Things You Can’t Say
Drew, the twelve-year-old main character of Jenn Bishop’s wonderful new novel, Things You Can’t Say, is struggling to come to grips with a traumatic event in his life: the suicide of his father three and a half years earlier. Shy and quietly reflective, Drew spends his days during the summer break from school in the basement of the local library, doing odd jobs for the children’s librarian and entertaining the library’s youngest visitors with “zombified” puppet show versions of famous fairy tales and bedtime stories. When we first meet Drew, his normal routine is suddenly interrupted by a series of unexpected and unwelcome events. His special place in the library’s children section is challenged by the appearance of a precocious 12-year-old computer whiz named Audrey. His best friend and next-door-neighbor, Felipe, begins spending much of his time with an older and more athletic friend from school. And, most disruptive of all, a bearded, motorcycle-riding childhood friend of his mother arrives for an unannounced visit at his home, sparking a budding romance with his mother and threatening his role as the man of the house. But the real drama in Drew’s life takes place in his own mind and heart, as he reflects on the meaning of his father’s death and its impact on his own life and identity. In the character of Drew, novelist Jenn Bishop has created a remarkably realistic and sympathetic protagonist, who slowly but surely finds a way to reconcile his private thoughts and his public behavior. For young readers who are prepared to be engaged by its difficult subject matter, Things You Can’t Say is a deeply moving and insightful story of grieving, friendship, and self-discovery.
David Shirley ©2020 Parents’ Choice
David Shirley’s recent nonfiction titles include A History of Brooklyn Bridge Park and Fix It Leroy! His YA biographies, Every Day I Sing the Blues: The Story of B. B. King and Satchel Paige: Baseball Legend were honored as the New York Public Library’s Best Books for Teens.