Things We Didn’t Say: A Novel by Kristina Riggle
Synopsis (from the back cover): What makes up a family? For Casey it’s sharing a house with her fiance, Michael, and his three children, whom she intends to nuture more than she ever took care of herself. But Casey’s plans have come undone…
First Sentence: My cigarette smoke twists through the predawn November air, until a gust breaks it apart.
Review: This is an interesting novel to review since all of the adult characters are largely unlikeable. This appears to be intentional on the part of the author, which is what makes Things We Didn’t Say compelling. The protagonist is a young woman engaged to a man with three children and a difficult ex-wife. At the start of the novel, Casey is about to leave behind the entire family and while her reasons are not explicitly stated at first, her fiancé appears to be distant and the children are not connecting to her as she had hoped. Just as she is leaving, one of the children, fourteen-year-old Dylan, runs away from home and this becomes the focus of the characters and of the novel.
Riggles allows the reader to get to know each character by switching the first person point of view each chapter. At first, this use of first person is a bit disorienting, but each chapter identifies who the focus of the chapter will be in the title, which helps. The children’s biological mother, Mallory, is the only character that doesn’t seem fully believable – she is just too two-dimensionally “evil” in most of her actions. If the novel was told entirely from Casey’s perspective, this one-dimensional portrayal of the ex-wife would work, but even when we are in Mallory’s head, she seems a bit too unhinged, even considering her addictions and depression.
However, Riggles creates believable and likeable young characters – Dylan and Jewel truly save this novel from focusing too much on characters who are difficult to like or relate to. This novel is a very fast read that explores the difficult relationships stepmothers must navigate when integrating into a new family.
The publisher has graciously allowed two free copies for me to give-away, so if you are interested, please leave me a comment below!
So, if you are interested, please leave me a comment and I will choose a winner by the weekend!