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I Can't Tell You
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I Can't Tell You

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  665 ratings  ·  81 reviews
After he opens his big mouth in a big fight with his best friend, Jake concludes that talking = trouble. He decides that communicating through writing is safer. Through notes scribbled on napkins and in notebooks, on upside-down calculators, and on walls with pudding-covered fingers, Jake explores new ways to express himself. But there are also the notes he never sends. To ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published October 25th 2004 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published October 1st 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,159)
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Chelsea
Drivel; don't waste your time. I originally picked it up because the format seemed interesting and I wanted to see what the author could do with it. Unfortunately it became clear about twenty pages in that the answer was a disappointing "not much."

It took me a long time to accept that the characters were, in fact, college students - I kept thinking there had to be some mistake. I tried time and time again (unsuccessfully) to invent a scenario in which a bunch of fourteen-year-olds might have bee
...more
Matt
i very difficult concept to get right away. Pointless not very good story line. its about multiple kids at a high school and pages i guess from their diaries. unnecessary words and situations. made me laugh.
Adam
I learned about this book on NPR, and it makes sense that I did. Hillary Frank is a local author and the writing method she uses in the book are a little artsy and quircky. It is a whole book without dialogue. The main char, Jake has taken the literal course of not talking because he said the wrong thing and wrecked his freindship with his best freind. Not talking makes things difficult for Jake, but he gets buy with post it notes, dry eraser boards and upside down calculators, very clever.
The s
...more
Jennie
Jul 16, 2008 Jennie rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jennie by: Krissie
Shelves: humor
My sister gave this this book because it was very punny, and The Spouse (yes, The Boy has been upgraded) enjoys puns. I read it in the car on the way back from Chicago, reading out loud the best and/or dirtiest puns. The Spouse enjoyed them very much.

As a book, however, I couldn't really stand it, mainly because all the characters are completely foreign and unrealistic to me. To me, it seemed like a high schooler's conception of what college would be like, not what college was actually like. Eve
...more
D. George
I read - and loved - the author's first book, Better Than Running at Night, and so picked up this one to see if she was able to continue her unique and interesting narrative style.

Not only does she continue it, she turns it on its head, with a completely NEW narrative style: the story is entirely told via notes written on napkins, dry erase boards, etc.

I'll admit, it's kind of hard to get used to the style, and at first I wondered what in the heck was going on, but once I fell into the rhythm, i
...more
Robin Conley
I thought this book might be interesting because of the premise and the format, but it was pretty disappointing. The format was cool, and an interesting concept, but other than that I had a lot of trouble getting into the story and I'm not sure who I'd recommend this book to. The writing wasn't bad, but there were a lot of issues that put me off the book.

My main issue was the protagonist, Jake. He wasn't very likable to me. He betrays his best friend and then kind of acts like was justified, and
...more
Emily
Jun 07, 2011 Emily rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who like a good cry
A truly heart shattering yet amazing book. Told in notes and texts because the main character decides that it's safer that way. This is a story that will grip your heart and then shatter it to pieces, but its all worthwhile because its so amazing and addictive
Kelly V
This is a quirky book with a bit of a gimmick—it’s told entirely through the medium of notes written by the protagonist and his friends. You see, Jake has decided not to talk so he only communicates by writing (dry erase boards, a notebook, etc.). And somehow his friends go along with this and he doesn’t talk for a month or so but keeps his friends. The book focuses on Jake’s crush on a girl called Xandra, but there isn’t much of a true plot. This is all fine and could be entertaining. But I fou ...more
Isabel Yarema
This book was extremely interesting to read and to interpret. This book was different then any book I've ever seen written. It contains absolutely no dialogue but still manages the reader to understand the conflicts and issues Jake is going through. Most of the book is interpretations since the conflicts aren't always too direct, and therefore you must try to understand the emotions Jake goes through. Each letter in this book is different yet relatable to the next and helps you feel the emotions ...more
Maria
Overall this is a really great book. I could really relate to the main character, Jake. Even though at first I was a little confused with the format of the book, once I figured it out the book made so much sense. It had a lot of humor and it even made me tear up at one point. The book was really entertaining and kept me interested the whole time. The only thing I didn't like was how it ended. I really wanted Xandra and Jake to get together but they never did and I wasn't sure if they really were ...more
Kayla
I Can't Tell You
by Hillary Frank
Graphia, 208 Pgs
ISBN: 061849491X

Pudding fights, notes in the margins of science labs, and filled napkins full of words and conversations. Jack will communicate in any means necessary as long as it doesn't include speaking. Everyone at one point in their lives wishes they could take back something they say or at least edit something. Jack knows this very well because since he screamed out his secret to his best friend he wishes he could somehow edit what happened.
...more
Maelstrom Reviews
Feb 06, 2009 Maelstrom Reviews rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Maelstrom by: friends
Shelves: maelstrom
Dateline: February 6th, 2009 : Somewhere over the Mediterranean. This review was posted. View briefing HERE.

D0 you haz a pencil?
I haz a pencil.
Do you likez teh girl?
Yes. I likez teh girl. But she hatez meeeee... *sad scribbling*
riting notez be fixing n0?


The above is an Aellafied example of basic conversation in this book. Or lack therof. Jake is in love with his friend Xandra, but due to the recent epic battle with his best friend, the future is looking shaky. And all because of a few misplaced
...more
Robin
Jul 10, 2012 Robin rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: owned
The style of this book is fascinating. It's a book literally without ANY dialogue. It's all entirely written in note-form, ketchup-splatters, emails, and unread journal entries. In that respect, it's fascinating to see just how much is communicated through controlled communication.

At the same time... good god. The protagonist is so whiny. So obnoxious. So trite. He's difficult to relate to and, I'm sorry, I was unable to really connect to him or feel much sympathy. I could see the attempts (mad
...more
Kirsten
The book I Can't Tell You is kind of confusing at the beginning, but once you start to understand it, it is a very good book. One of the things that I like about this book is that a lot of people can relate to the conflict, which makes the book better. The conflict in the book is about how two roomates get into a fight over a girl, and then they only communicate by writting notes. While this book is about two teenage boys getting in a fight, the book Touching Spirit Bear is about a boy that take ...more
Keshia
Hillary Frank's "I Can't Tell You" is a story told not through words and images but through a series of notes, slobber marks, and dry erase boards. It follows the character of Jake through a month + of mutism and his unrelenting crush on a girl called Xandra. There is no dialogue, no long paragraphs of description and narration, instead it is just the messages Jake and friends write throughout his silence. The only things to break the patterns are the letters to "Miss Me", Jake's unborn twin sis ...more
Rachael
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brittany
Jake's said some terrible things to his best friend that he wishes he could take back. Unfortunately the damage has already been done. Jake figures that talking=trouble and not talking=good idea. So Jake decides to stop talking, completely. He writes on napkins, whiteboards and in notebooks. Not many people understand why he stopped talking, but Jake just feels it was the right thing to do. His friend Xandra mostly understands, but there are some things he needs to tell her. If he keeps on not s ...more
Laura
The idea to write a book written solely in notes was a very good one. It was an interesting concept that I've never seen before and I thought it could either be really good or really bad. It was neither, but it was more on the bad side.

For one thing, the characters. It was very confusing, at first, who was talking. It annoyed me that I had to check the back of the book just to find out some character's names. But then it started coming together later, which was good.

The major problem was the lac
...more
Sammi
I do not feel that this book had any impact on my life whatsoever. The end was ridiculous and ended abruptly. Tbe middles were filled with notes and things of a desperate awkward college kid. The style of writing was what attracted me to this book. There is no dialouge other than written. I feel that because of the way it is written the characters remain faceless. You have no clue what they look like or really even who they are. All in all I feel like it is a very different, quick read. It was f ...more
Caleb Parker
I have had my moments with this book. Some good while some were...well not and sometimes frustrating for literal thinking people. Ironically, the main character has the same problem. These people are supposedlly college students, but they act like middle schoolers. They think it's funny when they get ketchup on another and that would be fighting language. Then you get over that, the other stupid things, literally think every student has the maturity of a middle schooler and you're ready to read ...more
Tesa
I really liked this book. I think that it shows the "just friends" aspect really well of what it's like to have sexual tension with someone who has friend zoned you (or vice versa). I think this is a good book for teens because I can totally see a teen (I probably would have done this) doing this kind of a stunt for several different reasons. I would recommend this book to mature middle schoolers just because this book has a couple of weird scenes.
Beth
Read this one because a patron felt it was not appropriate for teens due to sex. Well, I thought it was pretty good actuallly. I gave it 3 stars because I personally have a hard time with books that are snipits of converstions, like text messages, and this one was about a freshman at college who stopped talking and only wrote notes - on everything! I feel that this book handles a situation that comes up a lot in college, fighting with your best friend/roommate and liking a girl but not daring to ...more
Kali Dylan
I wrote a report about this book back in eighth grade and I thought I remembered liking the unique writing style of this book, but rereading it now I really don't like it. I probably would have preferred this book be just written out like a contemporary and not through notes, (the notes got confusing at times). It was a very very fast read, and if your looking for an interesting writing style check it out.
Carrie
The style of this book is really interesting. It's told through a series of notes; paper notes, white board notes, and e-mails. It looks interesting on the page. The main character decides to stop talking thinking that he'll get in less "trouble". He's fighting with his best friend and afraid to tell another friend he is falling in love with her. I was a little frustrated with the 'will they or won't they aspect' of the sexual tension between these two friends. Clearly, they each feel more than ...more
Mayra Martinez
In this book, Jack gets into a harsh fight with his best friend concerning a girl who Jack was flirting with and was going out with his best friend. In order to keep his word on not talking to his friend, Jack then communicates by using and writing notes to people. He then starts many conversations with his friend, Xandra, and she becomes his writing buddy. Although Jack still needs to talk to his mom because she doesn't understand his reason for not talking, Xandra helps him out by telling his ...more
Monique
The book pretty much explores the very wonders (and disappointments) of the teenaged hormones... The main character struggling to say and even write down his feelings- which is pretty much what other guys do... Which is a very well- known stereotype, kind of...

And the fact that he's different around Xandra, it shows perfectly how much he likes her, especially in the letters... And it's quite humorous how they write the notes and how they have fun, in their own little abusive kind of way... But u
...more
Lindsay
This story was pretty interesting. At first it was very frustrating because of the format, but once your brain gets into the groove of comprehending how the style works it turns into an interesting way of telling a pretty basic storyline.
Calista Hall
This book broke my heart in such a good way. While the ending is so upsetting to me, I'm so glad it the ending written. This book deserves so much more than a cliche ending.
j. gomez
This is a revised review of this book. If only Hillary Frank dwelt on the fact that Jacob had a twin sister who died inside the womb (i think), then this novel would become so much better. Rather than taking this novel to a whole new level, Frank decided to dodge the real problems and issues (i.e. the twin who died, the divorce, the complication of speaking, deeper reason for Jacob's sudden selective mutism) If only she elaborated on them and not just finish the book in such an anticlimactically ...more
Erica
Really enjoyed this. Started it such a long time ago, though, that I had to just start from the beginning. It's written entirely in notes and letters, which is intriguing to me. About a college freshman who decides that speaking = getting him in trouble, so he decides he isn't going to talk anymore. Well, at least for a while. I was quite a letter writer myself when I was in college. Problem was, I never ripped up or destroyed the evidence. I generally shared them and managed, often, to make a f ...more
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Hillary Frank is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. She is the author and illustrator of the novels Better Than Running at Night (Houghton Mifflin 2002), I Can't Tell You (Houghton Mifflin 2004), and The View From the Top (Penguin 2010). Better Than Running at Night was named a Top Ten First Youth Novel by Booklist and a Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association.

Hillary
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More about Hillary Frank...
Better Than Running at Night The View from the Top

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“Trust = telling someone about the things that make you sleepless.” 59 likes
“Writing feels safer somehow. I can catch myself before I say the wrong thing.” 52 likes
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