Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Things We Cannot Say

Rate this book
In 1942, Europe remains in the relentless grip of war. Just beyond the tents of the Russian refugee camp she calls home, a young woman speaks her wedding vows. It’s a decision that will alter her destiny…and it’s a lie that will remain buried until the next century.

Since she was nine years old, Alina Dziak knew she would marry her best friend, Tomasz. Now fifteen and engaged, Alina is unconcerned by reports of Nazi soldiers at the Polish border, believing her neighbors that they pose no real threat, and dreams instead of the day Tomasz returns from college in Warsaw so they can be married. But little by little, injustice by brutal injustice, the Nazi occupation takes hold, and Alina’s tiny rural village, its families, are divided by fear and hate. Then, as the fabric of their lives is slowly picked apart, Tomasz disappears. Where Alina used to measure time between visits from her beloved, now she measures the spaces between hope and despair, waiting for word from Tomasz and avoiding the attentions of the soldiers who patrol her parents’ farm. But for now, even deafening silence is preferable to grief.

Slipping between Nazi-occupied Poland and the frenetic pace of modern life, Kelly Rimmer creates an emotional and finely wrought narrative that weaves together two women’s stories into a tapestry of perseverance, loyalty, love and honor. The Things We Cannot Say is an unshakable reminder of the devastation when truth is silenced…and how it can take a lifetime to find our voice before we learn to trust it.

448 pages, Hardcover

First published February 26, 2019

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Kelly Rimmer

22 books4,860 followers
Kelly Rimmer is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of ten novels, including The Secret Daughter and The Things We Cannot Say. She’s sold more than one million books, and her novels have been translated into more than 20 languages. Kelly lives in the Central West of New South Wales with her family and fantastically naughty dogs, Sully and Basil.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
77,518 (61%)
4 stars
38,209 (30%)
3 stars
8,470 (6%)
2 stars
1,367 (1%)
1 star
513 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 11,645 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,195 reviews40.6k followers
April 5, 2023
Five remarkable, epic, tear jerking stars!
The title gives us a clue that something kept secret in this family. But this poetically written, heartwarming, amazing story is not about the family secrets , it’s about the words we keep inside and it’s about the emotions we hide. It’s about the reconnection of the family by reaching their roots and discovering their ancestors and an epic, unconditional, never ending love story defeats the time, dead and war.

Our two heroines Alice, Alina are coming from different generations. Alina is young, good hearted and always protected by her family. During the struggling war times, she loses her loved ones and her family comfort zone which pushes her take braver decisions for her life. The love she has for Tomazs help her gather her strength, fight for all the obstacles by taking dangerous risks.

And Alice is trapped in a life, responsibilities of her little boy, suffering from Asperger syndrome and her genius daughter, neglected by her workaholic husband. By giving up her work life, she is dedicated herself to her children but when she gives her word to her grandmother to find her ancestors in Poland, she finally understands how lost she is. By leaving her comfort zone, learning to be brave, she finds herself as like Alina has done decades ago.

This book about finding yourself, taking risks, making sacrifices, reaching to your inner strengths, looking at your life from different perspective, fighting for your own beliefs till the end and true love stands still no matter life throws the toughest obstacles in the lovers’ way.
I loved “ Before I let you go”, an emotional, poignant family story. But this book is deeply affecting, lyrical, life changing and I absolutely loved this one more!

Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,109 reviews2,791 followers
July 8, 2021
The Things We Cannot Say had me crying and I usually don't cry when I read books, no matter how sad. But this story just tore the tears from me, in so many ways. Two time periods are linked together by one woman and the truth she couldn't tell, until her very last days.

In 1942, fifteen year old Polish Catholic Alina Dziak is poor, but she has her mother, father, and two doting brothers. The family lives on their small farm and eek out an existence in this place that is home for them. Alina's love is Tomasz, her best friend, and now fiance. Eighteen year old Tomasz is off to Warsaw to study to be a doctor and then Alina and Tomasz will marry and start a family of their own. But once the Nazis occupy Poland, grim reality slowly hits home, and death is at Alina's doorstep. 

In the present day, eighty five year old Hannah is dying. She's having strokes, is in the hospital, and will probably never leave alive. Despite the fact that she can't communicate verbally, she has something she wants her granddaughter, Alice, to do for her. Alice, who is in a daily struggle to meet the needs of her son Eddie, seven years old, nonverbal, and on the autism spectrum. Eddie's means of communication becomes a way for Hannah to communicate her wishes with Alice and soon, Alice knows that Hannah has something very important for her to do. 

Throughout the story, we switch between the narration of Alina and Alice and we begin to see just how they are connected. Alina's story is one of so much loss, of unbreakable loves, of heroic sacrifices, and the unimaginable inhumanity of man. Alice's is another story of love but also a story of letting go, so that she and her family can change and grow, in ways she didn't realize could ever be possible. 

The story of Alina and Tomasz, tore my heart in two, the horror of the Holocaust being a reality, a simple life becoming an unrelenting, constant bombardment of brutality and death. And it is through Alice that we find out the secrets that Hannah has hidden from her family. Secrets that she and her husband Saul could never bring themselves to reveal about their days in Poland, during the Holocaust. 

There is now a companion story to this one named The Warsaw Orphan.

Published February 26th 2019
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,285 reviews2,205 followers
March 23, 2019

This is a story of war, of family, of loss, of sacrifice, of the goodness of people trying to save others because they saw each other as human beings, not as Jews or Catholics, and at its heart is a beautiful love story. It’s an important story as all Holocaust stories are because it’s focus is on the importance of remembering the things that happened, the importance of sharing those stories. So many novels these days are comprised of dual narratives, one in the past and one in a more modern time. They don’t always work, but that structure worked here perfectly and when the stories finally converged, even though the connection became apparent to me before that time, I cried. The moment was so emotional for the characters and Kelly Rimmer does a beautiful job of conveying it.

I almost always like the historical part better in these dual time frame narratives, and I did this time in the first half, but towards the end I became equally engaged in the modern story. I was immediately taken by Alina and Tomasz, two young people falling in love just as the Nazis began occupying Poland. Their vow to be together no matter what, is challenged by the horrific deeds of the Nazis that seem to work against them and their families at every turn. Alice in the recent story, which alternates with Alina ‘s, has challenges of her own - a marriage that doesn’t seem to be working, a seven year old son on the autism spectrum, a precocious ten year old daughter, a mother who hasn’t approved of Alice’s life choices and a very sick grandmother whom she loves dearly. Alice’s grandmother after suffering a stroke is asking Alice to go to her birthplace in Poland and find some people from her past. She can’t speak but is able to communicate with a communication tool that Alice’s son Eddie uses, an app on an iPad. I loved the relationship that Eddie has with his great grandmother.

Alina and Tomasz’s story and what is happening with the Nazi occupation and the affect on the town and these families is heartbreaking . Even though the camps and what is happening there is at a distance, the reader is not spared the horrific affects on the family, on the Jews around them. What happened in Alice’s grandmother’s past is something that she has not been able to bring herself to share until she is close to dying. Alice recognizes the importance of knowing the story. “What happens when stories like these are lost? What happens when there’s no one left to pass your experience on to, or you just can’t bring yourself to share it ?” I have often thought about how few Holocaust survivors are left.

This is a heartbreakingly beautiful book and is all the more meaningful when Rimmer tells us in a note that she traveled to Poland to visit her grandmother’s childhood home. She comments briefly on her inspiration for the book here : http://www.betterreading.com.au/news/...
At the end of the book there is a list of discussion questions. The last question asks what will you remember most about this book. I will remember how important it is that we don’t forget what happened. I will remember this very beautiful love story, the goodness of people reflected by characters like Tomasz.

This was a group read with the Traveling Sisters.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Harlequin - Graydon House Books through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
401 reviews3,489 followers
March 26, 2023
Kelly Rimmer’s The Things We Cannot Say is my second World War II book set in Poland this year. This book switched between two sections, a modern-day section following Alice and a World War II section following Alina.

Alice is a mom, raising two children, Callie and Eddie, and trying to keep her marriage to Wade intact. Eddie is on the autistic spectrum, and Alice tries hard to meet Eddie where he is, advocating for him, and doting on him as a loving mother. While visiting her sick grandmother, she is asked to go on a mysterious trip to Poland.

Alina has been in love with Tomasz her entire life. However, when the Nazis invade her homeland of Poland, Tomasz is in danger.

How will these two stories intersect?

The format of the book works really well for The Things We Cannot Say. Additionally, I am thrilled, THRILLED, that those with disabilities were represented. The tension between Alice and Wade is real. Eddie deserves to be challenged and explore life, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. However, Eddie also will never be Callie. Finding the balance between unrealistic expectations and pushing someone is very difficult, and The Things We Cannot Say reflects that.

At the beginning of the book, there are several secrets that the readers are trying to discover. At some point, I figured out the big reveals. The big reveal is then explained by Alina. Then, Alice’s section also repeats the big reveal. Needless to say, there is a bit too much repetition and over explanation.

Although I enjoyed this book, it feels a little too long for my taste. Also, Grandmother never had two weeks to go on vacation to Poland to get some answers for herself? I find this very hard to believe.

In conclusion, I can see why so many people love The Things We Cannot Say. It is an interesting read, but I would have enjoyed it more if it was 100-200 pages shorter.

2023 Reading Schedule
Jan Alice in Wonderland
Feb Notes from a Small Island
Mar Cloud Atlas
Apr On the Road
May The Color Purple
Jun Bleak House
Jul Bridget Jones’s Diary
Aug Anna Karenina
Sep The Secret History
Oct Brave New World
Nov A Confederacy of Dunces
Dec The Count of Monte Cristo

Connect With Me!
Blog Twitter BookTube Facebook Insta
Profile Image for oyshik.
210 reviews664 followers
January 29, 2021
The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer
Survival, hardship, and heartbreak. It was deeply emotional, filled with knowledge about the Polish plight during WWII, and captured human relationships beautifully during the war. A compelling and poignant story. This is a story that brings into focus how quickly a society can be changed from one of peace and traditions when another government decides that it is their right to force their own beliefs. Definitely would recommend this book to all my friends.
It costs our ancestors too damned much for us to have this life - the best thing we can do to honor them is to live it to its fullest.

Beautifully sad.
April 4, 2019
5 stars! Kelly Rimmer, you are a writing Queen!

I read “Before I Let You Go” last year which was my first book by Kelly Rimmer. I finished that novel overcome with unshakable emotion and a feeling of being forever changed. That storyline and those characters still haunt me to this day. This novel, although a completely different type of storyline, left me feeling the exact same. I was teary during the first page of the Prologue. I felt an intense emotional connection to the characters in the first few pages of Chapter 1. What does this tell me? The power behind Kelly Rimmer’s writing is undeniably impactful. Her words resonate so deeply within me, in ways I find hard to describe. She has easily earned a spot on my Favourite Authors list.

Alina Dziak is fifteen-years-old when this story begins in Nazi occupied Poland during WWII. She is engaged to Tomasz, her best friend who moved away to attend medical school. She dreams of their reunion when the chaos of war is a thing of the past and they can start a family. As the war persists, Alina has the opportunity to flee to safer territory where Tomasz could meet her to live the life they always dreamed of.

Told in dual timelines, both narratives and storylines kept me fully engaged. The characters were unique and unforgettable. I read a lot of WWII novels and yet, this story introduced me to a completely different wartime perspective which I truly appreciate learning about. It’s why I love reading historical fiction.

This was a Traveling Sister read that we all loved! To find this review, please visit our blog at:


Thank you to Edelweiss, Graydon House and Kelly Rimmer for providing me with an ARC to read and review!

The Things We Cannot Say is AVAILABLE NOW!
Profile Image for BernLuvsBooks .
773 reviews4,639 followers
May 23, 2019
In The Things We Cannot Say Kelly Rimmer has penned a heartbreakingly powerful and hopeful love story set amidst the backdrop of war, loss and the unimaginable atrocities of WWII. Simply put this is the kind of book that grabs hold of you, envelopes you within it pages and holds on long after you have finished reading.

I thoroughly enjoyed the way Rimmer told this story via a dual narrative - effortlessly weaving historical fiction with a modern day story. Alina's story is set amidst the harrowing timeframe of Nazi occupied Poland. Through her narrative we experience unimaginable atrocities of war, loss of family and friends and the heartbreak and joy of true love. I was completely drawn in by Alina's story. Her strength and capacity to love and remain hopeful in such a dark time was as heartwarming as it was heartbreaking. The second narrative is set in present day. Alice is dealing with a stressful homelife - an autistic son, a gifted daughter, a marriage in crisis and her beloved Babica's (grandmother) stroke. Knowing her time on this earth is coming to an end, Babica tasks Alice with returning to her childhood country of Poland to find people from her past.

The journey Alice embarks on for her Babica was so poignant. As she uncovered her story, a story her Babica could never share, she not only uncovered her grandmother's truths but also discovered her own truths along the way. This story was filled with amazing relationships. Rimmer is not afraid to explore family and all the complications that come with it. This is not about perfection. It's messy, complicated, filled with arguments, strife and doubt but at its core its solid and founded on love.

This is my second book by Kelly Rimmer (the first being Before I Let You Go ) and she has unequivocally captured me as a fan. She captures human emotion with such heart and unflinching honesty. I urge you to add this one to the top of your must read list. You will not be sorry.

A huge thank you to Kelly Rimmer, Harlequin, Graydon House Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review an arc of this amazing book.
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,121 reviews30.2k followers
April 28, 2019
One of my 2019 favorites! A can’t miss if you love powerful historical fiction! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Told in two timelines, we hear from Alina Dziak in 1942 just as she gets married in a Russian refugee camp. Her decision to marry will change her life and bury a lie for decades.

Young Alina Dziak grows up in Poland falling in love early with her best friend, Tomasz. She is engaged at fifteen, around the same time Nazi solders arrive at the border. Tomasz is away at college in Warsaw, and she waits for him to return so they can marry.

Alina’s quiet little town is taken over by Nazis, and the climate becomes divisive and hateful. At the same time, Tomasz completely disappears. She waits and waits to hear from Tomasz as Nazi soldiers patrol her family’s farm.

The second timeline features Alice, in modern times, and the mother of a child with autism. She also cares for her aging Babcia to whom she is very close. Babcia has secrets, and after having a stroke, she wants to talk and make requests at a time when she it’s not easy for her.

Kelly Rimmer knows how to write dual timeline stories. I was hooked on both narrators and their lives. As with all of her books, The Things We Cannot Say is powerful, epic, and so emotional. It’s full of love, loyalty, steadfastness, and hope. It’s about how silence can devastate and takes years or generations from which to heal.

Overall, The Things We Cannot Say is about seeing the good in those around us and believing in the power of redemption. I ate this book up from start to finish, and it’s on my list of favorites this year. It’s huggable, emotional, and beautifully-written. Did I already mention you shouldn’t miss it?!

I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
Profile Image for KAS.
317 reviews3,130 followers
April 25, 2019

4.5 stars

I am having a hard time coming up with the words to describe the beauty and the heartbreak of this story. When it leaves you practically speechless and continually thinking about the significance of what you just read, that pretty much ‘says’ it all.

There are dual narratives within the storyline. One told in the past and one in the present. One a grandmother, the other her granddaughter.

The past takes you back to WWII and what the grandmother and her fellow countrymen endured during the Nazi occupation of Poland. The present is how the granddaughter helps her grandmother find the answers she seeks and reconcile with the events of that horrific time in history.

This is one of those remarkable, and unforgettable reads. One that still leaves you stunned the Holocaust ever occurred. It is also about hope, family and sacrificial love.

Profile Image for Berit Talks Books.
2,019 reviews15.7k followers
March 5, 2019
This beautifully crafted story weaves together the present and the past seamlessly with threads of heartbreak, sacrifice, and love!

Two strong women, two unique voices, two different times, one stunning tale! Kelly Rimmer has spun a story Full of survival and love that you won’t soon forget! Miss Rimmer has poured her heart, her hope, and her own personal family history into these pages. No matter how many books I read about WWII I am always deeply impacted by the horror of war and the power of hate. I am also humbled by the sacrifice, generosity, and love of so many.

This book jumps between 1940s Poland and today. Both stories completely captivated me seemingly disconnected, but as more pieces were added to the puzzle things started to become more clearer. Alice’s story took place in present day, she is the mother of seven-year-old Eddie and 10-year-old Callie. Eddie is on the autism spectrum and nonverbal. Alice’s main focus in life now is to create an environment best suited for Eddie’s needs, something her husband Wade does not always understand or appreciate. When Alice’s beloved grandmother has a stroke and asks Alice to travel to Poland, will Alice refuse her grandmother’s dying wish? How can Alice’s family survive without her? Wade does not seem to understand all of Eddie’s quirks and needs. Poland late 1930s-early 1940s. Alina is a naïve teenager who thinks the hardest thing in her life will be staying away from her beloved fiancé Tomasz while he is away at college. It isn’t too long however before Alina Has to look reality right in the face. Germany has invaded Poland, her twin brothers are sent off to work camps, food is scarce, and freedom is gone. Alina soon learns that she is much stronger and vraver than she ever would have thought. Two courageous women faced with some pretty big challenges, how will their stories intertwine?

Alice and Alina were amazing women with big hearts and to whom family means everything. As a mother I really felt for Alice, i’d imagine it would be very difficult, challenging, and yet rewarding to have a child with special needs. I appreciated how this book addressed the impact this has on the family dynamics and the marriage. I loved Eddie’s bond with his great grandmother. I found the technology fascinating that he used( and Great grandma did as well) to communicate. Alina was a remarkable young lady, her story was both heartbreaking and heartwarming. her strength and courage were admirable. It never fails to amaze me how far you can push the human spirit without it breaking, the resilience of so many inspires me.

A beautifully told stunning story packed with heart, hope, and emotion, have your tissue handy! Absolutely 100% recommend!

Song Running Through My Head

I will remember you, will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by,
Weep not for the memories
Remember the good times that we had?
I let them slip away from us when things got bad.
How clearly I first saw you smilin' in the sun
Want to feel your warmth upon me
I want to be the one
I will remember you, will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories
I'm so tired but I can't sleep
Standin' on the edge of something much to deep
It's funny how we feel so much but we cannot say a word
We are screaming inside, but we can't be heard
I will remember you, will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories
I'm so afraid to love you
But more afraid to lose
Clinging to…


*** many thanks to Headline for my copy of this book ***
Profile Image for Christine on hiatus, see “About me”.
589 reviews1,136 followers
May 19, 2019
5 Glorious Stars!!

I mightily attempted to damp down my expectations going into this one, as just look at those overall ratings—4.55 average from over 1600 readers on Goodreads. I needn’t have worried however, as this book delivers all the goods and in a big way. It is one of the two best novels I have read all year, and I have read some outstanding books!

This novel is long, but there is never a spot that drags. It is filled with fear, sacrifice, agony, tragedy, death, strength, loyalty, forgiveness, and love. The plot is intricate, covering multiple topics, but Ms. Rimmer gives each one its due and weaves them all together into a beautiful narrative. There are two timelines. I have read many stories with two timelines and almost always favor one over the other. Not this time though. It was no problem switching back and forth from the WWII tale to the 2019 story as both captivated me equally.

I learned so much from The Things We Cannot Say, including facts about autism and its spectrum; the power of commication; the consequences of the WWII Nazi-occupation on the entire population of Poland; the remarkable lengths ordinary people will go to sacrifice their hopes and dreams in order to help not only their families, but others as well; how life can be and should be so much more than “the rat race” of keeping up with everyday mundane goals.

The characters are well drawn by Ms. Rimmer, and although the two protagonists, Alina and Alice, have their less than admirable moments, I loved them both. I must say though that Alina must hold the world’s record for shedding the most tears of any other fictional character in history!

The Things We Cannot Say is a phenomenally substantive novel. I cannot recommend it more highly for fans of historical fiction. It is simply a must read. Trust me.
Profile Image for Sheyla ✎.
1,813 reviews474 followers
September 22, 2020
5 moje Wszystko stars!

With fat tears running down my face, I'm writing this review.

It has been almost a year since The Things We Cannot Say came out yet life has made it impossible for me to read it before now. So many friends recommended it and they were not wrong. It's a beautiful devastating story. One that will be impossible to forget.

I went in blind which I'm so happy I did. Kelly Rimmer does a beautiful job at creating Tomasz, Alina, Alice, Eddie, Emilia, Saul, and all others right in front of me.

The story begins with a wedding and then we jump to the past. A past that involves 6 million lives lost to the Nazi invasion to Poland, where 18% of the population was lost and 90 percent of Polish Jews died.

Alina is the youngest daughter of the Dziak family. Truda her oldest sister is married to Mateusz. Alina's twin brothers, Filipe and Stanislaw help her father, Bartuk, and her mother, Faustina with farming. Alina, being the youngest, gets away with doing less work and uses any free time she has to spend it with Tomasz, her true love.

Alina has known she wanted to be married to Tomasz since she was nine years old and he was twelve. Now, she is fifteen and Tomasz is ready for University. Just before he leaves to start medical school in Warsaw, Tomasz and Alina get engaged. Tomasz promises to return for her. Then WWII begins.

As farmers, Alina and her family live a hard yet comfortable life until the invasion. When the Nazis invade, everything changes drastically.

In the present (2019) Alice is dealing with her own crisis. Her dear babcia (grandmother) has had a stroke. Her son, Eddie who is the autism spectrum and communicates with an AAC app, is having a meltdown in the aisle of the store due to a yogurt label changed. Her daughter is a genius who needs constant stimuli and her husband is far from helpful with her son.

Then her Babcia communicates using Eddie's app and tells Alice:

"Babcia fire Tomasz".

The rest is for you to read.

A masterful piece is what The Things We Cannot Say novel is. It depicts the horrors of war, the fear, the famish, and so much death but also the bravery and the courage humanity can have during the worst of times.

Cliffhanger: No

5/5 Fangs

MrsLeif's Two Fangs About It | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,002 reviews36k followers
November 20, 2019
....voices by Ann Marie Gidean and Nancy Peterson

It’s rare that I ‘listen’ to Historical Fiction/WWII/Holocaust, books.
My thinking is usually I need to visually read the text for this genre - but this was offered up as an Audible daily special - so took a chance - and WOW... the narration read by ‘both’ women, ( Ann and Nancy), is outstanding.

A highly memorable WWII-audiobook-favorite!

...Extremely engaging!!!!!EASY - ADDICTING LISTENING...the type of story that involves readers so personally - the book never needs to end. I especially loved the historical part... but the modern part becomes equally moving the closer we get to the end.
...storytelling at its best!!!
...descriptions so visual - I felt like I was there.
...A lifetime of secrets - both in Poland and America
...suspense... twists and turns
...the two storylines work!!
...love, loss, family, relationships, autism, sacrifice, poverty, fears, horrors of the war, heartbreaking, heartwarming,
a little romance, laughter, and unexpected tears!
...Unexpected... POT of GOLD discovery....to like ‘another’ WWII story ‘this’ much!!!!

I’ve redeemed my ‘burn-out’ with WWII/Holocaust books!
Give me more like this one!!!

5 strong stars!!!
Profile Image for Erin.
2,955 reviews485 followers
March 24, 2019
Thanks to Netgalley and Harlequin-Graydon House Books for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review.

Well, this was such a great WWII era dual narrative that I am sure that it is going to be nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award later this year. In the contemporary storyline, you have Alice, a stay at home mother of two, who finds herself disconnected from her husband, criticized by her mother, and every day fighting on behalf of her special needs son. When her ailing grandmother, Hanna, pleads with Alice to make a trip to Poland, she soon realizes that neither she nor her family will ever be the same again.

In the 1938-1945 storyline, we have Alina, the youngest of four, who lives on the farm with her twin brothers and their hardworking parents in Poland. The story begins with Alina making a pledge to her childhood love, Tomasz, who is heading to Warsaw to study to be a physician. With the approval of their families, the couple agree to wait until Alina is older and Tomasz has completed his studies. But as time goes by and rumours begin to swirl that Hitler's army plans to cross the border into Poland and anti-semitism grows in the village below, Alina soon realizes that the life she knew no longer exists.

The tears that I cried as I read the climax of this story would probably rival the Niagara. Although Kelly Rimmer is an established author, this was my first experience with her storytelling and now I am hungry to read more. I felt that the author's note was deeply fascinating and the fact that it is inspired by some of Rimmer's own family history makes this book so memorable.

Goodreads review 24/03/19
Profile Image for Sharon.
986 reviews193 followers
April 19, 2019

I’m not sure what I can say about this outstanding book that hasn’t already been said. I like many other readers absolutely LOVED this book and found it extremely hard to put down. This was a dual timeline story and Aussie author Kelly Rimmer has done an exceptionally well job in constructing this part of the book as the story flows so smoothly between the two time periods making it not only an easy story to follow, but also a very enjoyable one.

Things We Cannot Say is a very moving, compelling and heartwarming story that covers many topics such as war, love, loss and friendship. I’ve mentioned in my reviews many times now that historical fiction is my favourite genre and once you read this book you’ll understand why. This would have to be one of my top reads so far 2019. If you haven’t read this book then please do yourself a favour and read this book. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Profile Image for Nicole.
731 reviews1,829 followers
April 25, 2021
3.5 stars

This wasn’t bad and I sort of get the high rating it. It’s just bad timing to read this book because I didn’t want to read more WWII books but my hold for the audio was up and had no other audiobooks to listen to.

The story is told in a dual timeline, something very trendy apparently nowadays in WWII books. One during the war in Poland and the other in the present day. And obviously, the two timelines will connect.

While I have to admit the WWII wasn't one I've previously read about, it didn't grab my attention. So we have a girl, Alina, who lives in Poland and is in love with Tomas since forever. They planned to marry then the war started. Her story, albeit no less sad, was tamer than the usual WWII books I've read. No, she's not forging papers nor involved with the resistance... she's just trying to survive day by day with her family. It was interesting in a way but I wasn't emotionally invested in her story.

I enjoyed the present day's plotline much more and I liked its characters. I'm becoming nowadays somewhat of a family drama fan thanks to the audiobooks I'm listening to and I suppose it was one of the main reasons why I found Kelly's perspective more complelling. I could see her inner struggle with her family especially since a stay-at-home mom, she had to quit her job to take care of her autistic son. The story got better when she decided to do something for herself for once and I found her relationship with her husband well developed.

As for the audiobook, I had a (minor?) issue with it. I am not sure if affected my enjoyment a lot but it's still worth mentioning. So we have a narrator for Alina and another for Kelly.
Alina's narrator read at a very slow pace. Her voice was also certainly not of a girl in her teens. It did not give me "historical/back in time” vibes it was aiming to convey (I suppose). It bored me instead.
Meanwhile, Kelly's narrator read at a much faster pace and her voice was fresh and full of life. I have to admit that made me look to her parts more than Alina's.

I usually speed up audiobooks, not a lot no more than 1.5x depending on the narration but here it was kind of tricky because having Alina's narrator read at a good pace meant that Kelly's was going too fast...

Otherwise, I liked the story of this book but it didn't leave anything with me hence why I rated it 3 and not 4 stars. I also do not think that I would've had a different opinion if I read at a different time because the WWII part didn't exactly tire me like in some recent cases. But it might have been the case.

March 30, 2021
The Things We Cannot Say is a heartbreaking, heartwarming hopeful story that explores love, loss, hardship, sacrifice and the relationships that bond people together. Through duel timelines, we see the bonds between a family and the things they cannot say and the things that bring them together.

What really stood out for me and what I really loved about this story was the compelling and emotional layered duel timelines and how they connected the story and the family. We see the historical side to the story and then a modern side to it. Each is strong, interesting stories with their conflicts and heartache that shape the people they are. Now usually I like the historical timeline a tad more however in this story I preferred the modern one. I am always intrigued by storylines that revolve around an illness or disorder etc and we see how that affects family dynamics.

The story comes together in an emotional and powerful ending that will surely have you reaching for tissues. After reading this one we were left a mess, cried a bit and then shared our thoughts with each other. This is the type of story to share with someone and I am glad to be able to share with Lindsay and a couple of our Traveling Sisters.

Thank you to Edelweiss, Graydon House and HarperCollins Canada for my copy to read and review!

Profile Image for Jeanette.
3,272 reviews557 followers
June 13, 2019
No rating. This has me listing as a DNF and putting on my abandoned shelf at page 87. It's Hallmark stereotype hyperbole crisis to switching crisis. Just exactly what I call Chick Lit. Effusive judgment and emotive volcanoes that I just fail to desire to climb. Victim hood stereotyping and the sanctimonious judgments twice as heavy as the stereotyping, coupled with virtue signaling both directions. Others tend to love a good cry?

Regardless, these characters do not have any depth or reality. I've figured out the connections within all the frenetic switching between time periods already on top of it. It's like a Perils of Pauline on ADHD. To counter the other most disliked fiction category (Wire Coat Hanger Parent Stories) I am going to now add another category. Period Chick Lit. Effusion Volcano will be its title.

On the back cover there are other authors' quips. This one is totally accurate:

"Kelly Rimmer has raised the already high bar with this unforgettable novel. Fans of Jodi Picoult and Kristin Hannah now have a new go-to author." Bestselling author Sally Hepworth

Hepworth hit the nail on the head. Those are the other two authors which I don't touch with a ten foot pole. Yes, I know others seem to love them. Chick lit. misery with YA writing. Coupled with strange social warrior, virtue signaling "eyes". Misery hill refrains all around without any deep characterizations of context or preamble.

There are a couple of sections I would have given a 1 star. This author knows little about the Polish forests of WWII era, that's for sure. She should have read some histories or non-fiction tracks about the physical and practical applications realities first.
Profile Image for Sharon Orlopp.
Author 1 book375 followers
April 4, 2023
Alice's grandmother, Alina, is 95 years old and near the end of her journey on earth. Alina survived WW II while living in Poland and immigrated to America. Alice has a 10 year old gifted daughter (Pascal) and a seven year old son (Eddison) on the autism spectrum.

As Alina's health declines and her ability to speak ebbs, she utilizes Eddison's adaptive technology on his I-pad to communicate her needs and wishes. Alina implores Alice to travel to Poland on a quest but the quest is unclear.

As a mother, Alice is an ultra-perfectionist and is very focused on ensuring a strict, consistent routine for her son in order to prevent or reduce meltdowns. Alice doesn't trust her husband, Wade, to be able to take care of their children while she travels to Poland.

The storyline is terrific because it unravels family secrets.

At times, Alice's character grated on my nerves because she put herself in the role of supermom and didn't think her husband was capable of handling their children. She came across as a whiner and uber-controller to me.
Profile Image for Jade.
375 reviews22 followers
December 27, 2018
I had to wait a few days after I finished this one to write a review. My feelings were so mixed I wanted to give them time to straighten themselves out and see if they went more towards yay or towards nay. I’m still confused so I’m going to explain why right here. I’ve read so many WW2 related novels, most based on fact or at least somewhat true to what may have happened during that time, so I sometimes feel some writers just rehash overdone storylines or, worse, overlook historical events for the sake of a storyline rather than integrity. When it comes to those aspects Kelly Rimmer was pretty much on track in her novel: the storyline is quite original in terms of where and when it takes place, and she also seems to have stuck very close to historical accuracy. I grew up with my stepfather’s family who were forcibly removed from their homes in Poland in 1940 and sent to Siberian concentration camps before being released and sent off as refugees with no home, and no country to call their own anymore, so a lack of historical accuracy would have made me stop reading the book.

I also liked the narrative style, with the two separate voices: Alina’s voice recounting her life and the events she lived through in Poland after the German invasion, and Alice’s present day voice as she navigates through her own life and then an unexpected trip to Poland. Kelly Rimmer is also a great writer, and she creates a wonderful vision of the little town in Poland, life under occupation, and also Polish farm life.

So why are my feelings so mixed? It was all just too easy, and fell into place so well. Just so predictable and slightly unbelievable too. So much of the story is based on the romance between Alina and her boyfriend Tomasz, that it actually becomes repetitive and slightly boring. Alina is portrayed as a hero when to me she is spoiled and scared of everything. Alice is even worse, I wanted to shake her several times and tell her to get out of her own head for a moment, put down the glass of whatever alcohol she was imbibing and pull herself together. So, as you can probably gather I wasn’t a fan of the characters really... And someone should have addressed the way alcohol is used as a crutch in the novel, because Alice definitely has a problem and no one seems to have an issue with it (or maybe I’m just sensitive to it having been amidst addicts all my life, I don’t know).

So, all in all, there were many things about the story that irritated me, some things I liked, but I still stayed up reading it way past my bed time, because I did want to see what happened in the end, even though I kind of predicted it. I think this novel will appeal to a lot of people, I just needed something a little meatier, a little less romance, and a little more depth for myself.

If you like romance, WW2 stories, and don’t mind a bit of predictability, you will probably enjoy this novel.

(Side note, as I had to mention this pet peeve of mine that really bothered me in the novel: it’s “dzień dobry” not “jen dobry”. I know that is not a big issue on the grand scale of things, but for accuracy’s sake the correct spelling of the Polish word should really be used.)

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy!
Profile Image for Sally Hepworth.
Author 17 books37.3k followers
November 4, 2018
Kelly Rimmer has raised her already high bar with this unforgettable novel. It is that rare author that takes the reader so deeply into a world that you smell the smells, feel the hunger, see the devastation.

Alina and Tomasz’s story is one of bravery, resilience, and the lengths we will go to for the ones we love. It felt so real to me that last night, when I finished reading, I cried for them. Not for myself, but for Alina and Tomasz. Also for the millions of people who lived this. Honestly, I have read so many books about this period that I was skeptical as to whether I could be shown anything new. I was.

If this book isn’t a giant bestseller, I will eat my hat. Fans of Jodi Picoult and Kristin Hannah now have a new go-to author.

I’m so excited to see what happens to this special book
Profile Image for Karen.
573 reviews1,114 followers
August 26, 2019
A family’s powerful story told in two timelines. One of the stories is in modern day America told by Alice and the other told by Alina (her beloved grandmother), taking place in America and her past inside occupied Poland during WW11.
Alina’s story was heartbreaking, she and Tomasz are childhood sweethearts.. the night before he leaves for college, he proposes.. shortly after their farming village falls to the Nazis. For quite some time she doesn’t know if he is alive or dead. We actually see most of Alina’s life story.
There are so many grim happenings in this story, Poland lost 6 million citizens during the war years 1939 to 1945..this is a story of so much sacrifice but so much love.
Profile Image for Brenda.
4,095 reviews2,664 followers
March 23, 2019
Alice was devastated when her grandmother, her beloved Babcia was hospitalized after a stroke. She and her mother were both aware Babcia was in her nineties and wouldn’t have much longer to live, and since Alice’s Pa had died, Babcia had become much more frail. When Babcia indicated to Alice that she wanted her to go to Poland to unearth the secrets from her past, Alice at first knew she couldn’t possibly make the journey. Her husband Wade was extremely busy with work, their seven-year-old son Eddie was severely autistic and needed her constantly. And ten-year-old Callie – how could Alice leave them all?

Alina and Tomasz, living with their families in the small town of Trzebinia in Poland, each knew they would be together forever. Before Tomasz left for college in Warsaw, he proposed to Alina and their families were delighted. But then the Nazis descended on the village and immediately lives changed and horror, cruelty and death arrived. Alina had no idea if Tomasz was alright; whether the war had even hit Warsaw – her heartache and worry was constant.

Alice’s arrival in Trzebinia showed a very different town to 1942. Her search of that past was aided by a guide who specialized in family history, and Zofia was a friendly and helpful young woman. But would they find any answers? Everywhere they looked they were met with dead ends. Alice was desperate as the time frame for her Babcia was shrinking…

As Aussie author Kelly Rimmer brings the heartbreaking past to life in The Things We Cannot Say, I was completely involved. The beautiful Polish countryside before the occupation; the hills and woods surrounding Trzebinia; Alina’s family of mother, father, twin brothers, sister and herself; Tomasz’s family – then 2019 and Alice and her family and the connections to a past they all knew nothing about. The Author’s Notes at the end of the novel were fascinating, as Rimmer explains where the idea for The Things We Cannot Say arose. This excellent historical fiction novel is a spectacular page turner which I devoured. Highly recommended.

With thanks to Hachette AU for my ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
315 reviews34 followers
March 18, 2019
Kelly Rimmer has done it again. If you haven’t read anything by this woman, I urge to pick up a book, any book, by her. She has a way of making you feel all the feels and leaves you with a pile of tissues beside you, but she doesn’t just rip your heart out, she sews it up and puts it back in its place.

This story is a little bit of everything; historical fiction, women’s fiction, domestic drama and a love story, all rolled up into one. The story alternates between Alice, in the present day and her grandmother, Alina in the late 1930’s, early 1940’s Nazi occupied Poland.

The Things We Cannot Say is a powerful book that kept me turning pages long after I should have been sleeping. I just can’t say enough about this book and the way that Rimmer continues to blow me away with her writing and story-telling.

I highly recommend this book to all lovers of historical fiction, domestic dramas and anyone who just loves a good, heartfelt story. It’s a story of war, yes, but it is also a story of love, hope, strength, courage and how two women, in two very different times, come into their own.

Thank you to Harlequin – Graydon House Books for my copy of this book via NetGalley
Profile Image for DeAnn.
1,317 reviews
March 29, 2019
5 outstanding historical fiction stars

This is a sweeping family saga that includes a poor farming community in Poland (very near to Auschwitz), a refugee camp in Soviet Russia, and the United States. There are all my favorite elements in this book: richly drawn and engaging characters, an historical backdrop that adds to the story, relationships that you are invested in and cheer for, and an ending that brought me to tears.

The main characters are Alina, a young woman when WWII breaks out, and Alice, a mother in the US. Like many historical fiction books, this one features a present-day storyline and alternates with one from the past. Usually, I enjoy the past/historical timeline much more. In this book, however, I found both storylines compelling and engaging.

In Poland, Alina and best friend Tomasz have grown up and fallen in love. They are engaged and Tomasz heads off to train to be a doctor in Warsaw. However, the events of the world conspire to threaten their romance and lives together. Their young love creates a strong bond that must overcome many obstacles. I was reminded that to the Nazis, Poles were one small step below Jewish people, and they were treated horribly. It was a time of despair and injustice, some took dangerous risks to hide Jewish people, and all struggled to find enough food to eat.

In the US, Alice is struggling with a demanding son on the autism spectrum, a gifted daughter, and a fragile relationship with her husband. Her Polish grandmother is very ill and would like Alice to fly to Poland to unravel some of her past. This is made more difficult because she never spoke of her time during the war in Poland and now, she has suffered a stroke and speaking is very difficult. Alice really wants to take this on for her grandmother but is worried about leaving her family behind to cope without her.

The two stories connect, and things reach an emotional summit during the trip to Poland. I recommend a box of tissues for the end of this book as the author totally engaged me in the fate of these characters. If you like historical fiction, read this book as soon as you can! I simply adored it and these characters will stay with me for a long time!

I adored the last Kelly Rimmer book that I read -- “Before I Let You Go” – also a 5-star read for me. I really want to read her earlier books. This is a favorite author of mine now.

Thank you to Edelweiss, Kelly Rimmer, and Graydon House for a copy to read in exchange for a review.
Profile Image for Esil.
1,118 reviews1,336 followers
April 7, 2019
The Things We Cannot Say is told in two timelines, like many historical novels these days. The earlier timeline is set during WWII, and told from Alina’s perspective. Alina is in her late teens, living on a farm in Poland, where she and her family are trying to survive after the Nazi occupation. The second timeline is told from Alice’s perspective. While Alice tries to juggle a complicated family situation, her 95 year old grandmother Hannah asks her to go back to Poland to find Tomasc. This doesn’t make sense to Alice, because her grandfather Tomasc died of dementia the year before. So from the get go, it’s clear that there’s a mystery in Alice’s family that is linked to Alina’s story. I absolutely loved the historical part of the story. Alina and her family are great characters, and Rimner really captures the different emotions they experience as they try to survive in such a crazy upside down terrifying world. I wasn’t as enamoured of Alice’s story line, although I really liked her trip to Poland. There was a lot of drama and chaos in Alice’s life that didn’t seem entirely necessary to telling Alina’s story. I especially didn’t like the depiction of Alice’s mother, who is portrayed negatively as an older ambitious feminist, who is too consumed by her work to properly care for her mother Hannah or her daughter Alice. But this was still well worth reading for Alina’s story. I quickly guessed the mystery, but that’s besides the point. I felt that Rimner did a great job depicting the atrocities and courage that come with war. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.
Profile Image for DJ Sakata.
3,036 reviews1,747 followers
April 1, 2019
Favorite Quotes:

There was nothing to bury, no body to conduct a service over. Instead, we heard that he was gone, and that was that… Nothing had changed, except that nothing was the same anymore, because once I had two brothers, and now I had one… Our oppression was loss without reason, and pain without a purpose.

I didn’t yet understand the horrific depths of the evil of the Nazi agenda— but somehow in the moonlight that night, I felt the loss of humanity, a very pause in the heartbeat of our shared existence on this planet.

War breaks us down to nothing more than our most selfish will to survive— but when we rise above that instinct, miracles can still happen.

Life has a way of shattering our expectations, of leaving our hopes in pieces without explanation. But when there’s love in a family, the fragments left behind from our shattered dreams can always be pulled together again, even if the end result is a mosaic.

My Review:

This captivating tale was my introduction to the breathtaking storytelling of Kelly Rimmer, and it was an exceptional and epic experience. I was immediately embroiled in the vastly different situations and timelines that consumed and defined Alice and Alina’s worlds, with each storyline cast with curiously and uniquely fascinating characters and circumstances.

The writing was craftily emotive, intriguing, and devastating. I was well and fully hooked and sat riveted to my Kindle while alternating between cringing, sighing, and occasionally gasping and gulping past the hot rocks in my throat. I was wrecked, gutted, and burning with indignation over the well-orchestrated and demonic cruelty perpetrated by the Nazis as a whole and at the individual level.

I cannot begin to imagine the massive amount of research involved to pull all the various historic and profoundly complicated elements together. However, I am even more impressed and completely awed by the elegance and mastery in finessing such a poignant and thoughtfully compelling narrative among the ghastly backdrop of occupied Poland in Alina’s timeline, as well as the emotional challenges and troublesome issues of dealing with a beloved dying family member on top of the harried day to day considerations involved in caring for the specialized needs of a child on the autism spectrum in Alice’s timeline. Ms. Rimmer’s original premise and intensely engaging storylines were brilliantly crafted and flawlessly executed. She has just acquired a rabid fangirl, for life.
Profile Image for Jean.
1,707 reviews742 followers
October 5, 2019
This is a World War II story. I guess you can call it a historical novel. The book grabbed me right from the start and kept me engaged through-out the story.

The book is well written and researched. It switches back and forth from the past to present. The characters are interesting. The past part of the story takes place in 1942 Poland. Alina Dzink is fifteen. She is in love with Tomasz who is away at collage in Warsaw. Then the Nazis come to her village. The present has Alice taking care of her grandmother, Alina, who has had a stroke. Alina wants Alice to return to her village in Poland. The book shows how war effects people even long after it is over. I had no difficulty keeping track when the story switched back and forth between past and present. The two narrators made it very easy with their different style of narration.

I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is thirteen hours and forty-two minutes. Ann Marie Gideon and Nancy Peterson do a good job narrating the book. This is my first experience with both the author and the narrators.
Profile Image for Annette.
763 reviews336 followers
November 2, 2021
The style of writing is drawn out, not the one I connect with.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 11,645 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.