July 16, 2012

Review: What I Didn’t Say by Keary Taylor


In case you didn't notice, I’ve been reading a lot of YA/New Adult books and Amazon keeps recommending new titles to me. That’s how I came across What I Didn’t Say. It had an original premise and it was told from the hero’s POV, so I decided to get it.

Jake Hayes dreams of three things: leaving the small island he calls home, flying planes and Samantha Shay. The first two dreams are related, he yearns to fly and see the world and and to do so, he plans to join the Air Force once he graduates from High School. His other passion is Samantha, the girl he’s been in love with since he first met her. The problem is that she doesn’t know it, he’s not even sure she knows him, and he’s too afraid to do anything about it. So life goes by and Jake keeps counting the days until the Air Force.
  
One night he gets drunk and decides to end his misery. He and his friends take a car and drive to Samantha’s house so he can finally proclaim his undying love for her. But tragedy gets in the way –or I should say a deer— and they crash. A pole goes through his throat leaving him mute. The accident not only leaves him without voice, it also leaves him without dreams and without a love declaration. And now it’s up to him and the entire community to help him get through it. Or maybe not. Considering how well he adjusts, one would think nothing really happened to him. It takes him two minutes to figure out that he prefers the girl and it doesn’t matter his dream is over because love cures it all, right?  

I was expecting a story about a boy whose dreams end and has to learn to adapt, communicate and eventually find new dreams and move on. I was expecting the whole book to be about his journey to recovery and healing. Instead, I got a story about a boy that has an accident and recovers so fast, he not once truly mourns the lost voice and career. Jake was robotically flat about the whole deal, not because he was in shock, but because his actions and reactions were devoid of emotion throughout the entire book. When he was learning how to deal with his new circumstances, a learning process that doesn’t take long, he talked about how he felt impotence and anger, but I didn’t believe he actually felt that way. The emotion didn’t come through to me as a reader.

The romance was sweet, but it bothered me how big a role it played in Jake’s recovery. Samantha becomes his focus, the most important part of his life, the only part of his life. He doesn’t mind much about not being able to join the Air Force because he has her. In fact, not being able to tell her he loves her, affect him more than not being able to fly again. One person can’t be your whole life. Love can help you get better, but in the end you must heal because you want it for yourself. This is not a good message, especially not in YA. 

There was also an aspect of their relationship that didn’t make much sense. They kiss and sleep together, but they don’t have sex. I have no problem with this, I’m actually happy they didn’t have sex, but they don’t discuss it either. They don’t talk about being ready or taking the next step; there’s no comment about getting carried away; they just stop without any type of struggle. 

I was also extremely bothered by how they treat one of the secondary characters. She’s the girl who has sex with everyone and tries to seduce the hero, as opposed to virginal Samantha who’s all good and studious. They call her Nora the Whora and every time I read that nickname I cringed. Predictably enough, Nora ultimately becomes the villain. I think there’s a message in there about sex (just as there’s a message about irresponsible and underage drinking), but the execution was off.

Half the story is about Samantha, in fact, the second half of the book is all about her. I won't spoil the book with details, but this part was so unrealistic it was borderline ridiculous. I can suspend disbelief when the story is engrossing enough to make me forget –or at least look the other way— that what I’m reading is unbelievable, but the story failed to engage me and I spent the whole time focusing on how out there the situation was.  

I’m disappointed because this book had so much potential. Ms. Taylor has a great voice, the main idea was original and fresh and parts of the story were cute and romantic. But it’s also seriously flawed and filled with missed opportunities. 

Review by Brie
Grade: 2
Sensuality: McPrude
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

Getting drunk homecoming night your senior year is never a good idea, but Jake Hayes never expected it all to end with a car crash and a t-post embedded in his throat.  
His biggest regret about it all? What he never said to Samantha Shay. He's been in love with her for years and never had the guts to tell her. Now it's too late. Because after that night, Jake will never be able to talk again. 
When Jake returns to his small island home, population 5,000, he'll have to learn how to deal with being mute. He also finds that his family isn't limited to his six brothers and sisters, that sometimes an entire island is watching out for you. And when he gets the chance to spend more time with Samantha, she'll help him learn that not being able to talk isn’t the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Maybe, if she'll let him, Jake will finally tell her what he didn't say before, even if he can't actually say it.

Keary Taylor. April 30, 2012

6 comments:

  1. I also cringed about Norah-I hated her portrayal and the way everyone in the book treated her. But I actually really liked the romance and the way Jake and Sam's relationship grew and matured.

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    1. It made me cringe because everyone was portrayed as cute and good, nice friends, nice family, nice town, etc. But suddenly you have them treating this character like crap, it was out of character.

      I think I'm in the minority here, I've yet to read a negative review of the book. I guess it just didn't work for me. I'm glad you enjoyed it, though!

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  2. Um....the whole concept is a bit weird for me. And based on yoru review I'd never pick this up. How can someone adjut so quickly to having their dreams crushed and their voice taken just because of a girl.

    If anything I'd think there would be a little resentment that on my way to declare my love to that particular person I ended up losing everything I'd ever hoped for.

    Just sounds unrealistic with under developed characters. Thanks for the review, I know to steer clear of this one.

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    1. He once feels a tiny bit of resentment, there's a scene but the it cuts to another scene and he's happy and in love once again...

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  3. This one definitely sounds like one with a lot of potential. I just recently read a glowing review of it, but it also seems like one that I might get at the library, or watch for it to go on sale for Nook. Your review is really honest and fair!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

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    1. Let me know if you read it, I'm curious to hear your thoughts. So far I'm the only one who hasn't liked it so maybe you will enjoy it ;-)

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