The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly RimmerThe Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

The Things We Cannot Say

byKelly Rimmer

Paperback | March 19, 2019

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In 1942, Europe remains in the relentless grip of war. Just beyond the tents of the Russian refugee camp she calls home, a young woman speaks her wedding vows. It’s a decision that will alter her destiny…and it’s a lie that will remain buried until the next century.

Since she was nine years old, Alina Dziak knew she would marry her best friend, Tomasz. Now fifteen and engaged, Alina is unconcerned by reports of Nazi soldiers at the Polish border, believing her neighbors that they pose no real threat, and dreams instead of the day Tomasz returns from college in Warsaw so they can be married. But little by little, injustice by brutal injustice, the Nazi occupation takes hold, and Alina’s tiny rural village, its families, are divided by fear and hate. Then, as the fabric of their lives is slowly picked apart, Tomasz disappears. Where Alina used to measure time between visits from her beloved, now she measures the spaces between hope and despair, waiting for word from Tomasz and avoiding the attentions of the soldiers who patrol her parents’ farm. But for now, even deafening silence is preferable to grief.

Slipping between Nazi-occupied Poland and the frenetic pace of modern life, Kelly Rimmer creates an emotional and finely wrought narrative that weaves together two women’s stories into a tapestry of perseverance, loyalty, love and honor. The Things We Cannot Say is an unshakable reminder of the devastation when truth is silenced…and how it can take a lifetime to find our voice before we learn to trust it.
Kelly Rimmer is a USA Today bestselling women's fiction author of five novels. She currently lives in Australia. Her most recent novel, Before I Let You Go, was released in 2018. Her novels have been translated into over 20 languages.
Title:The Things We Cannot SayFormat:PaperbackDimensions:432 pages, 8.94 × 5.98 × 1.2 inPublished:March 19, 2019Publisher:Graydon House BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1525823566

ISBN - 13:9781525823565

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best in Genre!!! Many thanks to #NetGalley and Harlequin-Graydon House for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review. If I could give this book ten stars I would gladly do so! It was that good and I enjoyed it that much. It would make an excellent book for a book club discussion and includes a reader guide to facilitate with that. In her notes, Kelly Rimmer states that for her "the best fiction always contains threads of the personal." Her inspiration for this story began at a family party that took place some ten years before this book was written. As she and her family celebrated while eating traditional Polish foods it struck her that her now large family had begun with a single Polish Catholic couple who, displaced by war, had emigrated huge distances from their home and the world they knew to a country that was often "less than welcoming to refugees". Sadly, the author did not know too much about her grandparents story beyond the fact that "they had little time to reflect or grieve even once the war ended. Their focus was on the future, and the physical, emotional and psychological wounds of war were soon trapped beneath the surface of the new life they were forging. The lessons they learned along the way were often lost to time." Their story inspired her to learn more about what it would have been like for people like her grandparents and led to in-depth research including a trip to Poland where she actually viewed buildings that had meaning to those in her family. As the author studied and researched what life was like for Polish citizens under Nazi occupation, she was "inspired by so many stories of love and survival, even in the face of unimaginable oppression and cruelty." Out of this inspiration came the story of Alina, Tomaz and Saul. Rimmer marveled that "not even the worst of humanity is powerful enough to stamp out grace, or hope or love." As the story begins in 1942, young Alina is just outside a tent city of the Buzuluk refugee and military camp in the Soviet Union. All her life she has dreamed of her wedding day when she would make her vows of love to Tomaz Slaski, the boy she grew up with and always loved. Instead of her dream wedding she finds herself being married in terrible conditions while knowing that most of the people she loved were either dead, in a concentration camp or just lost. As I read I could feel her despair as she and her groom, both covered with lice, made their promises. The story, however, is not just the story of Alina. It is also the story of her daughter and her grand-daughter Alice. Rimmer moves back and forth between the past and the present as she tells the story of this family. Alice has a son Eddie, whose life has been severely affected by autism. He communicates using a special tablet. She also has a daughter Pascale, who is brilliant. Her husband Wade is a wonderful father to Pascale, but has never really bonded with Eddie and doesn't really understand how important schedule and routine are in making Eddie's life a happy one. As I read about Alice's life with her children and the love and care she poured into caring for Eddie it brought back memories for me of my life growing up with a sister who was mentally handicapped. The experiences Rimmer described were gut-wrenching and reminded me of scenes from my own past and the knowledge of how my family was affected by the need to care for my sister. The tools and techniques Rimmer describes include some things that are still in use in my sisters care. Alice's grandmother Hanna or Babcia as she calls her is one of the most important people in Alice's life and also in Eddie's life. As the modern part of the story begins, she is in hospital having suffered a minor stroke and Alice and Eddie are rushing to get to the hospital to spend as much time as they can with her. Babcia is 95 and Alice recognizes that her time is likely to be short. When they finally make it to the hospital, Alice's mother Julita Slaski-Davis is waiting impatiently and Babcia is unable to communicate verbally. Despite that, her love for her grandson is evident and heartwarming. While Alice gets a health update from the doctor, Eddie uses his tablet to "talk" with Babcia and Babcia manages to use it to reply. This discovery makes it possible for Babcia to communicate at least some of her wishes though not without some confusion. Ultimately it becomes clear that she wants Alice to make a trip to Poland on her behalf to find out things that Babcia did not know when she left her home. As the main caregiver for Eddie, this seems to be an almost impossible request but Alice finally, with her husbands support, (even though he has no clue what he is getting himself into) makes the decision to go to Poland. And so their stories unfold moving seamlessly back and forth from past to present and back again. I have been lucky enough to visit Poland and visit Auschwitz and Terezin. As I read Alina's story and alongside the story of Tomaz and Saul (a young Jewish doctor), I felt as if I was there while it was happening. As I read Alice's story I was moved by her experiences and discoveries and by how her nuclear family adapted to her absence and overcame issues that had really been holding them back from being a united family. This is a novel about love and respect and the strength it takes to survive some of the toughest things that life has to throw at you. It may not be for the faint of heart as some of the descriptions of things that happened during wartime are truly horrible but it is a book that needs to be read and remembered. I know I will be reading it again. This book is more than a novel about war (although it certainly tells the story eloquently). First and foremost it is a story about family and I leave you with the final paragraph. "Our family life is never going to be easy, but that can't stop any one of us from reaching for our dreams. It cost our ancestors too damned much for us to have this life - the best thing we can do to honor them is to live it to its fullest."
Date published: 2019-02-18

Editorial Reviews

"In The Things We Cannot Say, Kelly Rimmer deftly weaves together the narratives of Alina, a young woman struggling to survive the Second World War in Poland and Alice, a mother and wife juggling the intergenerational complexities of modern family. Their stories converge when Alice undertakes a journey to uncover the secrets of her dying grandmother's past. Fans of The Nightingale and Lilac Girls will adore The Things We Cannot Say, a poetic and unforgettable tale of the past that is always with us, the truth that sets us free and the long journey home." - Pam Jenoff, NYT Bestselling Author of The Orphan's Tale"Kelly Rimmer has raised the already high bar with this unforgettable novel, The Things We Cannot Say. It is that rare author that takes the reader so deeply into a world that you smell the smells, feel the hunger, see the devastation. Alina and Tomasz's story is one of bravery, resilience, and the lengths we will go to for the ones we love. If this book isn't a giant bestseller, I will eat my hat. Fans of Jodi Picoult and Kristin Hannah now have a new go-to author." -Sally Hepworth, NYT Bestselling Author of The Secrets of Midwives"[The Things We Cannot Say] is such an emotional and powerful read that I found it almost impossible to put down. I was riveted, and will be recommending this book to everyone I know." -Sally Hepworth bestselling author of THE SHAPE OF US"Kelly Rimmer skillfully takes us deep inside a world where love must make choices that logic cannot. Ripped from the headlines and from the heart, Before I Let You Go is an unforgettable novel that will amaze and startle you with its impact and insight." -Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author of The Bookshop at Water's End"Get ready for fireworks in your book club when you read Before I Let You Go! One of the best books for discussion that I've read in years." -Diane Chamberlain, New York Times bestselling author of The Stolen Marriage"Kelly Rimmer's shimmering and poignant new novel, Before I Let You Go broadens our current national conversation about seeking to combat the deadly yet curable disease of addiction while being ultimately a story of relationships."--Library Journal, Editor's Pick"Rimmer's timely novel captures the unbreakable bond of two sisters and humanizes the difficult intersection of the opioid epidemic and the justice system."-Publishers Weekly"A deeply emotional and thought-provoking read. It was impossible to not be moved by this beautifully written book." -Vanessa Carnevale, author of The Florentine Bridge"Another incredible, gripping read from an exceptionally talented author. This book takes you through myriad emotions, whilst opening your eyes to some very important issues for women. I read this in one sitting... So will you. A magnificent read I can't praise or recommend highly enough." -Heather Hill, author of The New Mrs D"Heartbreaking, soul-searching but ultimately uplifting, this thought-provoking book challenges the judgements society makes and weaves a heartwarming story around the bonds we forge as sister, mother and partner." -Zara Stoneley, author of The Holiday Swap