About the Book
Book: Things We Didn’t Say
Author: Amy Lynn Green
Release Date: November 3, 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction
Headstrong Johanna Berglund, a linguistics student at the University of Minnesota, has very definite plans for her future . . . plans that do not include returning to her hometown and the secrets and heartaches she left behind there. But the US Army wants her to work as a translator at a nearby camp for German POWs.
Johanna arrives to find the once-sleepy town exploding with hostility. Most patriotic citizens want nothing to do with German soldiers laboring in their fields, and they’re not afraid to criticize those who work at the camp as well. When Johanna describes the trouble to her friend Peter Ito, a language instructor at a school for military intelligence officers, he encourages her to give the town that rejected her a second chance.
As Johanna interacts with the men of the camp and censors their letters home, she begins to see the prisoners in a more sympathetic light. But advocating for better treatment makes her enemies in the community, especially when charismatic German spokesman Stefan Werner begins to show interest in Johanna and her work. The longer Johanna wages her home-front battle, the more the lines between compassion and treason become blurred–and it’s no longer clear whom she can trust.
Things We Didn’t Say by Amy Lynn Green is a remarkable debut novel. The first thing that drew me into this story is the formatting. I knew that this book was written in epistolary form and was prepared for that storytelling journey, but what I really loved and appreciated is that this story isn’t a typical epistolary narrative– when the reader opens the cover of this book and begins to dig into the pages of this story, the reader is moving through an evidence folder that tells the story of a woman on trial for treason via letters, notes, newspaper articles, and other personal documents. It’s like an epistolary novel squared. What a cool way to tell a story! And I was there for every minute. This book hooked me from page one and would not let me go. This highly engaging story kept me turning pages well past midnight several nights in a row. I really like how Amy Lynn Green writes. Her sentences are varied and beautiful and flow seamlessly. I so appreciate good writing! I loved how much depth of character Green is able to create through simple letters, notes, and news articles. What great storytelling! The characters are my favorite aspect to this story. Peter Ito is a fantastic hero. I love how he is never afraid to tell Johanna the truth even if it may rub her wrong at first. He is a straight-shooter and, boy, do we need more people like Peter around today. Johanna is an excellent character. She is complex. She is highly intelligent. She is very confident. She is really naïve. And she is willing to change once she realizes a negative about her character. There were moments I struggled with her. As an older lady, I wanted to shake her and say, “Stop being so self-focused. Look up and see the actual world around you, you’re being played!” I remember being 22 and I was basically the same as Johanna. I was young, healthy, college-smart, and confident in my plans for my future. Then life hit me and knocked me around some and I realized I was just a young, naïve, self-focused young lady and I had a lot of growing still to do. A lot of that growing included learning humility. Don’t get me wrong, Johanna is a wonderful, well-meaning young lady. She is kind. She is strong in her morality. She fights for what is right. But she is myopic and inexperienced, and this gets her in trouble. As far as her trouble goes, I was angry by the situation. I was angry at the biased news-telling. The sensationalism created on purpose by the newspaper man made me want to punch his character. But I was also angry at how easy it was for the people of Ironside to become so mean and ugly because of the sensationalism. It’s such a telling commentary on today’s Society. It very much feels like truth no longer matters because people WANT to be mean, angry, and contentious. They want to fight. They want to hurt. They want war. It makes me so sad. I definitely had a lot of feels with this excellent story!
I am sorry it took me so long to get to this wonderful story, but I am so glad I got there eventually. Things We Didn’t Say is a seriously good story that I highly, highly recommend. If you have not yet read this stellar story, then I recommend purchasing as copy and diving in ASAP!
I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Bethany House, via NetGalley. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.