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Things Unsaid

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  280 ratings  ·  112 reviews
2016 USA Best Books Finalist in Literary Fiction and in New Fiction
Readers Favorite 2016 Silver Medal for Best Fiction-Drama
Beverly Hills Book Award for Best New Adult Novel 2016

A family saga, "Things Unsaid" is a tale of survival, resilience, and recovery. Family ties are stressed to the breaking point.

Jules Foster, her sister Joanne, and her brother Andrew all grew up
Paperback, 270 pages
Published October 2015 by She Writes Press
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Diana Paul Thank you, LeeAndra, for this exceptional question! The obvious one I had in mind, when I wrote Things Unsaid, was that Aida didn’t want to hit her…moreThank you, LeeAndra, for this exceptional question! The obvious one I had in mind, when I wrote Things Unsaid, was that Aida didn’t want to hit her own kids, so she hurt her own arm instead--a type of self-abuse. I thought of that action as not only her way to control her rage, but to show that she didn’t know how to be a mother except in either-or terms: the mother hurts herself or her kids when a difficult situation arises. I believe I may have mentioned that her own mother did the same—and this symbolizes the passing-on of behavioral patterns. Aida was full of rage and didn't know how to deal with it.(less)

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Jenni Ogden
Sep 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for providing me with an e-version of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This wry portrait of a dysfunctional family is beautifully written and funny as well as poignant. It is one of a very few novels I have ever read where the central issue is what to do with the oldies, especially if they made your life hell as a kid (and are continuing to do so) and you don’t much like them. Indeed Bob and Aida Whitman, the almost unbelievably selfish elderly
Kristina Aziz
Aug 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Things unsaid is interesting for the same reason sickened or A Child called It are interesting, or why harry potter was so interesting when he was a boy under the stairs. No one knows why or how a family can be so dysfunctional, and these gossip type mysteries are things to be devoured by the human brain. The story mainly follows Jules Foster, the oldest of three, and how the parenting of her detached diva mother affected her own motherhood with her daughter Zoe. Jules is ultimately pushed too ...more
Apr 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Not since Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections has a family been dissected with such care, anger, and love. Painful as it is to remember our mishaps and our mistakes, it's the only way to find any lasting value in our memories.
Nicole Waggoner
Jun 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Things Unsaid is a gorgeous read. It is life on paper for anyone trying to raise a family while caring for parents and gracefully deflecting estate - motivated pressures. Through the family's saga, we are reminded to recognize and uphold the true meaning of love, duty, and honor.
Jennifer Dwight
May 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This wry, wise novel about coming to terms with conflicting family obligations in middle age also addresses the roles that pain and loss can play in awakening people, and in healing dysfunctional family patterns.
Told in the third person, the protagonist is Jules, the oldest of three offspring of an unhappy marriage between an outspoken, Narcissistic drama queen and her disillusioned physician husband. In spare, Hemmingway-like prose, each character is artfully developed to expose not only flaws
Tobi Ludwig
Aug 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"Things Unsaid" chronicles the growth and development of a very dysfunctional family through the years and touches on some of the most important Issues of our modern society. It was a wonderful read. I didn't want to put it down. It reminded me of some of the same weird dynamics I have in my own family of origin.
Ms. Paul tells her story through vignettes of family run-ins over the years, and the interrelations of the various characters. She presents the information and allows the reader to
Marianne Bohr
Aug 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Diana Paul straightforwardly and with few frills tells the story of Jules, part of the sandwich generation dealing with both children and parents. Who is more important? How do we split our allegiances? Where do the boundaries of what we need to do for aging (and in this case, irresponsible) parents lie? I kept wanting to shake the dutiful daughter, Jules, as her always-responsible, do what is right for my parents inner child always took hold. Although a sad family portrait, I couldn't stop ...more
Aug 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Her novel, Things Unsaid, tears at the social fabric of family and generational relationships and she tells a compelling story – with a wellspring of Buddhist understanding thrown in. Choosing between the family you are born into and the one you create as an adult is always a moral dilemma. This exciting story has family members we can all identify with. It is raw and spares no one the pain that comes with making difficult choices. A real page-turner!
Leslie Nack
Aug 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is the reality for so many families. What to do when our parents get old and need us to take care of them, but they were less than kind to us when we were kids. Diana Paul writes this story and pulls at my heart strings as I am in the very position that Jules is in. When a book strikes so close to home it's difficult to put down. I highly recommend this book. It's a complex and realistic look at the family dynamics so many of us face.
WordsAPlenty received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Things Unsaid: A Novel is an eye opening book that makes one look not only at one’s self but at one’s family with an intensity that is staggering. Three children – Jules, Joanne and Andrew are faced with caring for their aged parents who are now in an expensive retirement home and accumulating debts at the speed of light. Neither of their parents appear to be as sharp as they once were mentally but their
May 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
The baby boomers in America today are faced with the same dilemma as the characters in this book - how do they juggle taking care of their aging parents and their families and children at the same time and not go totally crazy themselves. Adding to the problem in this novel is that these parents have always treated their children terribly but the adult children still feel guilt over how to care for their parents.

Robert and Aida have three children - Jules, their oldest daughter who feels the
LeeAndra Chergey
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The back cover says "A Ferocious Tale..." I couldn't agree more. The dynamic with the family, not unlike so many, was so turbulent. I was enrapt with Jules and her family's story. So much of it I could relate to and so much I was aghast. I could not put it down and like all good books, I didn't want it to end, but lost the battle of savoring it. I had to finish! Diana kept the pages turning with each character's plight and circumstance. The reader gets into the devilish mother's head and has ...more
Connie Mayo
Mar 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Diana Paul tackles issues near and dear to Boomer's hearts: challenges that arise from having elderly parents, including their financial irresponsibility, their favoritism, their declining abilities to navigate the world. As in Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections, the characters are not all likable, but it's hard not to sympathize with Jules, the adult child everyone is expecting to fix everything, while she experiences her own troubles with her husband and daughter. Family dynamics can be tough, ...more
Christine Ristaino
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Diana Paul’s novel Things Unsaid deftly invites us into the home of a family before they have time to clean for a surprise guest. Her main characters are complex, flawed, and human. We watch Jules as she navigates the landscapes of love, obligation, and freedom, what she is expected to do versus how she really wants to live her life. Her internal conflict, her place in the family, and her intricate, at times destructive, bonds with her parents and siblings, take us to the brink of catastrophe. ...more
Barbara Donsky
Sep 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Things Unsaid asks us to consider what children owe their aging parents and siblings. Beginning on page one — as a police officer explains to Julia (‘Jules’), the protagonist, that her elderly parents have sideswiped a car and left the scene of the accident — a pervasive sense of unease grips the reader.

It’s not the accident, per se, that causes the apprehension, but the cavalier manner in which her father dismisses the officer’s charges.

As we come to know this dysfunctional family — a
Marylee MacDonald
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Jules is a middle-aged woman trying her best to stay afloat. Her daughter needs her mom to "be there" for her. Her supportive husband is losing patience. Jules' job requires her to be on top of her game. And, she has aging parents who now require her emotional and financial support.

While Jules is the central character, the author lets us in on the hopes and dreams of the other important players in the family drama. This gave me sympathy for all the characters. I could see that, in their way of
J.A. Wright
Aug 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read this novel over the holidays. Probably not my best idea as several characters and situations reminded me of my family- especially the parents and their struggle to get what they want. I meant to post a review right away, but I think I needed time to let the story stew in my head. I now realize that this novel reminds me of something I too often forget - that doing what I think is the right thing for my family isn't always easy or well received. Besides crafting an engaging story, Diana ...more
Patti Clark
Aug 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
'Things Unsaid' is powerful and compelling. The book is not comfortable to read, I didn't like any of the characters and felt frustrated and angry at almost all of them. It is a real in-depth look at a dysfunctional family and a great portrayal of a narcissistic mother.
Diana Paul does an excellent job of pulling the reader into this family system; painful to read, but so powerfully written that I didn't want to put it down.
Story Circle Book Reviews
Jul 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
In a carefully crafted cautionary tale, Diana Paul writes a story of a family that could be anyone's family. Dr. and Mrs. Whitman have lived a life of privilege. They have raised two daughters, Julia ("Jules") and Joanne, and a son, Andrew. Each of the children have families of their own and must grapple with how to handle their aging parents' decline in health, resistance to lifestyle changes, and financial irresponsibility.

Jules emerges as the one to whom not only her parents but also her
Annie McDonnell
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
This story was almost hard to digest, because it speaks of a family in such dysfunction that it is painstaking to read. But, that is exactly what makes this story so wonderful and different.
To tell a tale of a family that is always at its breaking point must have been hard to do; but, Diane Y. Paul gives them a very loud voice. While uncomfortable at times, I did enjoy this book. I almost had to put it down at the beginning, but I am glad I ended up reading the entire book, in just one sitting.
Penny Schmuecker
Aug 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for providing me with an e-version of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Diana Paul has written a beautiful novel which perfectly illustrates the phenomenon know as the "sandwich generation." By definition, that is the generation of people who care for aging parents who may be ill, unable to perform daily tasks, or who need financial support, while also supporting their own children.

Bob and Aida Whitman, now in their early 80's, have three
Mar 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
As a current caregiver for my elderly mom with beginning stages of Alzheimer's and an older sibling that isn't always dependable, this book really hit home for me. I could relate to Jules Foster in that she's the one that everyone depended on to take care of everything, but I would not have made some of the decisions that she made especially when it came to her own daughter. There were a few characters that were not likable to me, especially the narcissistic mother, Aida, but I thought Diane ...more
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love reading about family dynamics, and this one had a special attraction. The parents were trying to hold their children hostage to make sure that the parents' needs were met without any changes on their part. Each child had a totally different reaction to their parents' manipulations and emotional blackmail. I could see real families reacting in such ways. The dysfunction dripped from every page until everyone almost drowned and was almost carried out to sea by the storm's waves.

I so didn't
Diane Coto
Nov 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
What is it about verbally abused children that make them keep trying to please their parents even though that will never happen? Julia (Jules) was the eldest daughter, now grown and married with a child of her own. She has a sister and brother, Joanne and Andrew. Jules and Joanne arrive for their mother’s birthday celebration. Soon after Jules arrives, her dad, Robert Whitman, goes to his computer, while her mom, Aida, starts in on her. Their financial crisis is all her fault for giving her dad ...more
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
“Things Unsaid” fester through the length of Diana Paul’s fine novel of family dysfunction. Most poignant is the plight of Jules, a “good daughter” who is pulled between the needs of her husband and kids – which he loudly and frequently articulates as demands – and her aging parents, who blithely assume that of course she will take care of them. Their obliviousness and carelessness with her welfare, while extreme, is unfortunately not uncommon. While we get some glimpses into the world of the ...more
Oct 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story details some of the events in a very dysfunctional family consisting of: Aida and Robert, the parents (although I use the term loosely) who are the most self-centered, narcissistic and selfish people who act like their children were put on this earth for their comfort, welfare and amusement.
Jules is the oldest and has a warped sense of duty where her parents, sister and brother are concerned and which almost cost her her daughter and, in part, her husband. Andrew is the be all and the
Joan Rough
Jun 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
THINGS UNSAID, by Diana Y. Paul, is a novel that could be a memoir. It is the universal story of a dysfunctional family, how they tear each other apart, and how if not stopped, their instability could bleed down through generations to come. It is a story of the conflicts between a set of elderly parents, their three grown children, and their granddaughters. All of them soaking in the sour brine of relationships gone bad. In today’s world of Baby Boomers taking over the care of their aging ...more
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Things Unsaid definitely takes the reader on an outrageous ride with a super dysfunctional family. Or are they a typical family that struggles with sense of obligation to each other. What exactly do we owe our aging parents and family members when life comes crashing down around them financially? And how does this affect our spouses and children? All these questions are in this well written story that at times made me very angry with certain characters while at other times made me LOL at their ...more
Melissa Rea
May 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It was a really good read examining the many challenges associated with love. The characters were vivid and real if not always acting in sympathetic ways. Their humanity made you almost feel you were part of the family too. I have to admit I felt a little fortunate and a little cheated a the same time that my parents died young. The writing is strong and carries you effortlessly along the stream of love and duty. Somehow the stones in the middle just add to the story.
Christine Nolfi
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Book clubs will savor this story of family dynamics and the questions of love and duty the protagonist Jules must face while navigating her mother’s narcissism and the secrets hidden by her siblings. A beautifully written book with a message of redemption and healing at its core. Highly recommended.
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Diana Y. Paul is the award-winning author of THINGS UNSAID. Pushcart Prize Nominee 2016, USA Best Books FINALIST in Literary Fiction and in New Fiction 2016, WINNER of 2016 SILVER Medal for Best Fiction in Drama from Readers Favorite and the WINNER for New Adult Fiction from Beverly Hills Book Awards 2016, THINGS UNSAID has been ranked #2 on the "Top 14 Books about Families Crazier than Yours."

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“Family and dysfunction went together like peanut butter and jelly. Family sagas. Everything would be okay. But how?” 1 likes
“That's what a good daughter is supposed to do--love her mother even if her mother doesn't love her back." Things Unsaid, from Chapter One, "Family Matters” 0 likes
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