Things We Didn't Say: Book summary and reviews of Things We Didn't Say by Kristina Riggle

Things We Didn't Say

A Novel

By Kristina Riggle

Things We Didn't Say
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2011,
    352 pages.

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Book Summary

Twenty-six-year-old Casey thought love and a fierce stubbornness would be enough to hold together her fragile new family with fiance Michael and his three children: two difficult teens and a quirky little girl prone to stress-induced stomachaches. But Michael's ever-lengthening silences make her wonder if she has a place in the house at all.

Then, fourteen-year-old Dylan doesn't show up at school, pushing Casey's uncertainly to the back burner. His father's convinced he's just cutting class, but Casey fears something much worse as every lead she chases turns up nothing. Then, the kids' volatile mother crashes on the scene daughter Angel digs up an ugly fact about Casey's past, and suddenly Casey's new life - her fresh start - unravels before her eyes. Even if they can find Dylan safe and sound, it's clear that this family's problems run much deeper than anyone dared say out loud.

Paperback Original.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Riggle paints with exquisite care a not-so-pretty picture of modern life, when running away can seem like the only option if it promises just a little bit of freedom. Bring tissues." - Library Journal

"Though Riggle's use of multiple perspectives is less than inspired, she creates an involving portrayal of the obstacles confronting today's families." - Publishers Weekly

"Riggle... ambitiously tells the story through the viewpoints of the three adults and the three children, and she mostly succeeds in capturing each narrator's distinct tone... [An] absorbing novel about a blended family." - Booklist

"Kristina Riggle writes women's fiction with soul. Her characters are both familiar and quirky, and reading their stories is like spending a weekend catching up with your oldest friends. You come away laughing and also touched that someone knows you so well." - Tiffany Baker, author of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Amy B. (Louisville, KY)
Things We Didn't Say
This book opens well and is engaging. The writing, character & plot development all are pretty basic, not demanding much of the reader except to come along for the ride (a feature which is admittedly very nice sometimes!). That being said, this book is not a "beach read" either, as it deals with very real, tough, & contemporary family topics.

The author uses the multiple viewpoints of the books' main characters to share the story, framing the family challenges using their various perspectives from chapter to chapter. There is no "winner" in a story like this (whose characters were left general enough that many readers can find themselves relating to someone in the story). Through this very human narrative, the author provides readers with a healthy reminder to shine the light back on ourselves once in awhile & see how we may impact the lives of our loved ones through our action and/or inaction, even through the seemingly simple situations.

Although not necessarily its intended audience, I think the book will appeal mostly to young adults, with whom it seemed the author had the closest connection. If it were not for some tougher adult topics, I think that the younger readers of this group (age 12 - 16) would really connect with the book, finding comfort & understanding in how the author relates & presents the many different positions of the characters.

Personally, I didn't enjoy this book as much as I wanted to, feeling that both the characters and the story were close, but just not quite "there"... I kept wanting more out of both which just didn't develop for me... I think the book is missing a richness which the author is definitely capable of - I do look forward to further writing by this author.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Jane C. (Brighton, MI)
Things We Didn't Say
Great Book Group read. Kristina makes you think about how you hide things from family and friends. Especially things that are controversial and might cause problems. As the book develops, you begin to realize that if things had been said in a timely manner, maybe results in life would be different. Ms Riggle seems to have a finger on character development from many perspectives. Not sure how she is able to entwine the thoughts and moods of so many characters at one time to develop a fascinating novel. Since I live in Michigan, it was fun to see the the places that she used as a background for the story.

Rated 2 of 5 of 5 by Duane F. (Cape Girardeau, MO)
Things that have been said and said and said....
Where to begin... This book left me feeling like the author thinks the average reader is fourteen and afraid of big thoughts! It is so over explained, over simplified and over indulged. The charachers are exactly what one would expect... overly evil as the mother portrays, overly nerotic and unobservant as the father portrays and the kids seem to have more sense than anyone. The story could have been powerful if the main plot left the reader with something to think about. Perhaps the characters could have been more complicated, not so clearly the bad mother, the confused and struggling girlfriend and the father more tuned in and less reactive. Why not explore the run-a-way son his internet contact instead of having it be such a straight forward explanation. There too, the girl"s father is the typical bad "doesn't understand" sort. I did not find any of the characters compelling. Sorry.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Kenan R. (Liberty, MO)
Things We Didn't Say
An engaging train wreck. This book is gray and cold, and keeps the readers oddly at a distance while drawing us into one family’s crisis as casual observers. The dialog driven story piques and holds your interest as the household implodes, and our characters are cast adrift within the author’s very tight framework of time and location. It feels like a play - a “slice of life” character study of people and the fine filaments that hold us together as families. Taking place over just a few days, we feel the disquiet that grips a would-be step mother and her inability to take charge of a family as it unravels. The characters are raw, and not necessarily pretty. The author gives us enough information to satisfy, while keeping us wondering what will happen to them.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Ginger K. (Ballwin, MO)
A Cast of Characters
This was a page turning fiasco of disfunction. A family crisis brings the simmering issues into dramatic relief as the characters bring their own spin to the situation, well, several situations really. Each has his or her own view of what is happening based on what they know of the others which, of course, is only partial because no one is opening up to the vulnerability of being completely open and honest.

Poigniant, gentle and real it doesn't hit the reader aside the head with overstated drama, yet remains captivating. The things said are in essence non conversations, and more is said about what's going on by this non communication than the words. In this book, what is not said is what is real. I believe that this book would be an excellent book for book club discussion as it inspires us not only to ask questions about the characters, but questions about ourselves.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Eileen L. (Danvers, MA)
Well Intentioned but a tad contrived
This book is a nice, quick read with mostly likeable, if not a bit typecast, characters. Casey, the protagonist, finds herself in the middle of a sinking family and in the role of the "stable one", which is not a role she feels she can live up to. So while the story is interesting it just struck me as contrived and generic. I guess, for me, the book only the seemed to want to scratch the surface of the characters lives. Also, all the eventually revealed "secrets" were anti-climatic. Not a bad book, but not a book that stayed with me after I turned the last page.

...16 more reader reviews

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Kristina Riggle is a freelance journalist, a published short story writer, and coeditor for fiction at the e-zine Literary Mama. She is also the author of The Life You Imagined and Real Life and Liars. She lives and writes in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her husband, two kids, and dog.

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