Things We Didn’t Say by Kristina Riggle – Book Review

Things We Didn’t Say by Kristina Riggle
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks, in imprint of HarperCollins

Family isn’t always easy, and the Turner family has their own special problems. Michael Turner is trying to make things work with his live-in fiance Casey, but his mentally ill ex-wife Mallory doesn’t make that easy, particularly when Michael must worry about his three children every time they visit their mother for the weekend. Casey has demons of her own – the death of her brother, her recovering alcoholism – and is no longer sure that her love for Michael is enough. She’s ready to walk out the door, never to return, when she gets a call from the high school that Dylan, Michael’s middle child, attends, saying that he never showed up for school. Suddenly a complicated situation is made all the more complicated by a missing teenager, and the Turners must decide just what sort of family they really are.

Riggle is at her best when she is living inside the messy reality of modern families, and Things We Didn’t Say is full of some of her most deliciously flawed characters yet. All six of the major characters – Casey, Michael, Mallory, and the three children – narrate at least one chapter in their own voice. As opposed to her first book, Real Life & Liars, which also featured a family, but in which most character’s chapters were in the third person, each family member actually gets to narrate their chapters in first person, bringing the reader closer to even the least central members of the family. Particularly effective is one of Mallory’s chapters, her smug and destructive attitude practically oozes from the pages, leaving the reader feeling furious, and perhaps slightly contaminated by her bile.

Things We Didn’t Say is a fascinatingly intimate look at the lives of a single, ordinary family during a time of extraordinary crisis. It is rich and engrossing, a read that will captivate your very heart. I read almost the entire thing in two sittings, and would have easily sat long enough to read it in a single sitting, had my own life not intervened. Things We Didn’t Say is a beautiful book; highly recommended.

Disclaimer: Please note, I have spent some time in a friendly manner with Riggle at various book events, but this has in no way influenced the content of this review. I loved this book wholeheartedly because it is great book, and not because I occasionally chat with Riggle on Twitter.

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