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The Things We Cannot Say: A heart-breaking, inspiring novel of hope and a love to defy all odds in World War Two

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This book jumps between 1940s Poland and today. Both stories completely captivated me seemingly disconnected, but as more pieces were added to the puzzle things started to become more clearer. Alice’s story took place in present day, she is the mother of seven-year-old Eddie and 10-year-old Callie. Eddie is on the autism spectrum and nonverbal. Alice’s main focus in life now is to create an environment best suited for Eddie’s needs, something her husband Wade does not always understand or appreciate. When Alice’s beloved grandmother has a stroke and asks Alice to travel to Poland, will Alice refuse her grandmother’s dying wish? How can Alice’s family survive without her? Wade does not seem to understand all of Eddie’s quirks and needs. Poland late 1930s-early 1940s. Alina is a naïve teenager who thinks the hardest thing in her life will be staying away from her beloved fiancé Tomasz while he is away at college. It isn’t too long however before Alina Has to look reality right in the face. Germany has invaded Poland, her twin brothers are sent off to work camps, food is scarce, and freedom is gone. Alina soon learns that she is much stronger and vraver than she ever would have thought. Two courageous women faced with some pretty big challenges, how will their stories intertwine?

Although I enjoyed this book, it feels a little too long for my taste. Also, Grandmother never had two weeks to go on vacation to Poland to get some answers for herself? I find this very hard to believe. The Things We Cannot Say is a heartbreaking, heartwarming hopeful story that explores love, loss, hardship, sacrifice and the relationships that bond people together. Through duel timelines, we see the bonds between a family and the things they cannot say and the things that bring them together. The story is told in a dual timeline, something very trendy apparently nowadays in WWII books. One during the war in Poland and the other in the present day. And obviously, the two timelines will connect. This captivating tale was my introduction to the breathtaking storytelling of Kelly Rimmer, and it was an exceptional and epic experience. I was immediately embroiled in the vastly different situations and timelines that consumed and defined Alice and Alina’s worlds, with each storyline cast with curiously and uniquely fascinating characters and circumstances. The story comes together in an emotional and powerful ending that will surely have you reaching for tissues. After reading this one we were left a mess, cried a bit and then shared our thoughts with each other. This is the type of story to share with someone and I am glad to be able to share with Lindsay and a couple of our Traveling Sisters.

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Admittedly, I haven't read a ton of books from the Polish perspective, much less from a devout Catholic protagonist; the Holocaust was definitely present within the book (Alina lived down the road from Auschwitz-Birkenau), but it wasn’t described in full. One of the key tenets of Alina’s character is that she is babied by the adults in her life, so she’s not sure what’s happening over there…or with the Resistance…or to Jews….until a man explains it to her. Yes, this is a big pet peeve of mine, can you tell?

Meanwhile, Kelly's narrator read at a much faster pace and her voice was fresh and full of life. I have to admit that made me look to her parts more than Alina's.

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Alina is the youngest daughter of the Dziak family. Truda her oldest sister is married to Mateusz. Alina's twin brothers, Filipe and Stanislaw help her father, Bartuk, and her mother, Faustina with farming. Alina, being the youngest, gets away with doing less work and uses any free time she has to spend it with Tomasz, her true love. In Poland, separated from her family, Alice begins to uncover the story her grandmother is so desperate to tell, and discovers a love that bloomed in the winter of 1942. As a painful family history comes to light, will the struggles of the past and present finally reach a heartbreaking resolution? In the present day, eighty five year old Hannah is dying. She's having strokes, is in the hospital, and will probably never leave alive. Despite the fact that she can't communicate verbally, she has something she wants her granddaughter, Alice, to do for her. Alice, who is in a daily struggle to meet the needs of her son Eddie, seven years old, nonverbal, and on the autism spectrum. Eddie's means of communication becomes a way for Hannah to communicate her wishes with Alice and soon, Alice knows that Hannah has something very important for her to do.

Meanwhile, Kelly's narrator read at a much faster pace and her voice was fresh and full of life. I have to admit that made me look to her parts more than A I absolutely loved this book. The characters were multi-layered and so imperfect that they seemed real. We follow Alice, who struggles with a young son with Asperger's Syndrome, a prodigy daughter and a work-addicted husband as she travels to Poland and begins to uncover a heartbreaking story that will touch her family in more ways than one. I braced myself for the ugly cry I knew was coming and I wasn't wrong. It made me feel so many emotions. 😢

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Synopsis: In 1942, Europe remains in the relentless grip of war. Just beyond the tents of the Russian refugee camp she calls home, a young woman speaks her wedding vows. It’s a decision that will alter her destiny…and it’s a lie that will remain buried until the next century. This is my Review of the Month for the review collection on LovelyAudiobooks.info Meet the Author, Kelly Rimmer

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