Published by Penguin Teen Australia on 1st May 2016
Boffins, Dymocks, Booktopia
I hate the label Selective Mutism - as if I choose not to speak, like a child who refuses to eat broccoli. I've used up every dandelion wish since I was ten wishing for the power to speak whenever I want to. I'm starting to wonder if there are enough dandelions.
After losing her best friend that night, Piper Rhodes changes schools, determined that her final year will be different. She will be different. Then she meets West: school captain, star soccer player, the boy everyone talks about. Despite her fear of losing everything all over again, Piper falls in love - and West with her - without Piper ever speaking one word to him. But will it last?
When I was growing up, the AussieYA authors that spoke deep to our teenage hearts were John Marsden, Melina Marchetta, Jaclyn Moriarty, Julia Lawrinson and Brigid Lowry (just to name drop a few).
Once again, I feel proud to be an Aussie, because the new generation of amazingly talented #LoveOzYA (and their #LoveNZYA counterparts) authors are creating a name for themselves, and Kylie Fornasier’s debut contemporary is right up there.
Piper lives with Selective Mutism, a condition where she can’t speak unless it’s with her family or trusted loved ones. She finds herself in a completely new environment at a new school after an incident with her best friend leaves her shattered. It’s at her new school she meets West, a charming boy who challenges her to be herself.
What really stood out about The Things I Didn’t Say for me was the reoccurring theme that our words have power. They have the power to hurt, to destroy and to shatter just as much as they have to build up and encourage and to praise. For Piper, living with Selective Mutism means she can’t always express what it is she wants to say. Sadly, our world is not as understanding as it should be, and Fornasier touches on the impact and importance of our words. I loved the way that Piper wasn’t confined to her Selective Mutism, and really tried her hardest to break the mould and not be defined by her inability to speak around others.
Another fantastic part of The Things We Didn’t Say was Piper’s family. HER FAMILY! I loved them. They were an amazing dynamic of unique characters that made up the people she loved the most, a rarity in young adult novels these days. Each was an important part in Piper’s character arc and growth, and it was wonderful to see a family that genuinely loves and supports each other the way hers did.
This is a novel to read if you’re feeling sad or alone. It’s a novel to read if you’ve ever felt hurt by someone’s words, or made to feel anything less than you should be by people’s actions. It’s about coming to terms with who you are and embracing that – and in the end what you get is a truly beautiful story.