Book Review: All The Things We Never Said
All The Things We Never Said
Written by Yasmin Rahman
Published by Hot Key Books
Publication date: July 2019
Summary ( from Goodreads):
16-year-old Mehreen Miah’s anxiety and depression, or ‘Chaos’, as she calls it, has taken over her life, to the point where she can’t bear it any more. So she joins MementoMori, a website that matches people with partners and allocates them a date and method of death, ‘the pact’. Mehreen is paired with Cara Saunders and Olivia Castleton, two strangers dealing with their own serious issues.
As they secretly meet over the coming days, Mehreen develops a strong bond with Cara and Olivia, the only people who seem to understand what she’s going through. But ironically, the thing that brought them together to commit suicide has also created a mutually supportive friendship that makes them realise that, with the right help, life is worth living. It’s not long before all three want out of the pact. But in a terrifying twist of fate, the website won’t let them stop, and an increasingly sinister game begins, with MementoMori playing the girls off against each other.
A pact is a pact, after all.
In this powerful debut written in three points of view, Yasmin Rahman has created a moving, poignant novel celebrating life. ALL THE THINGS WE NEVER SAID is about friendship, strength and survival.
Trigger warnings for self-harm, sexual abuse, rape, depression and suicide.
I feel like there’s something wrong with me: something completely and utterly unfixable. I just want to live a life where I don’t keep being overwhelmed by sadness. Where I don’t suddenly feel like someone has punched me in the gut and I can’t breathe, can’t think, can’t see – when my head is so crammed with worry that I can’t even focus on what I’m doing, who I’m with, or even whether I’m breathing. I’m fed up of feeling like this, of being continuously battered by what I call ‘ the Chaos. I want my brain to slow down, to just…be normal. I need something to live for, Allah, because right now the only thing keeping me here is you. And I’m starting to feel like that’s not enough.
First impressions: Honestly, I picked this up without knowing much about it. My attention was initially caught by the author’s name and the title, then the blurb drew me in. While I don’t necessarily read a lot of contemporary YA or seek it out, I am glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone to read this as I feel like it is a book that will stay with me for a long time.
Usually, when I finish a book I want to immediately read the next one. Yet, after reading this book I first had to take some time just to think through what I had read and what might happen next for the characters. Writing book reviews is also something that I find tricky, particularly when I have really loved and been immersed in a book as with All the Things We Never Said. Yet, once again, I just had to write a review for this book to share it with more people because I truly believe that reading this could change you for the better and that this book could be an essential lifeline for anyone dealing with some of these or similar issues.
This book was entirely convincing and, ultimately, hopeful, even with the very real issues each character is dealing with. I had to take several breaks while reading the last few chapters as I was so painfully invested in each one of the girls coming out of their challenges in one piece, mentally, emotionally and physically.
An absolutely stunning and heartfelt debut with characters who will remain lodged in your heart and mind long after you have closed the final page.
Such a simple word,
But such a
I’ve never been an us before
Never been a we.
Never had someone want to help
as much as Mehreen does.
What I liked: How individual and believable each character is, how they are are effortlessly inter-sectional and realistic without labouring a point, how the adults are shown as just as fallible and unsure as the teenagers, yet they are present in their daughter’s lives and try to do the right things
Even better if: One of the characters, Cara, makes derogatory comments about ‘invisible illnesses’ and how she dislikes people ‘fussing’ about them because it’s much worse to be in a wheelchair like her. I have seen several reviewers who felt disappointed that her attitudes weren’t challenged or addressed, as this misconception that an ‘invisible’ illness is any less difficult to deal with than a visible one, can be very hurtful.
How you could use it in your classroom: A book like this should be used with sensitivity and caution as there are many issues which could trigger painful memories for those reading it. However, that is not to say that we should shy away from recommending or discussing this book because it is really important for people to see themselves or aspects of themselves in the books they read so that they know that they are not alone. Awareness can also help us to be more understanding of others and the importance of mental health.
(Thank you to my lovely library for ordering in a copy for me!)
What did other people think?
Charlotte from @CharlotteReadsThings said:
“I loved the early scenes of the trio together where they are just getting to know each other and understanding each other’s lives. Mehreen talks a lot about her anxiety as “chaos” and this was something I could really relate to. I just admired the way these girls were, despite the circumstances, able to find someone they could open up to.”
Aislinn @MuchAdoAboutBooks said:
“The emphasis on friendship, support, and recovery makes this book a beautiful, heart-breaking read which deserves a place in the annals of important UKYA. I also look forward to seeing what Yasmin Rahman does next – clearly a very talented author, I expect great things to come.”
Meg @Bibliophilogy said:
“I loved these girls, coming together, though different ethnicity and religions, they truly embrace one another and treat the others like their equal and nothing less.”
While you’re here, why not check out my reviews of The Circus, Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index, Summer Bird Blue, Nocturna, The Wise and the Wicked, Sunflowers in Feburary, Crown of Feathers, Love, Hate and Other Filters or The Deepest Breath?
Thanks for reading!