Next book

Things Unsaid


An engaging tale of family dysfunction and intractable senior citizens.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

A contemporary story follows three middle-aged siblings who struggle to care for their aging parents. 

In her debut novel, Paul (Women in Buddhism, 1985, etc.) narrates from the perspectives of Julia “Jules” Foster, Joanne Grant, and Andrew Whitman, the three grown children of Aida and Robert “Bob” Whitman. The novel opens as Jules is summoned to the local police station to retrieve her elderly parents after her father sideswipes a parked automobile and drives through a fence onto a soccer field. As she drives her parents back to Safe Harbour, their elegant assisted living facility, Jules fails to convince her father to acknowledge his diminished faculties and relinquish his license. She also confronts her parents about their mounting debts and her inability to support their extravagant lifestyle. Her parents rely heavily on her financial support, and she finds herself sacrificing the goals and dreams of her daughter, including a college education, to continue bankrolling her folks. As the book progresses, readers meet Joanne, the doting divorcée whom Aida always preferred over Jules, as well as Andrew, who refuses to send his parents so much as a Christmas present. Through many flashbacks and reflective moments, the siblings reveal that during their childhood, Aida was a selfish, overbearing mother with inappropriate behaviors and that Bob was aloof and sometimes cruel. Now that their flawed parents are incapable of caring for themselves, the siblings must decide where to draw the line between obligation and total martyrdom. Throughout the novel, the narrative bounces among the siblings, providing varying perspectives on the characters of Aida and Bob, as well as the multifaceted personal dilemmas facing each of the children they raised. With a grace that is absorbing and deft, Paul tackles many difficult questions, including filial responsibility, depression, marital strife, and sexual identity. She elucidates the challenges of caring for aging parents as well as the pain inherent in losing independence. The author depicts several heart-wrenching conundrums as the three siblings are forced repeatedly to evaluate their personal priorities. This book should particularly appeal to readers facing similar caretaking situations.

An engaging tale of family dysfunction and intractable senior citizens.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63152-812-5

Page Count: 270

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

Next book


Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.

In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-57722-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

Next book


Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

Close Quickview