Title: What I Didn’t Say
Author: Keary Taylor
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date: May 2012 (I received this book as a digital ARC from NetGalley)
Rating: 2.5 stars
Synopsis (from goodreads):
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.
There are few things that anger me more than drunk drivers so it was great to see a story that revolves around the consequences of a drunken night’s antics.
Jake Hayes, football player and amateur pilot, dreams of leaving the tiny island of Orcas and joining the air force. And of telling the girl of his dreams, Samantha Shay, that he loves her. After four years of Jake swooning after Sam, Jake’s best mates are sick of his unrequited crush and after some liquid courage they all get into a car and plan to tell Sam how Jake truly feels about her.
Teenage boys, beer and a midnight drive aren’t the best combination and the car almost hits a deer, Jake grabs the wheel and swerves to avoid it… Good news is that they missed the animal but bad news is that they crash and a T post lodges itself through Jake’s throat. He wakes up in hospital three days later to find out that his voice box has been severely damaged in the accident and as a result the doctors had no choice but to remove it.
Jake’s entire life changes in the blink of an eye – no more air force and now he will never be able to tell the girl of his dreams that he loves her. But as Jake has to adjust to his new way of living he realizes that there are worse things than injury in life and that there’s more to lose than just his voice.
I liked Jake. He’s a good guy who cares for his family and friends and tries to do his family proud. I wasn’t sure I’d like his relationship with Sam – it seemed a bit like one-sided instalove for no reason but as I kept reading I could see that it was based on more and there were true feelings between Jake and Sam.
The struggle that Jake goes through after his accident and comes to grip with being mute was nicely written. Things aren’t easy for Jake and he has to deal with a lot – not just how others now treat him differently but how he views himself now that so much of his former life now seems off-limits.
I have to admit I wasn’t quite sure why losing his voice meant that Jake couldn’t fly any more. I thought that if he was really passionate and dedicated to his flying then they could have found some sort of compromise or system to keep him in the air.
Jake kept mentioning how small the island was and how everybody knew everybody else and there were no secrets amongst the islanders. However Sam’s living situation went unnoticed by everyone for months. I felt like someone somewhere should have noticed what was happening – especially after Jake’s mother questioned him about her eating habits but still no one tried to get in contact with Sam’s mother?
This is a sweet story about loss, physical and emotional, and first love.
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