The Things We Don’t Say
The Things We Don’t Say by Carmen Monica Oprea was an enjoyable read. Told from the perspective of Isabella D’Argentino, the reader follows Isabella’s life subsequent to her 13th birthday. Sadly, Isabella’s mother, Tara, passed away at her birth. Therefore, Isabella has been raised by her father, Luca, owner of a prestigious vintage store in Annecy, France. Although Isabella adores her father, she often wonders what life would be like to live with a mother.
The one glimpse of Tara Isabella has left in her life is through her letters. Every year on her birthday, Luca gifts Isabella a letter that Tara wrote to her before she passed away. Always a moment cherished by Isabella, she is in for a surprise when she reads Tara’s letter this year. She has tasked Isabella with a huge request – to find one of Luca’s college friends and reunite them. This friend had previously been the platonic love of Luca’s life, and unfortunately, Tara’s relationship got in the way of that. Tara pleads with her daughter to locate this friend, for it is up to her to bring happiness back into her father’s life.
Isabella is initially overwhelmed by this task. After all, she is only thirteen years old and has been asked to find someone her father hasn’t spoken to since college. However, with the help of her grandfather, Isabella begins this journey of reuniting past friendships, a messier experience than she imagined.
Isabella’s story was complicated but exceptionally well-thought-out. I thought Oprea did a fantastic job with the plot. It had many moving parts and complexities, but she did a great job of making everything work out in the end.
I think she also did a great job of tailoring this book for a younger audience. I would have really enjoyed reading this novel about the same age as Isabella, and I enjoyed it now as an adult. However, my main concern came with the dialogue from Isabella herself. I found her vocabulary and way of speaking to flow unnaturally. Isabella’s reactions and dialogue in this novel seemed authored, not authentic. Although the plot itself was superb, I wish Isabella’s character had mirrored what an actual thirteen-year-old girl sounds like and thinks of.
Overall, despite improvements, I thought The Things We Don’t Say was an excellent story. I would recommend it to middle school or junior high-aged girls, especially between ages eleven to fifteen.
Purchase it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BMDFF6B2
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