Book review: Everything Left Unsaid by Jessica Davidson

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I need to start this review with a few disclaimers: Firstly, this is a completely unbiased review. I would be upset were anyone to think differently, because I always strive to act with integrity in everything I do and something as important (to me, in my life) as a book review is no exception. Ever. That said, Jessica Davidson is, and has been, a friend of mine for some time. She inspires and motivates me as a writer, but also as a friend and mother. If I hadn't liked her book, I'd have politely outlined my reasons, along with what, if anything, I did enjoy. Thankfully, that wasn't the case. I loved this book. I really loved it, and I am so proud of her. I begged her publicist for an Advance Release Copy and was so grateful he obliged. Whilst he didn't request or demand a review in return, I felt it was standard practice and the least I could do in return.

First, the blurb: "I wait for him, the cold seeping through my clothes, until it finally dawns on me that he's not coming back. And I wonder why he chose her instead of me? Why he went looking for her when I was right there."

Tai and Juliet have been best friends forever – since they met at kindy and decided to get married in first grade.

They understand each other in the way that only best friends can.

They love music, beach walks, energy drinks and, they are slowly discovering, each other.

As they begin to dream of adventures beyond the HSC – a future free of homework, curfews and parents, a life together – their plans are suddenly and dramatically derailed.

For Tai is sick.

And not everything you wish for can come true.

A poignant story of first love, hope, grief, family, and the twistedness of life.

Let me begin by saying, read this with a box of tissues at hand. I not only cried, I sobbed, and was a snotty, red eyed mess. It is such a heart wrencher, not only as someone who has loved and lost, but as a mother, as a friend, as someone who can only imagine what it's like to face your own mortality so young. In every way, from every perspective, this one rips at you. Sad books aren't for everyone, same as a sad movie, I suppose. But a book that can make you feel, that can reach into the vulnerable parts of you and reduce you to a brutal mess, is one that must be well written.

I want to share with you a few of my favorite bits, all the while avoiding spoilers where possible. These are some of the words that struck me most, for all kinds of reasons, and I wanted to share my top few.

I liked this first one because you know, this is pretty much exactly how i felt when I found out mum had breast cancer. Everything is off kilter, and she described it perfectly for me.

It's kind of like a dream, where you know you're dreaming because you know that your real life isn't quite like this. p77.

Oh man... Tai repeats this to himself a few times, this one, and it hit me hard because I could feel the same panic. Made my heart race.

"A year, Tai. You're fucked, Tai." p83

I love this line, it just is so charged, and you can feel the desperation he has to get this message across and it just made my heart ache a little. Young love. Innocent love. It's so much more perfect than what comes later in so many ways.

"You need to know,' he whispers, 'you need to remember when I'm not around to remind you, that I think you're the most beautiful girl I've ever seen.' p158.

And then comes a line that frankly, I think is the absolute best thing I have ever read in the history of ever. Not really, but still. *

Oh shit. Oh dear mcfucking shit." p166.

The next line made me adore Juliet. If I hadn't already. Attitude wins me over every single time.

He sighs. "So then you get your compass and - "
"Stab myself in the eye?" p201.

From here on I started to feel the heaviness of what was going on - "I remember your first day of kindy... you came home and told me you had a best friend, and asked if he could come over to play. He did, two days later - and that was it." p213

The vomit in the hair, Tai crying in fear... These things had me a mess. The entire last third of the book made me an emotional wreck. I actually had nightmares that night. I dreamed of losing my child, of death, of heartbreak. I think Tai and Juliet hit me a little TOO hard, and I don't know if this is in part because I watched Jess (from afar, not in the stalkery kinda way ;) ) write this and felt I knew these characters, long before I read them in final form. Jessica has done herself proud in Everything Left Unsaid. It's masterful, and it's another one of those great books that in the face of so much crap that is out there, restores my faith in good publishing and well written books. It's in bookstores from August 1, you won't regret snapping it up.

5 out of 5 stars.

*The only biased line of this review ;) 


Lori L. Clark said...

I am in the process of reading this book right now. He's just barely been diagnosed with the tumor and already I'm getting teary eyed.

What a wonderful review you've written. :)

PS. I'm mostly vegan, completely vegetarian!

FeistyKel said...

Oh I was a sobbing mess by the end, I really was! Such a good book!!! Awesome to read your vego, how do you find it?

FeistyKel said...

I cannot believe I just wrote your rather than you're. Oh dear.

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