Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Reviews of All That's Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien

All That's Left Unsaid

A Novel

by Tracey Lien

All That's Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien X
All That's Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Sep 2022, 304 pages

    Paperback:
    Sep 2023, 304 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Callum McLaughlin
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

For fans of Everything I Never Told You and The Mothers, a deeply moving and unflinching debut following a young Vietnamese-Australian woman who returns home to her family in the wake of her brother's shocking murder, determined to discover what happened - a dramatic exploration of the intricate bonds and obligations of friendship, family, and community.

Just let him go. These are the words Ky Tran will forever regret. The words she spoke when her parents called to ask if they should let her younger brother Denny out to celebrate his high school graduation with friends. That night, Denny—optimistic, guileless, brilliant Denny—is brutally murdered inside a busy restaurant in the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta, a refugee enclave facing violent crime, an indifferent police force, and the worst heroin epidemic in Australian history.

Returning home to Cabramatta for the funeral, Ky learns that the police are stumped by Denny's case: a dozen people were at Lucky 8 restaurant when Denny died, but each of the bystanders claim to have seen nothing.

Desperately hoping that understanding what happened might ease her suffocating guilt, Ky sets aside her grief and determines to track down the witnesses herself. With each encounter, she peels back another layer of the place that shaped her and Denny, exposing the seeds of violence that were planted well before that fateful celebration dinner: by colonialism, by the war in Vietnam, and by the choices they've all made to survive.

Alternating between Ky's voice and the perspectives of the witnesses, Tracey Lien's extraordinary debut is at once heart-pounding and heart-rending as it probes the intricate bonds of friendship, family, and community through an unforgettable cast of characters, all connected by a devastating crime. Combining evocative family drama and gripping suspense, All That's Left Unsaid is a profound and moving page turner, perfect for readers of Liz Moore, Brit Bennett, and Celeste Ng.

Chapter 1

The circumstances of Denny Tran's death were so violent that most people in Cabramatta were too spooked to attend his funeral. At least that's how it seemed to his big sister, Ky. The funeral hall had been all but empty—her dead seventeen-year-old brother lay in the glossy closed casket; her parents and a few relatives kneeled next to a blown-up photo of a grinning Denny; and a Buddhist monk chanted prayers in exchange for lunch.

The only non-family in attendance were Denny's high school teachers, who huddled together big-eyed and confused by the lack of seating and eulogies. At the wake, they stood in the doorway to her family's narrow townhouse, still holding the flowers and signed cards they'd brought to the funeral (no one had told them that Vietnamese families take cash), and waved at Ky like they were getting a waiter's attention.

"Hi, Ky!" Mr. Dickson said in a voice that was too cheerful for the occasion, his mouth stretched wide in what appeared to be an ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Though Ky channels her grief into a search for answers, and thus a thread of mystery runs throughout the story, All That's Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien is not a crime novel in the traditional sense. It would be much more accurate to describe it as a family drama. The book is a very intimate look at the weight of generational trauma and our ability to hurt those we love the most. Lien's novel is also a dissection of life for Vietnamese immigrants in Australia in the 1990s, when the main events of the story take place...continued

Full Review (550 words)

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Callum McLaughlin).

Media Reviews

Oprah Daily
While the mystery is compelling, like the richest literary crime fiction, this story has broader ambitions than revealing who did it...Lien's poignant and impeccable storytelling shines.

Washington Post
Lien's debut is moving and beautifully rendered.

Shondaland
A moving debut about loss, grief, and addiction…All That's Left Unsaid is thought-provoking, highlighting a heroin epidemic, the ties that bind family, and the glaring anti-Asian sentiment that infects Australia.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Set in 1996, Lien's insightful, emotional debut intelligently incorporates cultural concerns into a tightly focused mystery...[she] skillfully blends xenophobia and the Vietnamese residents' suspicions of outsiders into a scintillating plot. Readers will eagerly await Lien's next.

Booklist
Fans of Roselle Lim and Sonya Cobb will appreciate Lien's keen exploration of the cultural impulse to close ranks after a tragedy, and the power of clarity. " -

Kirkus Reviews
[M]emorable and powerful...A fictional tragedy evoked with such clarity and specificity that it will linger in your memory as if it really happened.

Author Blurb Angie Kim, internationally bestselling author of Miracle Creek
All That's Left Unsaid is a stunning debut, an unputdownable mystery combined with a profoundly moving family drama about the ways we hurt and hide from those we love most—and how we mend and strengthen those lifelong bonds. It blew me away.

Author Blurb Katie Gutierrez, author of More Than You'll Ever Know
One of the most profoundly affecting novels I've ever read, All That's Left Unsaid is a wrenching, propulsive story about the desire to belong, the collision course between displacement and injustice, the long life of inherited trauma and the short lives we all live...Every character is rendered with astonishing precision and empathy, creating a vital and unforgettable portrait not just of a Vietnamese-Australian community, but a family fighting its way forward in the aftermath of a violent crime.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Cabramatta, New South Wales, Australia

Cabramatta Pai Lau Gate in Freedom Plaza with shops and market stalls in background Tracey Lien's debut novel, All That's Left Unsaid, follows a Vietnamese Australian family in Cabramatta, which is a suburb of Sydney, capital of the state of New South Wales. The presence of a migrant hostel in the area in the 1960s and '70s made it a hub for Southeast Asians fleeing the Vietnam War. By the mid-1990s, around a quarter of the population was Vietnamese, and Cabra — as it is affectionately known to locals — continues to be home to the largest Vietnamese community in Australia as well as a significant and diverse Asian population in general, with a city center that has been said to resemble Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) in Vietnam.

Now a go-to food destination for Vietnamese fare and other Asian cuisines, ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked All That's Left Unsaid, try these:

  • A Disappearance in Fiji jacket

    A Disappearance in Fiji

    by Nilima Rao

    Published 2024

    About this book

    A charming and atmospheric debut mystery featuring a 25-year-old Indian police sergeant investigating a missing persons case in colonial Fiji

  • Happiness Falls jacket

    Happiness Falls

    by Angie Kim

    Published 2024

    About this book

    More by this author

    When a father goes missing, his family's desperate search leads them to question everything they know about him and one another in this thrilling page-turner, a deeply moving portrait of a family in crisis from the award-winning author of Miracle Creek.

We have 6 read-alikes for All That's Left Unsaid, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Sicilian Inheritance
    The Sicilian Inheritance
    by Jo Piazza
    Sara Marsala is going through a rough patch, to say the least. In the process of divorcing from her ...
  • Book Jacket: The Light Eaters
    The Light Eaters
    by Zoë Schlanger
    The human race is completely dependent on plants. Many people, however, give little thought to ...
  • Book Jacket: Joy Is the Justice We Give Ourselves
    Joy Is the Justice We Give Ourselves
    by J Drew Lanham
    As a recipient of the MacArthur "Genius" Grant, and a Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Master ...
  • Book Jacket: Glorious Exploits
    Glorious Exploits
    by Ferdia Lennon
    Lampo and Gelon are two unemployed potters in their thirties whose lives are spent between their ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Long After We Are Gone
by Terah Shelton Harris
After their father's death, four siblings rally to save their family home in this gripping and hopeful tale.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Stolen Child
    by Ann Hood

    An unlikely duo ventures through France and Italy to solve the mystery of a child’s fate.

  • Book Jacket

    Daughters of Shandong
    by Eve J. Chung

    Eve J. Chung's debut novel recounts a family's flight to Taiwan during China's Communist revolution.

Win This Book
Win Only the Brave

Only the Brave by Danielle Steel

A powerful, sweeping historical novel about a courageous woman in World War II Germany.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

F T a T

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.