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Things You Can't Say

Jenn Bishop

Hardcover

List Price: 17.99*
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Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (3/2/2021)

Description

Perfect for fans of See You in the Cosmos and Where the Watermelons Grow, author Jenn Bishop's latest novel tells the moving story of a boy determined to uncover the truth.

Nothing is going right this summer for Drew. And after losing his dad unexpectedly three years ago, Drew knows a lot about things not going right. First, it’s the new girl Audrey taking over everything at the library, Drew’s sacred space. Then it’s his best friend, Filipe, pulling away from him. But most upsetting has to be the mysterious man who is suddenly staying with Drew’s family. An old friend of Mom’s? Drew isn’t buying that.

With an unlikely ally in Audrey, he’s determined to get to the bottom of who this man really is. The thing is, there are some fears—like what if the person you thought was your dad actually wasn’t—that you can’t speak out loud, not to anyone. At least that’s what Drew thinks.

But then again, first impressions can be deceiving.


Praise For Things You Can't Say

“As Things You Can't Say shows the gaping fissures that loss and grief can cause in a kiddo's life, so too does it show how those same fissures may begin to heal and close. That we are rooting so hard for their closing in Andrew's life is a measure of how wonderfully real and honest this story is, and of how deep our need is for just the right words.” —Gary D. Schmidt, Newbery Honor Winner and National Book Award Finalist

“With grit and authenticity, Bishop takes us inside the head and heart of a young boy. Be prepared to laugh, cry, cheer, and turn the last page with a satisfying sigh." —Barbara O'Connor, author of Wonderland

“This touching, authentic novel will open readers’ eyes and hearts about mental health issues in loving, ‘normal’ families. Jenn Bishop explores a challenging subject with sensitivity and grace.” —Barbara Dee, author of Maybe He Just Likes You

"People who go away forever. People who come out of nowhere. People who drift away and then drift back. Three years after the death of his father, young Drew finds a way to make peace with all these sorts of people. An emotional tale of a boy who finds it takes equal measures of courage to move forward and to look back.” —Paul Mosier, author of Echo's Sister

"There is so much that 12-year-old Drew can't say. He can't ask his mom why, three years ago, his seemingly happy father killed himself. He can't ask her why an old friend of hers, Phil, has suddenly shown up on his motorcycle and completely disrupted Drew's life or whether or not, as he's begun to suspect, that man is his real father. He can't quite bring himself to tell prickly Audrey, the new helper at the library where he volunteers all summer, that he's starting to really like her. And he can't tell his best friend, Filipe, any of the things that are really on his mind. Perhaps, the biggest thing he can't communicate is that he's terrified that whatever was wrong with his father could be haunting his future, too. In this believable, character-driven exploration of the long-lasting shadow suicide casts, Bishop imbues Drew, his loving mother, and Audrey with just enough insight to make their efforts to support each other fully believable. Drew's emerging anger with his father is both poignant and tragically appropriate. Drew's present-tense narration is candid and vulnerable, offering readers both mirrors for and windows to this particular, very difficult experience. The cast defaults to white. An author's note discusses suicide and, together with an appended list of resources, offers direction for readers in search of support; in the acknowledgments, Bishop briefly describes her research. A thoughtful examination of the slow, uneven recovery that follows a devastating loss. (Fiction. 10-14)" Kirkus Reviews

There is so much that 12-year-old Drew can't say.He can't ask his mom why, three years ago, his seemingly happy father killed himself. He can't ask her why an old friend of hers, Phil, has suddenly shown up on his motorcycle and completely disrupted Drew's life or whether or not, as he's begun to suspect, that man is his real father. He can't quite bring himself to tell prickly Audrey, the new helper at the library where he volunteers all summer, that he's starting to really like her. And he can't tell his best friend, Filipe, any of the things that are really on his mind. Perhaps, the biggest thing he can't communicate is that he's terrified that whatever was wrong with his father could be haunting his future, too. In this believable, character-driven exploration of the long-lasting shadow suicide casts, Bishop imbues Drew, his loving mother, and Audrey with just enough insight to make their efforts to support each other fully believable. Drew's emerging anger with his father is both poignant and tragically appropriate. Drew's present-tense narration is candid and vulnerable, offering readers both mirrors for and windows to this particular, very difficult experience. The cast defaults to white. An author's note discusses suicide and, together with an appended list of resources, offers direction for readers in search of support; in the acknowledgments, Bishop briefly describes her research. A thoughtful examination of the slow, uneven recovery that follows a devastating loss. (Fiction. 10-14) 
— Kirkus Reviews

This thoughtfully written story shows how difficult it can be for a sensitive boy to open up to others about what's troubling him. Drew's father died of suicide when Drew was nine. Three years later, Drew and his mom still haven't talked about it. He finds refuge volunteering at the public library, but when new girl Audrey appears, Drew thinks she's there to replace him. Gradually, they become friends; Drew even develops a crush on her but is afraid to tell her. When his best friend Filipe starts hanging out with an older kid from school, Drew feels left out but doesn't confront Filipe. Initially, Drew is suspicious and resentful when Phil, a high-school friend of his mom's, unexpectedly arrives for a few days. But, Phil's genuine interest in him leads Drew to wonder if Phil is his real father. In her third middle-grade novel (14 Hollow Road, 2017) Bishop realistically depicts Drew's anger and hurt over his father's death. A sensitive exploration of suicide, forgiveness, and the difficulty of navigating friendships.
— Booklist

Bishop, Jenn

Things You Can't Say

2020. 336pp. $17.99. hc. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. 9781534440975. Grades 6-8

While many kids won’t feel quite as isolated or as stuck as Drew, whose father tragically committed suicide three years ago, the inability to talk about deep emotional grief is a topic that will resonate and is deftly handled here. It’s summer, and Drew’s best friend is becoming more athletic and popular, his semi-volunteer gig at the library has been invaded by a new girl in town, and, worst of all, Mom has invited some guy to visit without letting him or his little brother know. Drew, who has been the man of the family since his father's death, has a lot to say, but no good avenue to express himself. The results are predictable; yet, as Drew works through each of these relationships, the author never takes it over the top. The guy visiting is an old friend of his father and yet his mother does seem to be attracted to him. It's all real-world stuff, with the possible exception of one or two hoop shots with friend Filipe. There are a lot of library scenes fittingly woven into the narrative. Drew puts on puppet shows and watches the children’s department when the children’s librarian is away, and his mother also works there. Interlibrary loans play a role in the plot as well. Although Drew’s family situation is unique, his instinct to close off and not express his true feelings or ask questions will be universally recognized. Carol Edwards, Retired Librarian, Littleton, Colorado

Recommended
— School Library Connection

The children’s room in the library is 12-year-old Drew’s happy place, where he does puppet shows for younger kids without any peers around to make fun—until new kid Audrey, also 12, shows up and takes over the room. If that’s not enough to ruin his summer, his best friend, Felipe, has grown distant, and Phil, an old friend of Drew’s mother, suddenly arrives for a visit. It’s been three years since Drew’s father committed suicide, and Phil’s arrival raises a lot of questions. Drew worries that he’s headed in the same direction as his father, who seemed happy until his death, and he wonders if Phil could be his real father (he certainly knows a lot about Drew’s family). As Audrey and Drew become friendly, she helps him find information, but knowing more doesn’t make anything less confusing. In a story about the aftermath of parental suicide, former children’s librarian Bishop (14 Hollow Road) tells a touching and believable story about the ways worries feed on each other, the difference that honesty makes to kids, and how much emotional growth a child Drew’s age can experience in just a few weeks. Ages 8–12. Agent: Katie Grimm, Don Congdon Assoc. (Mar.)
— Publishers Weekly

Twelve-year-old Drew has spent his summers volunteering at the library since his dad died by suicide three years ago. This summer, though, he finds he’s growing distant from his best friend Filipe and reluctantly developing a friendship (and maybe more) with Audrey, the new children’s department volunteer. On top of that, Mom’s high school friend Phil, a motorcycle-riding, early-morning exercise kind of guy who makes Mom blush, will be staying with them for a few days. Drew’s hurt and desperate for answers, but he’s not sure how, or to whom, he can talk about his feelings. With a deft, sympathetic hand, Bishop relates Drew’s struggles to define his own identity while coming to terms with the man his father was. Drew’s misguided quest to prove that Phil is his birth dad is a form of closure; he’s scared he might have inherited his father’s mental illness and worried that he, too, might be hiding potential to hurt the people he loves. While Phil isn’t Drew’s father, he turns out to be Dad’s best friend and Mom’s high school sweetheart; by drawing on memories, Bishop develops all three adults as characters without vilifying Drew’s father. That pays off when the time comes for difficult, honest conversations that respect Drew’s maturity but acknowledge the difficulties he’s experienced on being thrust into a situation he wasn’t emotionally prepared to face. The ending sets the scene for future healing, reminding readers young and old of the value of communication.  AMM
— BCCB

Aladdin, 9781534440975, 336pp.

Publication Date: March 3, 2020



About the Author

Jenn Bishop is the author of the middle grade novels 14 Hollow RoadThe Distance to Home, which was a Junior Library Guild selection and a Bank Street College Best Children’s Book; Things You Can’t Say; and Where We Used to Roam. She grew up in New England, where she fell in love with the ocean, Del’s frozen lemonade, and the Boston Red Sox before escaping to college at the University of Chicago. After working as a teen and children’s librarian, she received her MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Jenn currently calls Cincinnati, Ohio, home. Visit her online at JennBishop.com.