Sunday, September 2, 2012
Actions Speak Louder Than Words: What I Didn't Say
Create Space, 2012
**Copy supplied by NetGalley**
Jake is a bit of a golden boy. He's on the football team. He has awesome friends. His dream of joining the Air Force is less than a school year away from coming true. But then he gets drunk at a party after winning the homecoming football game. He gets into a car accident. He gets a t-post through his throat and his vocal chords are destroyed. He'll never speak again.
With his world now turned upside down and his dreams for the future gone, perhaps his biggest regret is what he didn't say - he never told Samantha, the girl he's had a crush on since their first day of high school, that he loves her, and now he'll never be able to.
As Jake learns how to keep living his life now mute, he learns what family really means. He also finds himself spending a lot more time with Sam, realizing that even though he lost his voice, compared to some of the burdens she's had to bear, he's still very fortunate. And maybe, just maybe, he'll finally be able to tell her what he couldn't before.
Taylor takes on a few things here that I really found interesting. I've never read a novel before in which the main character was involuntarily mute, and this story does a really great job capturing what that sudden shift would be like to voicelessness. I also applaud Taylor's ability to tell the story from the point of view of a teenage boy and it still be realistic. Sometimes I find when the author is one gender but the protagonist is another, the voice can feel slightly off, but that was never the case hear. Readers get well formed characters in a richly described small town in a corner of the US that we rarely hear of or see.
Without giving spoilers, though, it's hard for me to express the things that didn't quite sit right with me in this story. In my eyes, it was a case of just a little too much tragedy. Things go from bad to worse to even more awful still for Jake and Sam. I can absolutely see and understand why Taylor took the story in the direction she did to emphasize that while Jake has lost his voice, he's still incredibly fortunate and that things could be a lot worse, but sometimes while reading I just couldn't suspend my imagination enough to accept that all these bad things could happen at once. It was as if someone had found Pandora's box and dumped it out on Jake and Sam's heads.
What I Didn't Say is well written and looks at issues that many of us may ordinarily over look. It gives insight to the idea that losing your voice doesn't mean everything is lost. If you like contemporary fiction and "issue novels," this may be one you want to check out from your local library.
Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading.
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