The Things We Cannot Say: A Novel

by Kelly Rimmer

Paperback, 2019

Status

Available

Genres

Publication

Graydon House (2019), Edition: Original, 432 pages

Description

Now a New York Times bestseller! From the author of Truths I Never Told You and Before I Let You Go, Kelly Rimmer's powerful WWII novel follows a woman's urgent search for answers to a family mystery that uncovers truths about herself that she never expected. "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.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member teachlz
Linda's Book Obsession Reviews "The Things We Cannot Say" by Kelly Rimmer, Graydon House Books, March 19, 2019

Kelly Rimmer, Author of "The Things We Cannot Say" has written an intriguing, intense, captivating, riveting, enthralling and multi-layered novel. The Genres for this story are Historical Fiction and Fiction. This story is narrated by two characters in two different time-lines, that seem to merge with many questions and dark secrets. The author describes her colorful cast of characters as complicated and complex.

Alina is involved in Poland, when the Nazis come to power. It is around 1942. . She and her childhood friend Tomasz are now engaged, and everything seems to be changing. Tomasz wants to be a Physician and plans to go to school. As the Nazis take over the Polish village, things become dangerous and deadly. They are betrayals, and great fear. Life seems like it will never be the same.

In the present time, Alice is stressed with marital and family problems, and is visiting her Grandmother in the hospital who has had a stroke. The only way that the Grandmother is able to communicate is through an iPad program, that her autistic son uses, and keeps begging Alice to go to Poland. There are a list of people's names that Alice finds when looking through her grandmother's things. Alice doesn't know who they are.

In this well written novel, I appreciate that the author discusses the importance of family, friends, kindness, love and hope, communication, forgiveness and truth. I highly recommend this novel of Historical Fiction for those readers who appreciate the genre. I received an ARC for my honest review.
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LibraryThing member SimplyKelina
Have you ever picked up a book not really sure if it was going to be something you would love, but then ended up loving it?! That is exactly what happened for me while reading The Things We Cannot Say. I am going to try to sum up my feelings around this story, but all I can really say is that it was beautiful; beautiful writing and beautiful story.

This story follows two different voices, but they are connected. I do not want to give away too much. Kelly Rimmer does an excellent job looking into Autism and the social stigmas/misunderstandings around it. It tells an important story around understanding what others may be facing and not to judge or assume you know what a child needs (a child just needs discipline). I teared up within the first chapter and that is not where the tears ended.

This also follows WWII in 1942. I have read several other books in this time frame, but Kelly Rimmer did an amazing job bringing the emotions to the scenes with the Nazis. Everything happening was so heartbreaking and I found myself tearing up at almost every chapter. Characters will survive, face heartbreak, and characters will die. The author was not afraid to take the story to the scary realism of the times back then.

There were a few points where I did feel like the story was dragging on and a little repetitive. However; this did not take away from the story or the emotions I was feeling the more I read.

I could go on and on around this story, but the main takeaway is go read it! Even if you do not love historical fiction, go read this (it has modern times as well). Overall, I loved this and I need more from Kelly Rimmer!

I was sent a copy of this book from the publisher; however this did not influence my review.
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LibraryThing member JanaRose1
From a young age, Alina knew she was destined to marry her best friend, Tomasz. When Tomasz is away at school, the Nazi's invade Poland, taking hold of her small town. When word comes that the Nazi's have taken Warsaw, Alina is terrified for Tomasz. In the present day, Alice is called to her dying grandmother's bedside. From bed, grandmother uses an program for Alice's' autistic son to ask Alina to go to Poland. Despite her troubled marriage and special needs child, Alice travels to Poland, determined to find whatever it is her grandmother is looking for.

The book alternates between the present and the past. There was absolutely nothing in the description of the book about the alternating point of view. I found that to be extremely off-putting. I also felt that the present time-line was unnecessary. It added little to the story. Overall, a bust.
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LibraryThing member .l.p
Captivating, powerful and an unforgettable read, The Things We Cannot Say evoked a range of emotions - which I love in a great novel. At times it was heartbreaking, yet it was also a celebration of love, courage and resilience and despite being set in a terrible period in history, it still left me filled with hope. Long after finishing, I am still moved by how amazing The Things We Cannot Say was and it has made it’s way into my list of favourite reads.

From the very beginning The Things We Cannot Say had me intrigued - part historical fiction, part romance and part mystery, the novel tells the story of Alina, a young, naive and sheltered Polish girl who is betrothed to her sweetheart Tomasz. As the war breaks out, we bear witness to how the lives of Alina and her loved ones and her small town are shattered and their will to survive through the horrors of Nazi occupation in Poland. In alternate chapters, we live though Alice’s daily struggles in present-day USA, as she strives to keep her head above-water in coping with raising her children, including a son on the autism spectrum and dealing with the strains in her marriage. Devastatingly, Alice’s grandma Babcia takes a turn for the worst and she implores Alice to help her find peace with the life she left behind in Poland many decades ago. The use of the dual timelines was a wonderful mechanism, allowing the reader to get an intimate insight into both intriguing female characters and I loved seeing how the stories of Alina and Alice unfolded and ultimately how they converge.

The Things We Cannot Say is a love story and a coming-of-age story, it also highlights the far-reaching devastation caused by Hitler’s reign and the plight of the Polish people during WWII - young, old, Jewish, Non-Jewish, men and women. Alina and Tomasz’s romance and hope for the future filled my heart and was inspirational. Across the dual timelines, the novel explores the themes of love, family, hardships, sacrifice, survival. Kelly Rimmer did a wonderful job of expertly weaving the narrative so that you could easily empathise with all of the characters, making them all so relatable with their hopes, dreams, fears and struggles. I couldn’t fault any of the characters, they were varied, complex, credible and compelling and they encouraged reflection and instilled empathy. The pacing of the novel was superb and the story-telling so beautiful, I was totally immersed in the novel, devouring every word till the very end.

The Things We Cannot Say took me by surprise, so poignant and moving it surpassed all my expectations. It is my first Kelly Rimmer novel and I feel compelled to seek out more of her stories
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LibraryThing member susan0316
I love historical fiction especially novels about WWII. There have been so many of them the last few years that it would be easy to keep reading the same story over and over but once again an author has totally put a different spin on the story and it read like a story of a time period that I knew very little about. The book was well written and very well researched with characters that I really cared about and that I cried with during the book.

This is a dual time line novel. Time line 1 is present day with Alice as the narrator. Alice lives with her husband, daughter and special needs son. For the last several years she has concentrated her whole life on the needs of her son - often to the exclusion of her daughter and husband. Her beloved grandmother is dying and requests that Alice go to Poland to find someone from her past. After refusing to talk about her years during WWII for so long, Alice is convinced she she must make a trip to Poland for her grandmother. The second timeline is in the late 1930s and early 1940s in Poland and is Alina's story. Alina is in love with Tomasz and had been since they were children. Soon after he goes to Warsaw to college, the Nazis invade Poland and start to take away privileges not only from the Jewish people but from everyone - they take all of the food that the farmers grow and leave the people to starve. As Alina tries to live under the new regime, she wonders if life will ever get back to normal and she will ever see Tomasz again.

This emotional novel is about loyalty and honor but most importantly it's a novel about love.

Thanks to Edelweiss for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.
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LibraryThing member wagner.sarah35
A touching inter-generational story of war and loss. At the outbreak of WWII, Alina is a spoiled daughter of Polish farmers looking forward to marrying her doctor-in-training boyfriend. The Nazi invasion and occupation disrupts her plans and danger increases when through her boyfriend she becomes involved in a network helping Jews hide and escape Poland. Covert operations and secrets, as well as the passage of time, make for a daunting task when Alina's granddaughter takes the challenge of uncovering exactly what happened decades later. This novel is touching and I especially appreciated the realistic portrayal of contemporary family life, but it's hard to distinguish it from the other historical novels tackling pretty much the same subject.… (more)
LibraryThing member Cats57
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.

*ARC supplied by the publisher.
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LibraryThing member .l.p
Captivating, powerful and an unforgettable read, The Things We Cannot Say evoked a range of emotions - which I love in a great novel. At times it was heartbreaking, yet it was also a celebration of love, courage and resilience and despite being set in a terrible period in history, it still left me filled with hope. Long after finishing, I am still moved by how amazing The Things We Cannot Say was and it has made it’s way into my list of favourite reads.

From the very beginning The Things We Cannot Say had me intrigued - part historical fiction, part romance and part mystery, the novel tells the story of Alina, a young, naive and sheltered Polish girl who is betrothed to her sweetheart Tomasz. As the war breaks out, we bear witness to how the lives of Alina and her loved ones and her small town are shattered and their will to survive through the horrors of Nazi occupation in Poland. In alternate chapters, we live though Alice’s daily struggles in present-day USA, as she strives to keep her head above-water in coping with raising her children, including a son on the autism spectrum and dealing with the strains in her marriage. Devastatingly, Alice’s grandma Babcia takes a turn for the worst and she implores Alice to help her find peace with the life she left behind in Poland many decades ago. The use of the dual timelines was a wonderful mechanism, allowing the reader to get an intimate insight into both intriguing female characters and I loved seeing how the stories of Alina and Alice unfolded and ultimately how they converge.

The Things We Cannot Say is a love story and a coming-of-age story, it also highlights the far-reaching devastation caused by Hitler’s reign and the plight of the Polish people during WWII - young, old, Jewish, Non-Jewish, men and women. Alina and Tomasz’s romance and hope for the future filled my heart and was inspirational. Across the dual timelines, the novel explores the themes of love, family, hardships, sacrifice, survival. Kelly Rimmer did a wonderful job of expertly weaving the narrative so that you could easily empathise with all of the characters, making them all so relatable with their hopes, dreams, fears and struggles. I couldn’t fault any of the characters, they were varied, complex, credible and compelling and they encouraged reflection and instilled empathy. The pacing of the novel was superb and the story-telling so beautiful, I was totally immersed in the novel, devouring every word till the very end.

The Things We Cannot Say took me by surprise, so poignant and moving it surpassed all my expectations. It is my first Kelly Rimmer novel and I feel compelled to seek out more of her stories.
… (more)
LibraryThing member tinkerbellkk
I quite enjoyed this book. The past character was a young woman living in Poland during WW2 and her romance with a resistance fighter. The present day character was a woman with challenges of her own in her family life who ultimately goes on a quest for her dying grandmother. The characters were interesting and the story of past and present were well intertwined. I though the author creatively tied everything together and wrote a heart warming story of family secrets and lifelong bonds. Recommended.… (more)
LibraryThing member amillion
Wow. Some of the best books I've read lately have been about WWII. While it's not a topic I necessarily seek out, good books pull us in. This one is exceptional. The characters are well developed, the scenes are written with atmosphere and emotion, and the story is engrossing. A MUST read.
LibraryThing member nyiper
This is a beautifully written and lovely but heart wrenching story, sadly, full of many historical but horrible facts. The author's ability to write so believably about dealing with a child on the "autism spectrum" in contrast to her efforts to work to help her grandmother at last disclose her lifelong secrets. Going back and forth between Alice, the granddaughter, and Aline, the grandmother as a young woman, was a wonderful way to work toward the discovery of a huge family secret.… (more)
LibraryThing member HeatherLINC
I was recently in a class with Year 9 girls who were sharing their favourite novels with each other. Many I had already read, but then one student started talking about The Things We Cannot Say. I was moved by her clear articulation and passion for this book as she described why it was so important to her. Before she had finished, I knew I had to read it! My goodness, I am so glad I did. What an incredibly moving, heartbreaking and inspirational read it turned out to be.

Told in dual timelines both narratives were fascinating and I was fully engaged with them both. Alina and Alice were unique, strong women who loved with all their hearts. Alina's story was harrowing and was filled with tragedy, courage, sacrifice, loss and abiding love. I admired her so much and her growth throughout the novel was exceptional. Alice's story was nearly as intriguing as she uncovered her grandmother's story and discovered things about herself she never knew existed. I loved how the author wove the two stories together. Although it has been done many times before, Rimmer did it effortlessly, capturing the human emotion perfectly to create a beautiful story that moved me to tears on more than one occasion.

I must say, I loved all the characters in The Things We Cannot Say and the relationships between them were deep, moving and powerful. The importance of family was beautifully explored in this novel showing that, despite being complex, messy and frustrating at times, members of a family are held tightly together by bonds of love passed down from generation to generation. This was a wonderful story that I highly recommend.
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LibraryThing member hes7
In the present, Alice must navigate the complications of family life involving an autistic son, a gifted daughter, and a husband more focused on work than family. When her beloved, in-poor-health grandmother requests that she travel to Poland, she has difficult decisions to make.

In the past, Alina’s chief concern is the time spent apart from her fiancé Tomasz. Until the Nazis quickly change that. The injustice of war alters how Alina sees her future, and survival brings with it a number of challenges.

As these two storylines intertwine in The Things We Cannot Say, Kelly Rimmer delivers a story full of courage, strength, loyalty, honor, and love. With mystery, romance, and family dynamics, it’s a captivating and emotional novel, and I enjoyed it immensely. To readers of historical fiction, I recommend it.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours, I received a complimentary copy of The Things We Cannot Say and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.
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LibraryThing member kbranfield
Weaving back and forth in time, The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer is a heartrending novel about the Nazi occupation in Poland.

In the present, Alice Michaels is heartbroken her beloved grandmother, Hanna, has suffered a stroke. Alice is already stretched to the limit caring for her and her husband Wade's special needs seven year old son Eddie, and their highly intelligent ten year old daughter Pascale "Callie". When Hanna indicates she wants her to find her husband, Tomasz, Alice and her mother, Julita, are confused because he has passed away. Due to Hanna's tearful insistence and her anger at Wade, Alice makes an impulsive decision to go to Poland to try to figure out what her grandmother wants her to find. Despite her concern that Wade is not at all prepared for caring for Eddie, she sets off on an uncertain journey in hopes of finding the answer that will bring her ninety-five year old grandmother peace.

When she and Wade married, Alice never intended to be a stay at home mother. But after doctors confirmed that Eddie is on the autism spectrum, she dedicated herself to giving their son the best possible life. He is non-verbal and thrives on routine. Wade works long hours so most of the household and childcare duties fall to Alice who is growing resentful of his lack of involvement. Their marriage is a minefield of bitterness and anger as they avoid discussing their issues.

During the Nazi occupation of Poland, Alina Dziak and her family labor in harsh conditions on their family farm. They are forced to hand over the food they grow in exchange for rations that barely keep them alive. Alina is also very worried about her fiancé, Tomasz, who is away at college in Warsaw when Germany invades Poland. Not knowing whether he is dead or alive, Alina lives in hope he will return to her. Adding to her and her family's worries, the Nazis have built a labor camp where Poland's Jews are forced to live and work under untenable circumstance. They are also worried about who they ca trust since alliances among their friends and neighbors are harshly divided.

Despite her worries about Wade caring for their children, Alice tries to focus on her mission to figure out what her grandmother wants her to find. Aided by a Polish tour guide and a list of names and places from Hanna, they first journey to the small town where Hanna lived during the war. Alice is confused by the conflicting information she finds and she is frustrated by a local woman's refusal to help her. With Hanna's condition worsening, will Alice find what she needs to comfort her grandmother?

The Things We Cannot Say is a very poignant and highly emotional novel that offers a heartbreaking glimpse of life in Poland during the Nazi occupation. Equally enlightening is the story arc with Alice's domestic life and her inability to voice her frustrations. Both Aline and Alice discover their inner strength as they are forced to handle difficult situations. Kelly Rimmer's outstanding research brings the horrors of Nazi occupied Poland vividly to life. Despite the difficult subject matter, I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend this absolutely riveting novel.
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LibraryThing member Beth.Clarke
A remarkable WW2 novel with two distinct storylines. Alina is a catholic being raised in Poland in the 1940s when the Nazis invade her town. She and her fiancé are desperate to help others while finding their own freedom. Alice's story takes place in modern times where she is raising a child that is on the autism spectrum and helping her grandmother find peace. The two stories collide perfectly and reveal mysteries and surprises along the way. The plot is engaging, but I found myself disappointed with the writing. The author uses the word incredulous 22 times.… (more)

Language

Original language

English

Physical description

8.92 inches

ISBN

1525823566 / 9781525823565

Other editions

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