Book review: The things we cannot say by Kelly Rimmer

Genre: Historical fiction

Rating 5/5


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.

Since she was nine years old, Alina Dziak knew she would marry her best friend, Tomasz. Now fifteen and engaged, Alina is unconcerned by reports of Nazi soldiers at the Polish border, believing her neighbors that they pose no real threat, and dreams instead of the day Tomasz returns from college in Warsaw so they can be married. But little by little, injustice by brutal injustice, the Nazi occupation takes hold, and Alina’s tiny rural village, its families, are divided by fear and hate.

Then, as the fabric of their lives is slowly picked apart, Tomasz disappears. Where Alina used to measure time between visits from her beloved, now she measures the spaces between hope and despair, waiting for word from Tomasz and avoiding the attentions of the soldiers who patrol her parents’ farm. But for now, even deafening silence is preferable to grief.

My verdict: I haven’t cried whilst reading a book since Jodi Picoult’s ‘The storyteller.’ I held my breath as I read each chapter and lapped up the romance and the drama, hungry for every mortal of information. I consider myself quite the historian when it comes to WWII and the suffering that people endured but, my eyes were opened wider to the oppression, bravery and strength of the polish/ Jewish community. I had to keep reminding myself that although the romance and mystery were fiction, these events did occur. On the flip side Kelly Rimmer doesn’t stereotype autism like you see in the media and instead portrays the highs and lows of a special needs caregiver, teaching us about patience and understanding. This book is so much more than a romantic drama, it is a complex tale revealed layer by layer set against one of the darkest periods in world history. A must read for any historian and is up there with the tattooist Auschwitz and the boy in the striped pyjamas.

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