~ The Blurb ~
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.
~ My Thoughts ~
When I first picked up What I Didn’t Say I expected to be in for an incredibly emotionally intense read that would leave me reeling. The sheer shock value of the accident alone was enough to grab my attention and ensure that I couldn’t think about anything but this book! And while I found myself flying through the pages, it wasn’t quite the tearjerker that I thought it would be. I thought that reading about Jake’s accident would be nothing short of devastating and depressing, and while there certainly were extremely difficult moments, the author chose to focus on the ways that Jake’s life had changed in positive ways due to his accident. What I Didn’t Say is the kind of book that leaves you quietly reflecting on what is important in your own life and that was a refreshing and welcome change.
Jake’s entire life changed as the result of a stupid decision to get into a car that his drunk friend was driving. In an instant he went from jock, would be pilot, and free-spirited teen to someone who had to figure out how to get through life without being able to speak ever again. There was the potential for him to settle into a very dark place and allow the repercussions of his accident to completely consume him, and for a time he appeared to be going down that track, but a developing friendship with the girl he had secretly loved forever, and been too afraid to tell, was the one thing that was able to pull him back from the ledge of depression and learn that there was more to life than speaking. Sam’s character was full of surprises and I think it was because of her struggles that she was able to help Jake to gain perspective on his accident.
In the initial chapters I found the constant jumping around in time to be a little distracting and left me feeling less connected with the characters than I would have liked. It seemed a little strange that for the first third of so of the book we were flipping between past and present and then all of a sudden it stopped and we were strictly dealing with the present. I found that I was able to connect better with the book and the characters once I was no longer being thrown around in time. I just wanted to settle in and read about Jake and Sam’s journey and when I was finally able to do that I found myself enjoying the story and characters much more.
I wasn’t able to connect with Sam and Jake’s characters as much as I would have liked, or thought that I would have when I started reading What I Didn’t Say. At times I found Sam’s situation to be a little far-fetched and I think that is what made me keep her at arm’s length. The reveal about her family just came so quickly and Jake and his family were so fast to step in and forgive her deception and come to the rescue. It just seemed like such a simple conclusion to a complicated problem and there was virtually no lash back from anyone that Sam had been lying to. I also think that Jake’s character acclimated to his new lifestyle with very little visible struggle. Sure he was sullen and felt a little sorry for himself, but I find it hard to believe that a teenage boy would be so quickly willing to accept the complete loss of his voice and alteration of his life plans so suddenly.
What I Didn’t Say had the potential to be one of those books that left me completely broken and speechless. It was definitely a book that was entertaining and fast paced, but a simplistic approach to the main characters problems and the tendency to neatly wrap up their resolutions left me feeling a little distant and unconcerned about the characters.
I received an eARC of What I Didn’t Say via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.