Review Copy Provided by Author via NetGalley
Getting drunk homecoming night your senior year is never a good idea, but Jake Hayes never expected it all to end with a car crash and a t-post embedded in his throat.
His biggest regret about it all? What he never said to Samantha Shay. He’s been in love with her for years and never had the guts to tell her. Now it’s too late. Because after that night, Jake will never be able to talk again.
When Jake returns to his small island home, population 5,000, he’ll have to learn how to deal with being mute. He also finds that his family isn’t limited to his six brothers and sisters, that sometimes an entire island is watching out for you. And when he gets the chance to spend more time with Samantha, she’ll help him learn that not being able to talk isn’t the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Maybe, if she’ll let him, Jake will finally tell her what he didn’t say before, even if he can’t actually say it.
The first thing that caught my eye about What I Didn’t Say was the cover – I found the picture of the boy and girl facing each other, looking like they were whispering to each other to be intriguing. It made me want to know more, and then when I read the description, I was drawn in.
Drunk driving as a topic in YA books is always hard for me to digest because while I was growing up, my father was a fireman for the local fire service and he was often called out to car crashes, many of which involved drunk driving and while he didn’t often talk about it, I was able to gather enough information normally to form a picture of just how bad it was. So the images presented in What I Didn’t Say were really highlighted for me, I could visualize what happened to Jake when the car crashed and he was stabbed through the throat…and this is probably not an image that I want to see in my mind again anytime soon…
I loved seeing the characters grow and make mistakes through-out the book like normal teens do – it was refreshing to see. While I have been on a bit of a YA kick lately, it seems that either the teens in those books either have the appearance of being perfect or are so screwed up that nothing changes during the course of the book…so seeing Jake and Samantha develop and change over the course of the year was fun. I felt that the author did a good job developing the secondary characters – Jake’s parents, his siblings, friends at school…the only one that I truly wanted to bitch slap was Nora, the student body president – why is it that the popular kid that does a crappy job is always the one elected and not a quiet one who could do the job – I would have loved to have seen Samantha in that role.
However, no book is without its weaknesses, for me it was the fact that Jake was entering his senior year of high school and we knew that he wanted to join the AF and be a pilot…ok, well, from the descriptions within he was going to enlist…why was he not pushing to go to the Air Force Academy or ROTC…something which he would have had to have established prior to his senior year and that being said, why was he taking woodshop…that isn’t a class that would endear him to any college program where a strong science focus is needed – which is the way that most military programs are heading today (and yes, I say this from experience, I was in one of the last year groups where it was easy-ish to get a scholarship with a non-technical science degree..)
But that being said, after the accident and once the AF was out of the equation, I felt that the book was strong and engaging. I will definitely be looking for more books by the author in the future.