jews during the wartime occupation. Her extensive research into these is apparent on every page, and she captures the setting with consummate ease. Alina’s narrative tells a heartfelt wartime romance that prevails through hunger and hardship, distance and time. Her long-held secrets certainly cause Alice some difficulties in 2019. While Alina and Alice, both strong but flawed women, earn respect with their narratives, Eddie, with very few words, captures hearts. Rimmer cleverly uses Eddie’s echolalia to succinctly summarise the behaviour exhibited by characters significant to him. Rimmer populates her novel with convincing characters and dialogue, but also gives the reader a great plot twist: a mystery that becomes apparent from tiny clues scattered throughout. The astute reader will pick these up, but just how it comes together will have the reader racing to the final, deeply emotional chapters. Guilt, grief, kindness and courage, cruelty, betrayal, faith, all feature in a story that will have eyes welling up and tissues reached for. A brilliant read! This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Hachette Australia and the author.
iamsugar1 7 days ago
I really didn't care for this book. I have read many WW2 stories. This should not b compared to the nightingale or the lilac girls.
Anonymous 19 days ago
This+brings+the+emotions+and+deprivations+of+the+era+to+be+felt+by+any+reader.++One+feels+that+the+era+becomes+felt+and+not+just+learned+.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Very+emotional+story.++Beautifully+written.
lesacap1262 3 months ago
The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer was, to me, an incredible story. An amazing slice of history woven into the story of a modern-day family. This book is told with alternating timelines, it begins with a wedding in a camp in 1942. We don't know who is getting married, we don't know her story. We then meet modern day mom, Alice, her special-needs son is having a meltdown in the grocery store, she needs to get to the hospital to visit her grandmother. Alina Dziak lives on her family farm in Poland. She is in love with Tomasz and they are planning to be married once she is old enough and once he returns from University. Hearing rumors about the Nazi soldiers getting closer to her village doesn't necessarily concern her, but who could imagine what was to come. We all know the stories now, how it happened, what atrocities occurred but back in the 1940's who could have imagined such things could occur. The world wasn't equipped like it is now with 24/7 news coverage. I loved the different perspective of the holocaust, told from a non-Jew, from a young Polish woman, what she saw, how she survived, and forced to see the destruction of her country. It is unfathomable to this day. What made this book so good was the weaving of the two women's stories, how she intertwined their stories, and how it was triumphant in the end. I couldn't put this one down, I needed to know how it ended. Did she get out, did her and Tomasz reunite and get their happily ever after. How did their story affect the next generations, and how did Alina's story finally get out and reach her family. Alice is asked one last favor by her grandmother, Hana. She must go to Poland, send her back pictures, and resolve what is haunting her. How can Alice leave her family and begin this quest when she doesn't even know what she is to find, what are Hana's questions? Hana can't speak after a stroke, so her request is limited to a few words, words that don't make sense. This book moved me, it speaks of horrors one still can't begin to imagine, the way it's written you feel it and see it. It also speaks of the modern-family, how we can get lost in the day-to-day, and not see the bigger picture of the world and ourselves. I was sent a complimentary copy by the publisher but was under no obligation to post a review.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Anonymous 3 months ago
not+your+typical+WW+2+story.+As+I+started+the+book+I+was+wondering++how+this+would+eventually++connect+to+WW+2.+The+human+tragedy++that+took+place+in+both+the+Polish+families+and++American++families+made+this+book+insightful+.++thanks+for+imagination.
nhr3bookcrazyNR 5 months ago
Really great story! I loved how the modern day and the WWII era were worked back and forth. And the idea of communicating when you've lost your voice. The setting of WWII Poland is also unusual. There were really some unusual aspects to this book - like Autism, the confusion of identifying people after the war, and keeping secrets - that were great. I highly recommend this book.
iggyebab 5 months ago
**I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.** This book beautifully weaves two stories together. A young mother is trying her best to manage one extremely advanced child and another who is severely autistic. Her husband is a genius who cannot understand their son and her mother is a powerful judge who cannot understand why her daughter lets herself be “dependent on a man.” Her grandmother, who has always been her anchor, is very sick and is now only able to speak her native language, Polish. When her grandmother asks her to travel to Poland to find Tomaszc, she is confused. Her grandfather was named Tomaszc and he passed two years ago. In a pique, she decides to go. This book is heartbreaking and quietly beautiful. WWII stories are never easy reads. This one has such an incredible story. How many people walked away from WWII as another person and never looked back? This author was able to balance this dual story beautifully. You are able to easily follow both and watch as they impact one another. I loved how the grandmothers story shifted the current story. I loved the multiple love stories and how they highlight the different kinds of love.
CynB 5 months ago
Among my top favorite novels of 2019, The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer, is breathtakingly beautiful, painful, and yet, a tribute to love, honor and the human spirit. Rimmer’s story centers primarily on two generations of the same family. Alina’s story is set during the German’s occupation of Poland during WWII, and its impact on the Polish Christian population… it is a point of view that I’ve never encountered before, despite reading a great deal of historical fiction. The second storyline focuses on Alina’s granddaughter, married with two children, one of whom is challenged by being on the autism spectrum. Alina, close to death, sends her granddaughter on a quest that will change many lives forever. Rimmer is a gifted writer who has created characters that are believable, authentic and memorable. Her descriptions of locale are so realistic that I can still close my eyes and picture the home and hill beyond. She seamlessly moves from one era to the other in what is a complicated plot, and then brings the story to a satisfying conclusion. I have already recommended this book to two of my closest friends! Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin-Graydon Books for the opportunity to read an electronic ARC in exchange for an honest review. It was a true pleasure.
Anonymous 5 months ago
I received an ARC of this book from netgalley.com. This book has gutted me. I read a lot of historical fiction, but the devastation in this book has torn a new hole in my heart. This book shows what love can be between lovers and between family members. The POV goes between a modern mom with a 7 year old on the autism spectrum and her grandmother as a young woman in Poland. One of the best reads of 2019 for sure.
Anonymous 6 months ago
This was an absolutely amazing read.
BringMyBooks 6 months ago
Y'all. This book. I had been looking forward to it for months & thought I was prepared but honestly, nothing could have prepared me for how unflinchingly real and honest and GOOD this book was. A must have addition to your shelves if you're a fan of WWII Historical Fiction! Alina was such a well drawn out character, and I couldn't get enough of her story. Even though she frustrated me so much at times, looking at it objectively (and with 20/20 hindsight), I think she is probably one of the more real portrayals of a girl growing up in that time. Alina is 15 when the Nazi invasion of Poland begins, and watching her come of age during this time - rebelling against her parents for their reluctance to share information about the atrocities surrounding her, learning how to endure indignity after indignity, and going from a naive farm girl to a determined (if not reluctant) member of the Polish resistance - was so moving. I loved her relationship with Tomasz, and watching their love story unfold and develop during wartime was full of heartbreak and hope and will remain with me for some time after finishing. And on a complete different scope, I thought the story of Alice navigating motherhood with her daughter's prodigious IQ and her son's autism was so beautifully done. I am grateful to the author for the glimpse into the joys and challenges of raising a child on the autism spectrum, and I appreciated what I was able to learn through this aspect of the story. Alice's relationship with her husband - the complexities, the frustration, the heartache, and the love; the enduring love - was done so well. I don't normally enjoy the present day storyline in dual timelines half as much as the past, but in this case I was just as anxious to get back to Alice's story as I was to get back to Alina. Thank you to Kelly Rimmer for this amazing book, and to Harlequin Books and Graydon House for the opportunity to read a digital version before publication date. This in no way affected my review of The Things We Cannot Say.
LlamaJen 6 months ago
Absolutely LOVED this book!!! Loved the characters, story and writing style- everything about it. There were tears. (Thank goodness I was in bed reading and not at work during lunch.) The story was incredibly sad, but I still loved it. Every time I read books about WWII, I can't imagine what people went through and how they were able to survive such horrible situations. It's heart wrenching. I loved how the book alternated between Alice in present time and Alina during the 1940s in Poland during the Nazi occupation. I wished Hanna would have been able to share her story with her family and let them know everything that happened to her in Poland. This book was full of love and the lengths that family would go to protect their loved ones. (Alina's parents, Tomasz, and Saul just to name a few.) There were definitely some twists to the story, especially when Alice is in Poland trying to find out her family history. I loved Alina's story and how it was revealed. All the characters seemed very realistic and believable. I definitely recommend the book, especially if you are a fan of WWII historical fiction. I look forward to reading more books by the author. This book was beautifully written and I can't stop thinking about it. I received a complimentary copy of this book from HARLEQUIN - Graydon House Books (U.S. & Canada) through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Anonymous 7 months ago
JulieMT 7 months ago
“The Things We Cannot Say” was an absolutely beautiful book. The book masterfully weaves together the story of Alina, Tomasz, and their families during the Nazi Occupation of Poland with Alice, Alina’s great-granddaughter, her family, and their lives in current times. I must say I was initially hesitant to read it, fearing it would be overly depressing in its depiction of the tragedy of World War II. And while the book, to its credit, does not gloss over the horrors of World War II, the story and its characters were infused with a strength and goodness that kept it far from depressing. It was instead filled with hope, tenderness, and determination. You will finish the book astounded at the dignity and courage of those fighting for survival and meaning in the darkest times. You will also be left with the realization that dark times, whatever form they take, do not necessarily destroy the goodness of those struggling through them but rather that goodness and grace may be what ends up shining the brightest on the other side of those dark times. That realization is a gift from the author and one of the many reasons this book is a treasure not to be missed. I was privileged to receive an advance copy of this book from NetGalley and the Publisher, Greydon House in exchange for an honest review.
Dianne57 7 months ago
I'm not sure just exactly how I feel about this book. I could have loved it, but I felt that there were issues with it that just didn't go over well with me. For me, this was a depressing read that was also fascinating. I hope you can understand what I'm trying to say. This was a very deep book dealing with two heart-breaking issues. A modern woman faced with a deeply autistic child and a semi-dysfunctional family and a woman who lived through the worst that war could give. Unfortunately what made this book difficult for me to LOVE was that both of these women in their own ways were spoiled, selfish and naive. The author also did a lot of inner-dialoguing and for me, that is just a turn-off. The only reason why I kept reading was to see how the mystery was going to come out and if it weren't for that I may have not finished this book. I'm aware that most people love this book, unfortunately, I won't be putting this book on my "comfort books" shelf. However, I will be recommending this book; most especially to book clubs.
Anonymous 7 months ago
what+a+great+story
ThePedestrianEquestrian 8 months ago
I was immediately drawn to everything about this book, from the haunting cover to the gripping description, and I knew I had to read this book. Where to even begin with The Things We Cannot Say? Alternating between America today and Poland during the German occupation, The Things We Cannot Say breaks your heart over and over. It takes you to the highest highs of love and the lowest lows of loss, and the second you think things can't get any worse, they do. Oh they do. Alice is a stay at home mother who faces a daily balancing act of managing a home, while trying to keep her brilliantly gifted daughter, Pascale (Callie), entertained and busy, and challenging son Edison (Eddie), diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum and is non-verbal, from having meltdowns over things as seemingly simple as yogurt packaging and lumpy soup. Her rigid daily routine is shaken when her Babcia is hospitalized after a minor stroke though, and is left unable to communicate. For once, Eddie's disabilities are a blessing. Using his Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) app on his iPad, Babcia is able to communicate with Alice and Alice's mother, Julita, albeit in the most rudimentary of ways. As Alice tries to understand the request Babcia has made of her, we are introduced to Alina Dziak, a Polish teenager growing up in the midst of the German occupation of Poland. A naive young girl, Alina believes that the war will not reach her small town of Trzenbinia. She believes her boyfriend, Tomasz Slaski will board a train, attend medical school, and return to her. She believes everything will be just fine. Shortly thereafter, it's not just her love Alina is saying goodbye to, and the harsh reality of the war hits her. As her brothers are shipped to a work camp, her love's father is executed in the town square by Nazi soldiers, and a rancid scent hangs in the air over her family's farm, she watches the smoke curl in the sky from Auschwitz, firmly believing, as her mother told her, that it's just a large furnace heating the shower water. Young Alina is forced to grow up quickly as the war rages on around her town. When Babcia doesn't seem to improve after her stroke, Alice can't let her grandmother's bizarre and confusing request go unanswered. And so she finds herself boarding a plane bound for Poland, anxiously leaving her family in the hands of her, in her opinion, less than capable husband. Alice doesn't know what her Babcia is trying so desperately to tell them, but she's determined to find out. The woman who stepped in when her own mother was far too busy for her growing up deserves nothing less. Plus, experiencing the culture of your family firsthand is never a bad thing. The Things We Cannot Say isn't like your typical historical fiction. Many of the the ones I've read follow the tragedy of prisoners inside places like Auschwitz and Birkenau, or discuss the terror of running for your life. This book touches on both of those, but also covers the heartbreak of waiting, of not knowing, of being on the outside, of escape. This is a highly neglected niche, and Kelly Rimmer did an astounding job of keeping the reader guessing what Babcia's secret might be, of whether Alice will discover it, and of keeping me flipping the pages, devouring the book as quickly as I could. The Things We Cannot Say is a book I will highly recommend to friends and family. My heart was in my throat for Alina and Tomasz, for their love and hope for the future. The Things We Can
TheBookBag 8 months ago
I seem to be reading a lot of historical fiction lately, in particular stories set in the World War 2 era. And I have been loving them all. This time period is so interesting to me. The Things We Cannot Say takes the reader on an emotional and heartbreaking, but beautiful, story that demonstrates the strength and stamina of the people who lived and loved in those times. I found myself wrapped up in the lives of Alina and Tomasz, feeling their love, their pain at separation, and their dedication to one another, over a whole lifetime. I loved this story so much and it is one I will not soon forget―a beautiful love story on so many levels, that slowly unfolds as the characters come to realize who and what is important to them. The author truly weaves an amazing story of love and sacrifice.