By Sarah Pekkanen
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: 5/26/2015
My Rating: 5 Stars
In this timely and provocative novel, internationally bestselling author Sarah Pekkanen takes us inside a family in crisis and a marriage on the brink after a tragic shooting.
How far would you go to save your family?
Every morning, as her husband Mike straps on his SIG Sauer and pulls on his heavy Magnum boots, Jamie Anderson tenses up. Then comes the call she has always dreaded: There's been a shooting at police headquarters. Mike isn't hurt, but his long-time partner is grievously injured. As weeks pass and her husband's insomnia and disconnectedness mount, Jamie realizes he is an invisible casualty of the attack. Then the phone rings again. Another shooting but this time Mike has pulled the trigger.
But the shooting does more than just alter Jamie's world. It's about to change everything for two other women. Christie Simmons, Mike's flamboyant ex, sees the tragedy as an opportunity for a second chance with Mike. And Jamie's younger sister, Lou, must face her own losses to help the big sister who raised her. As the press descends and public cries of police brutality swell, Jamie tries desperately to hold together her family, no matter what it takes.
In her characteristic exploration of true-to-life relationships, Sarah Pekkanen has written a complex, compelling, and openhearted novel her best yet.
A special thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
THINGS YOU WON'T SAY is Sarah Pekkanen's "best work" thus far; she keeps getting better and better--if this is even possible!
An avid fan for many years, having read all of Sarah's books--she has always had a "thumb" on modern day relationships and parenting, and interjects plenty of wit and humor, wisdom, and inspiration; tackling single life, marriage, extended family, ex-wives, careers, divorce, and other contemporary issues, like no other, appealing to a wide audience of women.
In her latest compelling novel, the ongoing theme is parenting and communication, with three very different women: Jamie, Lou, and Christie; however, as an added bonus, Pekkanen tackles some highly-charged emotional topics, crossing genres with racial, police procedural, a shooting, mystery/crime, firearms, motherhood, teens, family bonds, and emotional human dynamics--making THINGS YOU WON'T SAY a gripping, and thought-provoking suspenseful read, with well-developed characters, keeping you glued to the pages for hours.
Jamie, age thirty-two, is a mother of three children; Sam (age eight), Eloise (age three), and Emily (age six). She is a busy mom and married to a cop, Mike. Years ago, before meeting Jamie, Mike had a relationship with Christie and they have a teenage son, Henry, sharing joint custody. Jamie is a wonderful step mom to Henry, unfortunately, Christie is always in their life and most of the time, not a plus – now she is a character!
Recently things have been stressed, as Mike’s best friend and partner, Ritchie was shot in the line of duty, and will never be the same. Mike has much guilt as his friend walked out the door a step ahead of his partner, and he was not hurt.
To further complicate matters, Mike goes back to work after the incident, with PTSD, and now in the middle of an investigation when he shoots a Hispanic teenager trying to protect another fellow cop partner, breaking up a gang fight. However, all fingers and blame at pointed at Mike, since they cannot prove the teen had a gun.
Jamie has always been the protector of the family – her husband, and children; however, now she cannot fix their life this time and her marriage is falling apart. Jamie, the narrator seeks desperately to save her family and her marriage. However, she has to deal with the ex- Christie, who is totally the opposite, dressing provocatively, not a very responsible parent, acts impulsively, and happens to be there to support Mike and believes in his innocence when Emily has doubts. No one seems to be communicating.
Christie brings so much fun to the book, as you will laugh out loud. She never fits in, and always getting into trouble. She gets a new job working for a PI, and going undercover to help weed out cheating husbands. She is hilarious and at the same time she is the one who steps up to help Mike. Of course, she would like to have Mike for herself and uses Henry, her son sometimes to get close to him.
With much friction from the two different women, readers get to see two opposite women in a realistic situation.Personally, I have been the wife, mother, the ex-wife, step-mom, and had to deal with ex-wives; not fun, so had to laugh at some of the things which were right on—how a lack of communication can lead you to ponder, things are not always as they appear.
Lou, the single sister, of Jamie is another major part of the story. Poor Lou is not a girly girl, and works for a zoo, as a full time animal keeper, and loves her job-she is not cut out to work in an office. She also works a second job at a coffee shop, to pay the bills.
She would rather sleep with the animals if she could. The guy she lives with has dumped her for another girl and all the while she still lives in the same apartment with him. Awkward! You feel so bad for her as she is run out of her own house, and the roommate she hooks up with is horrible, and then she takes time off from her job to help her sister, and at the same time she is there with love, passion, and devotion with her beloved elephant, Tabitha when giving birth. All three women connect in some ways with a powerful motherhood bond, making each woman unique in their own way.
Pekkanen can write chick-lit, humor, and women's contemporary fiction, like a rock star, right up there with Jennifer Weiner and Emily Giffin; however, with her latest, she has moved up next to Jodi Picoult, delivering a complex portrayal and exploration of human emotions with much depth and sensitivity, appealing to fans of all three authors with her latest "must read!."
Fans of Picoult's Leaving Time will enjoy the elephant/human motherhood connection. I enjoyed reading about the inspiration behind the book, and Christie's character was SO MUCH FUN--keeping me laughing throughout the book!
An ideal choice for book clubs and group discussions, with a detailed readers club guide included. Well-done, Sarah, another winner-highly recommend!
About the Author
"Fans of Jennifer Weiner and Emily Giffin will strongly appreciate this rising star in women's fiction." - Library Journal.
Internationally bestselling author Sarah Pekkanen's newest book is THINGS YOU WON'T SAY (May 2015, Atria/Simon & Schuster).
Atria published Sarah’s subsequent novels Skipping a Beat, These Girls, The Best of Us and Catching Air. Rights to Sarah’s books are sold in China, Australia, Germany, Italy, Holland, Poland, Canada, Russia and Spain and her novels have become international bestsellers.
Sarah’s sixth novel, Things You Won’t Say, will be published May 26, 2015. She is currently at work on her seventh novel, which will be published in the spring of 2016.
Sarah is the mother of three young boys, which explains why she writes part of her novels at Chuck E. Cheese. Website Twitter @sarahpekkanen