October 24, 2019
The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer
Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Poland, WW11, Love Story, Family Life
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
From the age of nine, Alina has been in love with her best friend Tomasz. At fifteen and engaged to Tomasz, Alina and her neighbors discount the rumors of Nazi soldiers at the Polish border, and she spends her time dreaming of her wedding. Tomasz is in college in Warsaw when the Nazis occupy Poland. While Alina and Tomasz briefly lose touch, Alina and her family’s efforts are focused on survival. In the present-day timeline, Alina is in a convalescent home in the U. S. recovering from a stroke and convincing her granddaughter that she must make a trip to Poland in her place and visit certain sites. The granddaughter, Alice, is leading a stressful life with two special needs children and an unsatisfactory marriage, but she feels compelled to honor her grandmother’s request. In dual timelines, Alice visits her grandmother, makes plans to visit Poland, and actually makes the trip, while the WW11 timeline involving Alina and Tomasz progresses. Readers find out what eventually happens to Alina and Tomasz as Alice meets the Polish family and unravels Alina’s most closely guarded secrets.
Amazon Rating: 4.8 Stars
Lots to Love: Even though the histfic aspect of The Things We Cannot Say is interesting, the love story is compelling and heartbreaking, the grandmother/granddaughter relationship is heartfelt, and the theme of reconciliation is memorable.
Themes: In addition to reconciliation, other important themes include secrets, determination, found family, risk-taking, survival, making difficult choices, caring for children with differing abilities, and sacrifice.
Emotional: Without being manipulative, the story’s end brought me to tears. I think it was the theme of sacrifice that touched me the most. Closely followed by the trajectory of the Alina/Tomasz love story. It was one of the more emotional stories I’ve read this year.
Discussion for Book Club: I would like to be in a book club with readers who could give first-hand feedback about the passages that deal with nonverbal autism. I did learn some things even though it felt a little like an info dump. Next, I’d like to explore my conflicting feelings about the prologue and how it relates to the end of the story. I can’t say more about this because of spoilers, but it’s definitely something I’d like to discuss at book club (or in comments when you read the story)! Last, the narrative offers pointed feminist advice….I’m not sure women still need these reminders in 2019. Or do we? These discussion topics fall into the category of personal preference and do not affect my recommendation, but they did affect my star rating.
Content warning: the usual WW11 hardships (no concentration camp)
Recommended: If you’re looking for a compelling and emotional read and memorable characters, this title is for you! I recommend The Things We Cannot Say for fans of well-written histfic, for readers who love complicated family stories, for those who appreciate touching themes and page-turning stories, and for book clubs. Thanks, Linda (you know who you are!) for the rec! I know you loved it! It was emotional and heartfelt for sure, and I appreciated the read!
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
The Things We Cannot Say Information (#affiliatelink)
This is my Review of the Month for the review collection on LovelyAudiobooks.info
Meet the Author, Kelly Rimmer
Kelly Rimmer is the USA Today best selling author of contemporary and historical fiction novels including Me Without You, The Secret Daughter, and her most recent release, The Things We Cannot Say. She is also the author of the contemporary romance series, Start Up in the City. Kelly lives in rural Australia with her family.
For further information about Kelly’s books, and to subscribe to her mailing list, visit http://www.kellyrimmer.com.
Is The Things We Cannot Say on your TBR or have you read it?
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Sounds like a wonderful book, Carol, and your review was great! I’m a little weary of WWII novels, but I may have to add this one to my TBR.
WW11 serves as the setting and catalyst for an intriguing family story and love story ….a few bombs fall and food is scarce and there is an attempt to smugg out photos which is as close to the war as it gets.
Oops!!! This sent as I was editing!
I am so glad you loved this one as well!
I feel conflicted over the prologue and the ending of the story. Did it bother you? I felt a bit tricked or deceived.
Hmmm…it has been awhile since I read it. I do not remember feeling that way.
You should DM me on twitter and refresh my memory.
Lovely review Carol! I actually had to stop reading this one because of the WW2 setting I just found it too upsetting. I did however like what I read of the modern day setting and loved the grandmother/granddaughter relationship.
Oh that’s good to know Nicki….maybe I should include a stronger content warning?
It had a lovely ending!!!
Glad it had a good ending.
I have a hit and miss history with historical fiction, either love it or it’s boring. This sounds good, but maybe too romantic for my taste. Thanks for the review!
There certainly is a wide variety within that genre! One of my fav histfic reads is Invention of Wings…have you read it?
AHHHHHHH!! I ABDOLUTELY ADORE when GRANDPARENTS/GRANDCHILDREN relationships are explored in a story! And this being a WW novel makes the promise all the more stronger and emotional!
Your review has DEFINITELY persuaded me to add this one to my tbr! ❤️❤️😍😍 LOVED IT, as always, Carol! 😍😍💕💕😘😘🥰
It’s a memorable story! Enjoy! 👍😍
I don’t mind complicated family stories, but only if they aren’t TOO complicated!
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Great review- I LOVED this book, it was so heart-breaking and beautifully written!
Thanks! It’s a memorable story about a time I knew very little about! I’m happy you enjoyed it too! Thank you for reading my review and commenting!
💖😊 I agree-it was very memorable and unique in perspective! You’re welcome- it is a wonderful review !
Thank you so much! 😍👍
What a lovely review, Carol. I love the granddaughter/grandmother story arc. I definitely need to get this on my TBR&R in the new year.
I think you’ll love it! Thank you so much for commenting Gina! 👍😍
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I’m kind of confused. Did Alice and her mom ever find out that Tomasz was Alice’s mom’s real father? I feel like they didn’t elaborate.
I think they came to that understanding but I can’t remember now how it played out exactly…I’d need to get the book from the library and reread the ending! It was all so emotional!
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I chose this book for our book club in Tucson. I connected with the characters and really cared about them. The Holocaust history has Poland being very cooperative with the Nazis. This gave those tropes some balance and encouraged me to find out more about the Polish resistance. We are discussing this book in February. I hope my fellow clubbers find it as engaging as I do.
I’m happy you enjoyed it! I think there’s still a lot to learn about the resistance movement! I hope you have a fabulous book club discussion Erica! Thanks for commenting!
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