Friday 15 February 2019

Review: Words We Don't Say by K.J. Reilly

Joel Higgins has 901 unsent text messages saved on his phone.

Ever since the thing that happened, there are certain people he hasn't been able to talk to in person. Sure, he shows up at school, does his mandatory volunteer hours at the soup kitchen, and spends pretty much every moment thinking about Eli, the most amazing girl in the world. But that doesn't mean he's keeping it together, or even that he has any friends.

So instead of hanging out with people in real life, he drafts text messages. But he never presses send.
As dismal as sophomore year was for Joel, he doesn't see how junior year will be any better. For starters, Eli doesn't know how he feels about her, his best friend Andy's gone, and he basically bombed the SATs. But as Joel spends more time at the soup kitchen with Eli and Benj, the new kid whose mouth seems to be unconnected to his brain, he forms bonds with the people they serve there-including a veteran they call Rooster-and begins to understand that the world is bigger than his own pain.

In this dazzling, hilarious, and heartbreaking debut, Joel grapples with the aftermath of a tragic loss as he tries to make sense of the problems he's sees all around him with the help of banned books, Winnie-the-Pooh, a field of asparagus, and many pairs of socks.

Review: I thought this was such a cool concept for a novel and just a bit of a concept for life really. I was totally drawn in by the fact that Joel puts all the things he can't say out loud for various reasons into these unsent texts on his phone. We might do the same thing through unsent letters or emails, texts are quicker and right there in your hand though, i think it's a great idea!

Of course there are deeper meanings to the fact that Joel has these unsent messages. I liked him as a character because he is SUCH and over thinker and so I could totally relate to him. I like the fact that he thinks about the people that he sees at the soup kitchen where he volunteers and he and his friends seem to think that this is normal-how open-minded! The other characters in this book are really interesting as well and definitely three dimensional enough that you could imagine them being there in real life. I could definitely picture Joel's family, his younger brother and his mother. And then Eli was a very interesting character as well. I definitely think there is more going on in her life and indeed her head than meets the eye so I would love to see something from her in the future, perhaps a sequel. 

I really like the fact that this novels covers things going on in real kids' lives. The fact that there is pressure to volunteer but maybe you just want to give your time anyway. The fact that kids are expected to go through grief and then just bounce back because they have tests and exams coming up and they need to get on with their college applications. This doesn't always work that way and I like that more and more books (like this one) are acknowledging that. This book also covers the fact that Veterans, specifically those with PTSD aren't given the emotional support that they should when they finish their service, again they're expected to just bounce back and slot into normal every day life again. 

Although this is a short book it packs a punch. Not every moment of it is cheerful and happy escapism but it is very real and it speaks to the reader honestly. There are definitely care warnings for grief and PTSD but other than that I definitely recommend it. 

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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