Author: Keary Taylor
Source: NetGalley ARC
Genre: Young Adult
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Caution: May contain spoilers
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.
Upon reading the synopsis, I HAD to read this. Several years back I took a sign language class and was amazed by the deaf community. And along with those who are deaf, there are also those who are mute that use sign language. So, I knew that this would be the case in this story, and I wanted to see how it all panned out. I was not disappointed.
The story is told in first person from Jake’s perspective. I loved being in his head. Sometimes being in certain male character’s heads, you want to punch them in the face. This time, I wanted to just pull him into my arms for a hug, and not because of what happened to him, but just because of how he is. Jake is a good guy who doesn’t have a nasty vocabulary. He was a guy you could love and respect, and I did.
Being in Jake’s head, you feel the full force of what the accident did to him. Although he could communicate with people, by either writing it on a notebook or signing, he did a lot of observing and thinking. It was so enveloping that on two occasions after reading, I felt like I was the one who was mute and couldn’t talk. I spent several minutes in absolute silence after coming back to reality. That’s when you know a book has touched you: It feels like it is REALLY happening.
Outside of Jake and his situation, there are other aspects I enjoyed. The love story with Jake and Samantha. That was extraordinary. Jake starts to learn sign language from Sam at school. It actually dove deeper than just the sign language connection they now had. There were things that Sam was going through that Jake never knew about. And these things are a test of the strength of their relationship. I loved his family, how much they cared for him, the effort they put into learning how to communicate with him. And also the friendships he had with his friends pre-accident, and the ones he developed post-accident.
What I Didn’t Say is an excellent tale, with an important moral. What is that moral? I’d like to say, but you honestly just need to read it. Jake’s journey guides him through what could have been versus what now is. He has his moments of idiocy, but he learns to cope and to make the most of the situation. The whole story was a brilliant portrayal of the consequences of one mistake and how one can rise above the ashes and still keep walking. Keary Taylor wrote an amazing story that I will not soon forget. What I Didn’t Say will stay with me a long time.
Exceptional: Stay up until at least 1 AM