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The Story That Cannot Be Told

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  350 ratings  ·  112 reviews
A middle grade debut that weaves together folklore and history to tell the story of a girl finding her voice and the strength to use it during the final months of the Communist regime in Romania in 1989.

Ileana has always collected stories. Some are about the past, before the leader of her country tore down her home to make room for his golden palace; back when families had
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 8th 2019 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (first published October 1st 2019)
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Average rating 4.37  · 
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Ileana loves to collect stories, and she has a very large number to share. The issue is that stories can be dangerous where she lives. Her uncle has experienced this first hand as he’s been missing since the publication of one of his stories. Now, when the family’s safety is put at risk in Bucharest, they send Ileana away to live with her grandparents for a time. Here Ileana discovers that there’s so much she never knew.

The setting is Communist Romania in the late 1980s. It’s such a difficult ti
Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun)
One of my favorite middle grade books I've read for a long time!
Cory Leonardo
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is about as perfect as it gets. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on an ARC, and it was un-putdownable. Think Wolf Hollow, Beyond the Bright Sea, and The War That Saved My Life and add folklore, political unrest, and Communist Romania of the 80's. Ileana is a heroine to root for, and the book's remarkable discussion about truth and the power of books and story is one we need now more than ever. I can't wait to have this one prominently displayed on my shelf.
Naomi Milliner
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reminiscent of THE BOOK THIEF, this incredible debut novel is harrowing and hopeful - sometimes even humorous. Ileana, its young heroine, is someone you will fall in love with, and her story is one that MUST be told.
Celia McMahon
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate enough to gain access to this story via Edelweiss and the publisher, but I first had this book on my radar via Twitter. I thought, how oh how can I beg for an arc of this book? Luckily, Edelweiss got it soon after, and I gobbled it up. To say that this book was amazing, wonderful, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, etc. is an understatement. THE STORY THAT CANNOT BE TOLD took me through a time in history that I was not well educated on and wove together fairy-tales and a heroine up ag ...more
Ms. Yingling
Aug 15, 2019 rated it liked it
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Had quite an evening of books I liked that my students would let gather dust.

Romania in 1989. Very interesting. Liked the characters and the glimpse into their world. However, it is an unusual historical period, and the reliance on tales slowed this down from time to time. Also, a bit on the long side.

This would go well with Nielsen's Words on Fire, but since I seem to have completely lost my readership for folk tales (students also don't know Mother Goose, which is su
Shaye Miller
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is J. Kasper Kramer's middle grade debut and WOW did it knock my socks off. I HIGHLY recommend! It's longer than the typical middle grade read and there are such complexities that the young adult and adult crowd may enjoy it even more. So I'd aim more for upper middle grade and older. The writing often reminded me of The Bear and the Nightingale, if you're familiar with Arden's beautiful word-weaving and folklore.

Ileana loves to share stories and change them when they aren't exciting enough
Joshua Levy
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How do I describe THE STORY THAT CANNOT BE TOLD? Yes, it's about Ileana and her family, who live in 1980s Communist Romania. When Ileana's parents send her away to live with her estranged grandparents in a rural village--all is not as it seems. What Ileana thinks she knows, she doesn't. As J. Kasper Kramer's expertly-crafted book unfolds, the tales that Ileana tells us may or may not be true. What seems fantastical is, in many ways, quite real. And reality is colored by experience and perspectiv ...more
Kim Smejkal
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh my goodness, this book. I lucked out and got my hands on an arc, but I will be buying this for my children AND my parents when it releases. Truly, this is a story all ages will treasure.
Jennifer Stewart
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is excellent. The blending of history and folklore from a child's perspective is wonderful. This is a great book for any age reader.
Mar 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Story That Cannot Be Told is set in communist Romania. The people of Romania are herded together in cities and are constantly on watch as they do not know who of their neighbors might be a government informer.

Ileana is a storyteller and her stories do not fit the narrative sanctioned by the government. When her stories threaten her family’s safety, her parents send her to live in the mountains with the grandparents she’s never met.

This is such a charming story. Ileana’s story telling is pres
Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I’ve ever read before. Perfect in every way.
Laura Gardner
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Sometimes the words that you say aren't what's important. Sometimes what's important are the words that you hide."
Thank you to @simonkids for the free book to share with #kidlitexchange. This 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟/5 book is out 10/8/19. Debut by @jkasperkramer .
I was captivated by this historical novel about 1989 Romania. Ileana lives in a world heavily controlled by the Communist government; food is heavily rationed, media is censored and anyone who criticizes the government faces imprisonment, tortu
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, kids
Breathtaking and beautifully written, THE STORY THAT CANNOT BE TOLD tells the story of Ileana, who lives in Communist Romania in 1989. When political strife hits way too close to home, Ileana is relocated to her grandparents’ remote mountain village—which is not as safe as her parents hoped.

This is a story for those who love adventure, history, political intrigue, folklore, friendships, family, and, above all, those who love story. I was on the edge of my seat and/or wiping away tears and/or la
Kim Swanson
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
a young adult masterpiece, that has bearing in this world as well as the past. pulls no punches as it places you in danger. you’ll appreciate not being talked down to but being included in this story that can’t be told. don’t try to rush it. i thought for sure a two day read. some scenes are like earthquakes. it’ll knock you off your feet. take your time. it won’t disappoint.
There are many books that combine a folktale with a realistic storyline, but I don't remember ever reading one that does it as well, or as beautifully, as "The Story That Cannot Be Told." The first (and main) story is of Ileana, a young girl in Communist Romania, in the late 1980s. Her uncle, a poet, is imprisoned or dead because of his anti-government writings, and her whole family is under suspicion and in grave danger.

Ileana is sent to the countryside to live with her grandparents but safety
Ruth Ann Lingwall
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love finding a read aloud that is entertaining and teaches about cultures, values, or history. The Story That Cannot Be Told did all three. Reading it as a family or class provides an excellent chance to talk about concepts of choice and individuality, how to treat others, and the role of government in our lives.

All my kids, except my toddler, found this book quite interesting. My second grader, Rebekah, stayed to listen most of the time but decided the book was just okay. The other children,
Bonnie Grover
“Once a story is told, it stays with you forever.” I have always been interested in books that deal with communistic government. Food is rationed, media is censored, and no one dares speak out against the government. Fearing for their daughter’s safety, Ileana’s parents send her to live with the grandparents she’s never met because Bucharest, Romania is no longer safe. This book is filled with historical facts and interspersed with folk tales. The unforgettable stories serve to highlight the sig ...more
Tanya Knepp
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the biographical feel of this story and the way folk stories and Romanian history was woven throughout. This would be a great way to introduce children to what it would have been like to live under a Communist regime.
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Once upon a time, there was an historical, adventure, fairy tale about a brave girl living in Romania under an evil dictator and a 1989 revolution. Wow.
Jan 21, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: romania
I have a feeling this will just make me angry--author isn't Romanian, nor has she visited Romania. Apparently this book arose out of conversations with Romanian expats in Japan; a bit of a red flag, that. Last time I read a US writer's attempts at fictionalizing Romanian history, it swung between hilariously inaccurate/unresearched to dumb and kind of offensive. Hopefully this won't be any of that?
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Set in 1989 Romania at the peak of the Ceausescu's oppressive regime, this extraordinary debut weaves history, storytelling, family and the power of words into a spellbinding story.

When 10-year-old Ileana discovers listening bugs secreted in her apartment, her terrified parents secretly send her away to a distant mountain village to stay with the grandparents she has never met. Ileana and her father had shared a deep love of storytelling and writing and Ileana spent much of her time deeply engag
Kelly Coon
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Part Romanian folklore, part historical fiction, this tale of Ileana battling monsters—both real and imagined—against the backdrop of a Communist regime is absolutely breathtaking. The prose flowed beautifully, and the story itself was heartbreaking and hopeful. I read it cover to cover in two sittings (almost impossible for a woman with three kids and a full time job!!)
Oct 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A historical MG about the fall of the Ceaușescu regime in Romania? Yes, please. This is a setting I've not seen before, and I loved the way it not only felt immersive and authentic, but the way it built on the folklore and fairy tales of the region, adding a hint of magic to the main story. Must read for historical fans!
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An inside look at living under Ceausescu. Ileana has to leave Bucharest and live in the mountains with her grandparents to be safe from arrest -- for telling stories. This book has intense moments. This was a time of great oppression and it was just thirty years ago that Ceausescu was overthrown! My husband's parents sponsored a Romanian immigrant in the early 1980's. His harrowing escape is a part of our family story. Stories like this remind us all of the freedoms we must not take for granted. ...more
Rajani LaRocca
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully told, richly woven story about a girl and her family living in communist Romania. The combination of the bleak oppression of the government and the immersive folktales is mesmerizing. Kids and adults alike will root for brave Ileana learning to find her voice and her power in dark times.
Jennifer Camiccia
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is fabulous!! Ileana is a storyteller in communist Romania at a time where telling stories is incredibly dangerous. I loved how the author used folklore in a way that complimented the main story. Incredibly touching and beautiful—a definite must read!!
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
@kidlitexchange #partner thank you to author @jkasperkramer and publisher @simonkids for sharing a review copy of The Story That Cannot Be Told with the #kidlitexchange network. All opinions are my own. This book came out beginning of October and I highly recommend getting a copy!

The Story That Cannot Be Told is a beautifully written book weaving together a piece of Romania’s history and it’s folktales. Told from the point of view of Ileana, a teenager living in Communist Romania, it is a tale o
Carol Royce Owen
Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Story That Cannot Be Told was an interesting story about a young girl, Ileana, who considered herself a collector of stories. She enjoyed spending her days writing in the Great Tome, an ever growing book of stories she had heard, stories she had heard and changed, and stories she had made up. The problem with this, however, was that she lived in Romania and it was the late 80s. The country was ruled by a communist regime and everywhere there were spies who would turn people in for speaking a ...more
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ileana was a storyteller who collected stories, but stories were dangerous in Communist Romania. When her uncle disappears and their apartment was bugged, Ileana’s father destroyed her book of stories that she had been collecting for years in order to protect them all. Then her parents decide to send Ileana off to live with her maternal grandparents whom she has never met. The rural village is very different from the city that Ileana grew up in. After a period of anger, she gradually adjusts to ...more
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