Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles | Book ReviewThings We Couldn't Say by Jay Coles
Also by this author: Tyler Johnson Was Here
on September 21, 2021
Genres: Emotions & Feelings, Family, LGBTQ, Parents, Romance, Social Themes, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 320
Format: ARC, eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
ISBN: 9781338734188
Goodreads
five-stars

From one of the brightest and most acclaimed new lights in YA fiction, a fantastic new novel about a bi Black boy finding first love . . . and facing the return of the mother who abandoned his preacher family when he was nine.

There's always been a hole in Gio's life. Not because he's into both guys and girls. Not because his father has some drinking issues. Not because his friends are always bringing him their drama. No, the hole in Gio's life takes the shape of his birth mom, who left Gio, his brother, and his father when Gio was nine years old. For eight years, he never heard a word from her . . . and now, just as he's started to get his life together, she's back.

It's hard for Gio to know what to do. Can he forgive her like she wants to be forgiven? Or should he tell her she lost her chance to be in his life? Complicating things further, Gio's started to hang out with David, a new guy on the basketball team. Are they friends? More than friends? At first, Gio's not sure . . . especially because he's not sure what he wants from anyone right now.

There are no easy answers to love -- whether it's family love or friend love or romantic love. In Things We Couldn't Say, Jay Coles, acclaimed author of Tyler Johnson Was Here, shows us a guy trying to navigate love in all its ambiguity -- hoping at the other end he'll be able to figure out who is and who he should be.

Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles is a fantastic follow up to Tyler Johnson Was Here. If you are looking for a book that is a thoughtful character study of the inner world of a bisexual Black boy, this is THE book for you. I found myself so impressed and frankly bowled over by some of the passages within this book.

Jay Coles’ Things We Couldn’t Say is about Giovanni “Gio” who is a junior in high school. Gio is a starter on the varsity basketball team. He also loves making playlists. Gio lives with his father and stepmother, Karina, along with his little brother Theo. His mother essentially abandoned him when he was eight, and so Gio and Theo both are working through abandonment issues and trauma from it. As it turns out though, his mother has returned and Gio must decide if he wants her back in his life, while also processing what happened. Meanwhile, there is a new boy on the basketball team who also happens to be his neighbor – David. FYI, David is bisexual as well and spending more and more time with Gio.

This book is multifaceted. I love that it wasn’t solely about one thing. Rather, this was about Gio coming into his own. He had to get comfortable with who he was. Gio had to figure out if he wanted to come out in general as bisexual and then if he wanted to pursue a relationship with David. David, FYI, does make some missteps but learns from them. We also do get the reason why Gio’s mom left and it makes some sense. Looking at it from the perspective of a mom with two kids, there’s nothing in this world that could prevent me from being in the lives of my children. BUT, that is also looking at it from immense privilege, given that I am a cishet.

Anyways, I just really want to point out that I thought Tyler Johnson Was Here was really good and I feel as though Things We Couldn’t Say was a level up for Coles. Clearly the writing and skills have not stagnated. And well, I just love when an author gets better and better. Now I find myself looking forward to whatever Jay Coles is coming out with next. I am sure he is going to ascend his skills to the next level.


five-stars
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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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