My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I can’t even express how much I loved this book. I had seen the cover around and had heard good things here and there but I was caught off guard by how special the story turned out to be. It was completely unexpected.
The Things We Cannot Say is told in two parts, past and present. The present portion is the story of a young woman named Alice and her babcia (Polish for grandmother). This reference was particularly special for me because I’m Polish and I called my great grandmother Babcia. When Alice’s babcia suffers a debilitating stroke, she tries to communicate secrets of her past before her life comes to an end but is unable to put her thoughts into words. Alice finds herself on a journey of discovering family secrets in an attempt to decipher her babcia’s thoughts. The portion of the story told in the past is about a young girl named Alina who is trapped in Nazi-occupied Poland trying to survive along with her young love Tomasz. But their lives will take a turn they never imagined as was the case of many of those who lived through the horrors of WWII.
This book gave me all the same feels as Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale which is quite a compliment given that The Nightingale is my favorite book of all time. I also felt like the family drama (particularly in the present timeline) was reminiscent of Chanel Cleeton’s Next Year in Havana. With those powerhouse authors and books as comparison, I would consider this book quite impactful.
Kelly Rimmer has a way of creating connection between reader and character. I adored Alina and Tomasz and was rooting for them from the start. The daily struggles of Alice’s life set in the present timeline were completely relatable and I could understand where her character was coming from in her choices and thoughts. I must also say that I was impressed by how Kelly Rimmer was able to distinguish the two story lines in terms of her writing style. The writing of the past felt vintage. The writing of the present felt modern.
This one was expertly crafted. If you loved The Nightingale or Next Year in Havana, I have a feeling this one will not let you down. It comes highly recommended and I don’t think it will be leaving me any time soon.