Title: Things We Didn’t Say
Author: Kristina Riggle
Release Date: June 28, 2011
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Casey can’t handle being a part of the Turner family anymore. She has tried as hard as she can to fit in, and she does love Michael, but she is tired of letting him and his kids walk all over her. Michael’s unstable ex-wife, Mallory, only makes things more complicated, as she hates the fact that Michael has found someone new. But when Dylan, Casey’s stepson, goes missing, it brings this dysfunctional family into close quarters and old hurts and resentments emerge as they try to find Dylan.
I’m a big fan of Kristina Riggle’s previous novels (Real Life and Liars and The Life You’ve Imagined), so I was eager to pick up her latest book Things We Didn’t Say. I was pleasantly surprised at how well that title sums up the book’s contents – it’s all about what happens when you hold things in, when you keep secrets, when you don’t trust those around you.
The novel is told through different points of view, and through this structure, the reader really gets a sense of each of these characters. Though in some books this technique can turn out to be a jumbled mess, Riggle does an exceptional job differentiating each of the people in her novel. Through the varied narration, the reader also really comes to embrace each of these characters and see all of their flaws. Even a character as awful and manipulative as Mallory seems tragic rather than evil once the reader gets inside her head. The character development in Things We Didn’t Say is accomplished very effectively.
The main character and primary narrator of the novel is Casey, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t have issues with her. I was continually frustrated at how much of a doormat she was, how she never stood up for herself. But then, I also wanted to yell at Michael for how much he let Mallory control him. It’s a mark of well written characters that they provoked an emotional response from me, but I had trouble with this book because, though I felt sorry for Casey, I didn’t really like her, nor did I like any of the other characters in this book.
Things We Didn’t Say is a thought provoking novel, and also a great look at a post-divorce blended family. The emotion is authentic, as are the characters and their motivations. This was a quick read and would be a great book club pick, as readers will likely have strong reactions to the characters which they will want to discuss.