The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer will most likely be one of my top five books this year. And yes, if you know me, part of the plot is about World War II (my favorite genre) but this book is so much more than another war story.
The Things We Cannot Say is the second dual timeline story I have read this month. The prologue of the novel starts with the marriage of Alina Dziak to Tomasz Slaski while they are in a Russian camp after escaping Poland. The timeline then goes back to Alina’s younger days and her courtship with her beloved Tomasz. Tomasz leaves to study medicine, but soon World War II breaks out. Alina’s village, which is very close is Auschwitz, is soon occupied by the Nazis. The lengths that Tomasz and Alina go through to be reunited are a beautiful testament to their love and bravery.
The other timeline follows the modern-day Alice. Alice and her husband, Wade, have two children: a highly gifted daughter, Callie and a son on the autism spectrum, Eddie. Alice and Wade have grown distant since the birth of Eddie, who is non-communitive. The two have very different parenting skills and Wade has little interaction with Eddie. Fortunately, Eddie has learned to use the Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) app on his tablet to speak.
Alice’s beloved 95-year-old grandmother, Hannah, who Alice calls Babcia, suffers a stroke and loses her ability to speak. Hannah uses Eddie’s ACC app and through the limited use of icons, tells Alice to go to Poland to “find Tomasz”. Tomasz was the name of Hannah’s husband, who is deceased. Alice tells her Pa is dead and thinks her grandmother is confused, but Babcia again types: No Pa. Find Tomasz, then Trzebinia. Hannah also gives Alice other names and addresses that are apparently very important to her. Alice’s domineering mother thinks that Hannah has become mentally unsound, but Alice doesn’t agree. Alice bravely leaves her children with their workaholic husband while she goes to Poland on an unclear quest for her grandmother. While in Poland, Alice learns the secret that her grandmother never could say.
My Rating: 5 BIG STARS
The dual timeline weaves us in and out of World War II Poland and modern-day Poland and Florida with great ease. The primary topic is the secrets that were never spoken after the war, and the effect on later generations. Other topics are perseverance, loyalty, love, and honor. Family relationships are also beautifully explored. This would be an excellent book club selection.