Author: Keary Taylor
Genre: contemporary, romance, drama
Published: April 30th, 2012
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Source: NetGalley - I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
"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."-Goodreads
You know those books that come along and at first they seem okay and maybe sort of hoakie and then the ending is just perfect? This is one of those books. After the first couple of chapters I had decided that it was just okay, but by the second half of the book I couldn't get enough. Jake is happy, popular and in love with Sam Shay. The only problem is, he doesn't have the guts to tell her that. After a night of drunken shenanigans he is involved in a horrific accident that causes him to lose his vocal cords and, almost, his life. Smart, kind, Samantha volunteers to help Jake learn sign language and before too long they don't need words. As Jake learns more about Sam's life, he realizes that maybe other people have it worse than him. Throw in a cast of goofy classmates and a huge, loving family and you have What I Didn't Say.
- Samantha: Samantha is the quintessential good girl, but even she has secrets. She is smart, kind and a super overachiever. She seems pretty perfect and Jake certainly thinks so. We find out pretty early in the book, however, that Sam's life is anything but perfect. I won't go into detail because I don't want to spoil anything, but let's just say that I don't think I could deal with what Sam has to go through. And through it all she proves to be strong and capable while maintaining her caring and compassionate nature. Sam is the type of person that we all aspire to be and it's so hard to read this book without wanting to just give her a big hug. She definitely needs one. Despite having huge problems of her own, she wants to help Jake and she works hard to do so. Their relationship and connection is really amazing and watching that relationship grow and change was just spectacular.
- Jake's Family: Jake has a HUGE family. There are seven kids and his parents, I would live in the yard if there were that many people living in my house. But even though it's crowded, there's also plenty of love to go around. These people, even the younger kids, are so supportive it's crazy. My brother and sister and I fight daily over who has to let the dogs out, but Jake's family is like a big puppy pile of domestic bliss (not that they don't have any fun together of course). And his mom, oh my god. She is super mom, she's constantly feeding everyone and having get togethers for the island kids and she's still slightly intimidating, which I think every mom should be. The family relationships were really nice to see and it added a lot of fun and quirkiness to the story.
- The Ending! (no spoilers, I promise): I LOVED the ending. You know how when you're reading a book, you have an idea of the perfect ending, exactly how you would want it to happen in real life? Well, without giving anything away, this one hit all the right marks. I actually yelled "YES!" at one point during the last chapter, that is how happy it made me. This is the type of ending I wish all contemporaries had. I just had a big goofy smile on my face all day.
- Angelic teenagers (sort of): The kids in the book could be somewhat unbelievable sometimes. They were just too well behaved. Well, kind of. There were other things about these kids that made the idea that they were so well behaved really unbelievable. First there's Jake, who won't swear because his mom ingrained it in him that swearing was bad, but will get trashed at a party and then let his drunk friend drive him around. Really? So you won't drop the f-bomb but you'll let Drunky McLush-pants drive you home? Seriously? Sorry but I find that a little difficult to wrap my head around. A good expletive never killed anyone. And it isn't just Jake. He explains how there are lots of island parties with red plastic cups and "glass pipes" (wonder what those are for) but these same kids sign a pledge after his accident that they won't drink anymore. I just don't buy that.
- Ask for help, already! : Something that has always annoyed me in young adult books and movies is when someone is in real trouble, trouble that a parent could help get them out of and they refuse to ask for help. This usually ends up causing all sorts of problems and then the parent steps in anyway and helps out and all is well. Can't we just cut out the middle and save ourselves the stress? Samantha has some pretty sizable issues that she needs to figure out and I couldn't help but think that if Jake just went to his parents they could have helped her. I suppose we wouldn't really have a book then though.
- Predictability: There were some aspects of the story-line (especially in the first half of the book) that were just very predictable. Luckily the second half more than made up for that.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves realistic romance, drama and happy endings. This story will stick with me for a long time and I'll have a hard time not comparing other contemporaries to this one.