The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer | Graydon House Books {Book Review}

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

Book Summary:

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.

Slipping between Nazi-occupied Poland and the frenetic pace of modern life, Kelly Rimmer creates an emotional and finely wrought narrative. The Things We Cannot Say is an unshakable reminder of the devastation when truth is silenced…and how it can take a lifetime to find our voice before we learn to trust it.

Publication Date:

March 19th, 2019

Genre:

World War II Historical Fiction

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

My Review:

40899464.jpg

The Things We Cannot Say came highly recommended to me by some of my favorite Bookstagram friends. I enjoy the historical fiction genre but it can be a hard one to really wow me as a reader. I went into this one with a little trepidation because it is quite long and while the summary was intriguing I wasn’t sure if I was in the mood for this kind of book during this more hectic time of year. I ended up choosing it as an audiobook and it was a perfect choice. My worries were completely unnecessary because I ended up becoming completely engrossed in this storyline.

This book ending up checking all the boxes of a memorable historical fiction reading experience. Told in a dual narrative format, we meet Alina, a girl who is growing up in Poland during World War II and Alice, a mom who lives in present-day Florida with her husband and two children. We quickly realized that these two storylines are connected and the story unfolds beautifully over these 400+ pages.

“Not for the first time, I wish just once when I asked my grandmother about the war, instead of her telling me “that was a terrible time, I don’t want to talk about it,” she’d been able to say something more. Anything more. Maybe if she could have shared some of her story, I could have learned from it, I could have taught my children from it—we could have built a better world from the hard lessons she surely learned.”

― Kelly Rimmer, The  Things We Cannot Say

This was my first book by Kelly Rimmer and I was blown away by her ability to share multi-faceted characters that felt so real and raw while also diving into a heartbreaking part of our not so distant history.  I love the dual storylines and how they wove together and kept me guessing until the end. Rimmer captured the power of sharing our stories while also reminding us that so many people have a history we might know nothing about.

As well as being completely enthralled by Alina’s harrowing and heartbreaking time in Poland, I connected so much with present-day Alice and her struggles to find herself amidst the daily challenges of family life.

“I can’t wait to tell him how much of a revelation it has been to do something like this – standing on a mountaintop for no reason other than the sake of the experience. This moment is an investment in myself. I’m giving myself permission to make a memory that benefits no one but me. I love being a mother, and I love being a wife. I even love being a daughter and a granddaughter. But as I stand here on the mountaintop, I’m not any of those things. I am simply Alice, and for one breathtaking moment, I’m completely present.”

This book captures heartbreak, resilience, persistence and the power for standing up for what is right, not only for yourself but for those around you. This is definitely one of my favorite books of 2019 and I highly recommend it.

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo | Doubleday Books {Book Review}

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

Book Summary:

A dazzling, multigenerational novel in which the four adult daughters of a Chicago couple–still madly in love after forty years–recklessly ignite old rivalries until a long-buried secret threatens to shatter the lives they’ve built.

When Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson fall in love in the 1970s, they are blithely ignorant of all that’s to come. By 2016, their four radically different daughters are each in a state of unrest: Wendy, widowed young, soothes herself with booze and younger men; Violet, a litigator-turned-stay-at-home-mom, battles anxiety, and self-doubt when the darkest part of her past resurfaces; Liza, a neurotic and newly tenured professor, finds herself pregnant with a baby she’s not sure she wants by a man she’s not sure she loves; and Grace, the dawdling youngest daughter, begins living a lie that no one in her family even suspects. Above it all, the daughters share the lingering fear that they will never find a love quite like their parents’.

As the novel moves through the tumultuous year following the arrival of Jonah Bendt–given up by one of the daughters in a closed adoption fifteen years before–we are shown the rich and varied tapestry of the Sorenson’s past: years marred by adolescence, infidelity, and resentment, but also the transcendent moments of joy that make everything else worthwhile.

Spanning nearly half a century, and set against the quintessential American backdrop of Chicago and its prospering suburbs, Lombardo’s debut explores the triumphs and burdens of love, the fraught tethers of parenthood and sisterhood, and the baffling mixture of affection, abhorrence, resistance, and submission we feel for those closest to us. In painting this luminous portrait of a family’s becoming, Lombardo joins the ranks of writers such as Celeste Ng, Elizabeth Strout, and Jonathan Franzen as visionary chroniclers of our modern lives.”

Publication Date:

June 25, 2019

Genre:

Family Life Fiction

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁣

My Review:

I have read a lot of books this summer but none that really blew me away. A memorable book for me is one that keeps me thinking about it long after finishing it. Many of my book choices during this time of the year are easy and engaging but not always ones that stick with me forever. There is definitely a time and place for both of these types of reading and they each fill my reading bucket in very different ways.

I kept seeing The Most Fun We Ever Had on Bookstagram and I put it on my TBR list but I  wasn’t sure if summer was the time to read it. I was a little nervous about the length and I didn’t know if I was in the mood for a family saga piece of writing during this more hectic time of the year. After seeing yet another raving review I decided to read it on a whim and boy was I wrong!

When you are reading a 500+ page book it is a real commitment. Your reading experience is more like a marathon and just not a sprint to the finish. Author Claire Lombardo pulled me right into the lives of the members of the Sorrenson family and I had a hard time putting this one down. The writing was both captivating and completely absorbing. I ended up going back and forth between both reading the hard copy and listening to this on Audible. This made it an absolutely amazing and engrossing reading experience and was perfect for this style of writing.

While there were a lot of well-developed characters and the narration jumps back and forth from present (2016) to the past I never felt confused or that it was hard to keep track of it all. This is all such a testament to Lombardo’s skilled writing ability.

The story was compelling and the characters were both raw and relatable. I loved that their relationships with each other and themselves showed the intricacies of both families and just being human. The nuanced history and complexities of relationships that have spanned decades were presented in such a completely compelling manner. There were humorous parts and so many memorable quotes that I will never forget.

When I wasn’t reading or listening to this book I was thinking about it.  It was difficult to leave this fictional family at the end of my reading journey, which for me, makes this truly a remarkable read. I highly recommend this debut(!!) novel and I can’t wait to read what Lombardo shares next.

Coffee Talk | Currently Loving…Audiobooks at Work, Wireless Headphones, Barre Necessity & Fun at the Fair!

currently loving...

Checking-in:

Hello! How is your weekend going? I am sitting down with a big mug of coffee to write this and then I need to finish editing a wedding because we are leaving for MAINE tomorrow!!

Currently Loving…Audiobooks at Work!

During my heavy editing season audiobooks get me through the long hours of sitting at the computer. My work is heavily creative so I am able to listen while I work which is amazing! Speaking of audiobooks, I finished The Most Fun We Ever Had this past week which I alternated reading and listening too. I shared more over on Instagram but I think it might be my favorite book ever!

Audible book

 

I also decided to go the Audible route to help finish Red, White & Royal Blue and it is amazing on audio. I am hoping to finish it today. Have you read this yet? It has had some raving reviews and I can see why.

Wireless Headphones for the Win!

I had a lot of DMs about which headphones I have after I posted about them HERE.

I have the Tao Tronic wireless headphones. I got them last year after reading a lot of reviews and not being sure if I wanted to make a huge financial commitment. These are currently on sale for $39 and are awesome! I strongly dislike earbuds(and I can’t get them to stay in my ears) and I don’t care about whether I look cool or not, so they are great!

They have many uses which include listening to audiobooks and tuning out your noisy family. I also wear them at work when I am listening to a true-crime podcast because Kristy is afraid of them, ha! I also love wearing them around the house when I am vacuuming or putting away laundry…it makes the time fly by! I also love that I can listen to something without having my phone right next to me because I get less distracted by it that way.

Busy Season:

This last week has been a lot of tying up loose ends and finished all our work projects before we took a few days off. Summer in Vermont is short but intense and that means photography work here is similar. During the summer we are in a constant cycle of editing, lots of backend communication and sending out galleries and prints, etc. This does not even include all the work Kristy does to take the photos!

I am lucky to work with someone who is so organized because it is a lot to manage. Kristy recently set up whiteboards that look similar to the patient boards they have at hospital nursing stations, and it is fabulous!

Childcare in August…

The last couple of weeks before school usually mean that summer activities have ended and beloved babysitters have headed back to college! This means we did a lot of working with kids this week which is always a rollercoaster ride of emotions.

They were at home with me, at work with Lucas, spent some time with grandparents and also came to work with us at Kristy’s. Flynn’s mismatched shoes are a good representation of this past week inside my head, ha!

Summertime Self-care:

While I haven’t been going as regularly, barre is essential to my mental well being so I have been prioritizing that as much as possible. During the school year I go on my way to work but these days I go whenever I can get there, early morning, midday or afternoon classes.

This is probably good for me as I am a very routined person and it has pushed me out of my comfort zone a bit. I have met some new barre buddies which is always the best! I still freak out if I can’t go in my specific spot in the room though…baby steps!

Fitting in Reading:

I bring my kindle along with me during the day and read when I can but most of my reading during the summer happens in the evening. During the school year, I have a lot more chunks of alone time in between meetings, appointments and dropping off and picking up the kids. This time of the year, I AM NEVER ALONE, ha.

Kids Books We Love…

kids books

Julia Rothman Collection

Speaking of kids and reading, I get a lot of questions about how we get our kids to love reading. I am not an expert by any means but my love of reading came from being read to as a child and always having access to books.

I vividly remember riding my bike to the library and picking out whatever books I wanted to read…and then trying to figure out how to ride home while carrying them out without the foresight to bring a bag, ha!

(Ninjago | Dog Man | Pokemon Essential Guidebook | Frog & Toad Storybook Favorites | The Julia Rothman Collection )

So we have always read with our kids and had a lot of books around. We also try to be open-minded about what they want to read, even when the are into super annoying books like Pokemon, Lego and graphic novels like Dog Man and Hi-Lo. I know people have strong feelings about this but I a big believer in the idea that reading is reading even if some of it might not be “ideal”.

We try to enforce at least 20 minutes of reading time a day whether it is on their own or with us.  This has been a bit lax during the last couple of months but during the school year, it is a before bedtime requirement.

I had big plans to do a whole post about book suggestions that our kids love last spring and I never got around to it. I have big plans for September and I plan on sharing a more detailed post then!

Vermont Summer Living…

We have been embracing all the wonderful parts of this time of year while also looking forward to school starting again so we can get some of our regular structure back. Summer is great and school is too!

Addison County Fair & Field Days!

Speaking of embracing the wonderful parts of this year, I never posted about our trip to the fair! We visited the Addison County Fair last week which has been one of my summer traditions since I was a toddler myself. I love reminiscing about all my memories there while also seeing how much our kids love it. Lucas grew up in the big city of Burlington so he is still unsure about it all but I think it is growing on him. 😉

We planned accordingly so we could attend the Demotion Derby. We also had lots of fair food including fried Oreos. It was a pretty rainy week but this night ended up being just beautiful.

End of Summer Reading:

We have been soaking in all in and I have big reading planning to finish off our summer vacation. I am a last-minute packer but I have been thinking about what books I want to bring to Maine for weeks!! I think I have narrowed it down and I will keep you updated over at @genthebookworm.


I hope you have a wonderful rest of your weekend! <3