Preteen girl looking at a cell phone with her parents

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Parents' Guide to

Things You Can't Say

By Joly Herman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Compelling story of tween grappling with his dad's suicide.

Things You Can't Say Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 1 parent review

age 13+


It was a good educational book!

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (1 ):

This is a compelling story of a 12-year-old sorting out his father's suicide while figuring out friends and family history during a summer in Rhode Island. Things You Can't Say explores the sense of anger and betrayal that suicide leaves behind, against a backdrop of kids streaming down the stairs to hear his stories, and a possibly cool girl who's volunteering with Drew at the library. Drew's honest voice digs into painful questions: Was his dad lying to him about loving him? Why did he abandon them? Was he ever really happy? And who is this "old friend" his mom is so interested in, anyway? An old boyfriend? A secret relative?

Kids will enjoy the realistic narrative that Drew runs in his head. There are lots of things he thinks, but not so many that he actually says. And when he does express himself, some of his words and reactions come out sounding rude, which feels right for this age group. What doesn't quite fit is a gap in the family history that seems unlikely (spoiler alert: when and where his parents met). It's a small glitch in an otherwise realistic portrayal. This is a relatable story about surviving a devastating event and how life goes on despite the tragedies people endure.

Book Details

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