What I Didn't Say
By Keary Taylor
Published on April 30, 2012
Published by CreateSpace
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
This book was a very quick read. You get sucked into the story and Jake's narration very quickly. The author does a great job at keeping the pace moving forward, even when Jake is sinking down into depression after his life drastically changes. I liked having the change of pace of seeing a male narrator. It was nice to hear a different voice for once, especially in what is mostly a teen romance novel. Usually it's the girl who is doing the pining over a boy she doesn't think will ever care about her, and the situations are reversed here. The location, a small island off the coast of Washington, makes for an interesting setting. The community is tight-knight and really bands together after Jake's accident. After reading several books where it seems like the main character is abandoned after bad things happen, it was great to read about people supporting someone in their time of need, even if that person doesn't really want their help.
I thought the romance blossoming between Jake and Sam was very sweet and realistic. I like the fact that it wasn't a book about people wanting to change someone else -- Jake loves Sam because she's the smartest girl in school and doesn't try to change that or take her away from her studies. Of course, their relationship is fraught with miscommunication. It's realistic for teenagers but was frustrating to read sometimes. I kind of wanted to shake the book (well, my Kindle) and ask them what they were doing. As a reader, I had a lot of ideas for how the characters should have handled some of the situations that came up, but then again, I don't know that I would have done things any differently as a 17/18 year old. But still, you spend a lot of time going just ask for help, come on! which can be a bit of a distraction.
There were a few things that I didn't like. I was uncomfortable with the treatment of Norah, who is a girl after Jake's affections and most commonly referred to as "Norah the Whorah". Not to get up too high on my feminist soapbox on a YA book blog, but I didn't like the fact that one of her main characteristics as the "bad girl" in the story was that she dressed provocatively and had a "reputation". Similarly, I didn't like the fact that Sam, for as resourceful as she was in dealing with some of the issues she faces, also seemed to fall into a role where Jake repeatedly had to save or help her. I guess it makes her more realistic, and there are certainly reasons why Sam acts the way she does in the book, but I couldn't help but wish that she spent less time having things happen to her.
Despite a few problems, I overall enjoyed reading What I Didn't Say. This book is a YA romance but is also a story about overcoming adversity, finding your strength, and doing whatever it takes to support the person you love. I would recommend this for older, more mature teens mostly because of several steamy make-out scenes and drug/alcohol use.