The Things We Cannot Say was my first book by Kelly Rimmer and it won’t be my last. The story unfolds over dual timelines – Poland in World War II and present day Florida. It’s an emotional account of family secrets, the effects of war, and love in its many forms.
In the present day, Alice is having trouble coping with her demanding autistic son Eddie and the lack of support from her husband. Her beloved grandmother has been hospitalised and can no longer communicate verbally. But there’s something she desperately wants Alice to do for her before she dies. In the summer of 1939 in Poland, teenagers Alina and Tomasz are childhood sweethearts. The night before he leaves for college, Tomasz proposes marriage. But when their village falls to the Nazis, Alina doesn’t know if she will ever see Tomasz again. Meanwhile, in the present day, Alice must journey to Poland to uncover the story her grandmother is desperate to tell.
The Things We Cannot Say is historical fiction at its best. I’ve read many World War II stories, but can’t recall reading one set in Poland. I felt this told a story that I haven’t heard before. Like many books set during this time, it’s a story of atrocities, deprivation, suffering and the triumph of the human spirit. I can’t even begin to imagine how terrible it was for the people of the countries invaded by the Nazis and how much heartache they endured. So many families throughout the world have a painful World War II story in their past and this book highlights one of them. Though fictional, this story is based on the author’s own family history in Poland.
The storyline set in the past had me riveted. I couldn’t put this book down as the story of Alina and Tomasz slowly unfolded. While in the modern-day setting, I really felt for the character Alice and her struggles with a special needs child and how it affects her marriage. It was satisfying when the two storylines finally merged and the mystery surrounding Alina and Tomasz was resolved.
The Things We Cannot Say played on all my emotions. I was in tears by the end of it. Kelly Rimmer’s writing was effortless to read and captivating. I will definitely be reading more of her books in the future.
Verdict: A heartwrenching page-turner that I just couldn’t put down.