Book Review: What I Didn't Say by Keary Taylor

Getting drunk homecoming night your senior year is never a good idea, but Jake Hayes never expected it all to end with a car crash and a t-post embedded in his throat.

His biggest regret about it all? What he never said to Samantha Shay. He's been in love with her for years and never had the guts to tell her. Now it's too late. Because after that night, Jake will never be able to talk again.

When Jake returns to his small island home, population 5,000, he'll have to learn how to deal with being mute. He also finds that his family isn't limited to his six brothers and sisters, that sometimes an entire island is watching out for you. And when he gets the chance to spend more time with Samantha, she'll help him learn that not being able to talk isn’t the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Maybe, if she'll let him, Jake will finally tell her what he didn't say before, even if he can't actually say it.

Release Date: April 30, 2012
Age Group: YA
Source: NetGalley

What a great read!  It's rare that I like a book with a male narrator as much as I liked What I Didn't Say.  There were so many things I loved about this book.  Starting with the premise: can you imagine going from being a healthy teen to someone who will never speak again?  That is what happens to Jake.  He and his friends are in a drunk-driving accident (they were the ones driving drunk) and all of them are injured; however, Jake's injuries are the most severe and life-changing.  Jake will be mute for the rest of his life, and he has to come to terms with that.

Jake comes from a large family, and they were so supportive of him and each other.  It was great to read about a family with positive, open, and truly kind relationships in a YA book.  So often, the families are dysfunctional, often with absentee parents, so it was nice to have Jake's home life be so healthy, especially in light of the emotional upheaval he sustains after the accident.

Jake has had a crush on Samantha for years but never had the nerve to tell her how he felt.  Now he literally can't tell her how he feels, and he is so frustrated by that.  He and Sam start spending time together, at first because Sam is his tutor in ASL (American Sign Language) at school, and then because they start to become friends.  I loved the sweet buildup to their relationship.  They were so tender together, so tentative.  Watching Jake and Sam fall in love reminded me of watching a baby deer stand up and walk for the first time: faltering steps at first, then more sure-footed.  I loved that Sam had a mind of her own and stood up to Jake when he needed a reality check.

Jake cycles through the five stages of grief after his accident, and it was great to read about him growing and changing in a healthy way.  He teeters on the edge of despair a few times, but always had someone there to pull him back from the ledge, whether it be Sam or a member of his family.

My favorite thing about What I Didn't Say was the writing style.  The emotions just jumped off the page and into my heart.  Taylor writes her emotions so tenderly, and I was moved to tears at several points during the book.  There were some special touches in Jake and Sam's relationship, like their dinner date and the notebook pages that made the book stand out from others in the genre.  The slightly open ending was appropriate, but I would have loved an epilogue.  I love getting a glimpse of my favorite characters living out their HEA's in the future.

I would highly recommend What I Didn't Say.  It has a unique premise, and is excellently written.  I was so happy that it was a stand-alone novel, and that I got a solid conclusion to the story.  I will definitely read Keary Taylor again!


No comments:

Post a Comment

Word verification stinks--- but spammers are worse. Thank you for your patience!