Everything I’ve Never Said – Samantha Wheeler – University of Queensland Press – Published 1 October 2018
Ava would like nothing more than to tell her family she loves them, particularly her big sister, Nic. But Ava has Rett syndrome – she can’t talk, can’t nod her head, can’t even point at a communication card. She understands everything, but no one understands her.
When tragedy strikes her family, Ava becomes even more determined to talk. But it’s not until she meets occupational therapist Kieran and new friend Aimee that she is hopeful for change – and to find her voice at last.
Everything I’ve Never Said is beautifully written and so very easily captured my heart. I loved the idea – giving voice to the voiceless, and the honest, heartfelt truth and reality behind the words is undeniable.
Ava would love to talk to her family. She’d love to tell them she likes pink not purple. She’d love to say that she would rather watch teen movies than kid shows. And she’d really love to tell them that she loves them. But Ava has Rett syndrome and so Ava can’t move her body the way she would like to, can’t nod, blink, wave and certainly can’t talk. When tragedy strikes her family and throws life into chaos, Ava knows she must talk, must help save her family. With the help of new friends, Kieran and Aimee, Ava just might have the chance to find her voice and tell the world, tell her family, everything she’s always wanted to say.
Everything I’ve Never Said is a beautiful book, a beautiful story. Gosh, I loved Ava. What a character. And Wheeler just brings her to life like she’s sitting right next to you. With the benefit of first person narration, the reader is positioned inside Ava’s world and head, allowing her to share everything she can’t speak aloud, from her frustration with not being able to communicate and distaste of her teacher, to her love for her family and desire to say sorry, or please or thank you or no thank you.
I loved that this book also captures the relationship between Ava and her sister. Often traumatic but sometimes surprising and sweet, the complicated love-fight dynamic, only made harder without a clear line of communication, between Ava and Nic was such a key part of the book.
I’ve had the privilege of hearing Samantha Wheeler give an author talk. Her engagement with the audience (even when that audience didn’t exactly fit her target reading group), her love of sharing important stories and her attention to detail and commitment to research were all very impressive. I was so excited to learn of Everything I’ve Never Said and so very glad I had the privilege to read it. It is a story close to Wheeler’s heart and personal experience and that shines through every carefully written and beautifully constructed page.
Everything I’ve Never Said is a powerful book. It fits perfectly between young adult and middle grade fiction, and is sure to delight young teen readers just as much as it will adult readers.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: Disabilities, Rett Syndrome, family, communication, sisters, friendship
Reading age guide: Ages 10 and up.
Published: 1 October 2018 by University of Queensland Press
Format: Paperback, ebook.