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Things We Didn't Say

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  575 ratings  ·  298 reviews
Headstrong Johanna Berglund, a linguistics student at the University of Minnesota, has very definite plans for her future . . . plans that do not include returning to her hometown and the secrets and heartaches she left behind there. But the US Army wants her to work as a translator at a nearby camp for German POWs.

Johanna arrives to find the once-sleepy town exploding wit
Paperback, 416 pages
Published November 3rd 2020 by Bethany House Publishers
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Amy Green Hi Abby! Things We Didn't Say has a faith thread throughout it--the local pastor has to decide whether to let German POWs attend his church, and a cha…moreHi Abby! Things We Didn't Say has a faith thread throughout it--the local pastor has to decide whether to let German POWs attend his church, and a character muses on how to make sense of suffering and war, for example. It's not overt or preachy (a book club I spoke to whose members identified with a half-dozen different religions said it made for a fascinating discussion), but that's the reason for the categorization. I hope that helps!(less)

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Nov 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommended to MarilynW by: DeAnn
Things We Didn't Say by Amy Lynn Green

Outspoken, goes her own way, headstrong, Johanna Berglund, is a  linguistics student at the University of Minnesota, in I944, when she is asked to come back to her hometown to act as a translator at a camp for German POWs. When Johanna declines the offer several times, her scholarship is revoked, forcing her to go home and take the job.  Johanna had left her home, with plans to rarely return, due to sad memories and a falling out with her best friends, sever
Nov 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
This girl's got gumption!

Who would have thought that a WWII Christian historical fiction novel would make me laugh in more than a few places, but the heroine of Things We Didn't Say kept me smiling and you-go-girl cheering due to her "headstrong" nature throughout all 416 pages.

Comparisons to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society are apt, given the structure of storytelling solely through letters, newspaper articles, and speech transcripts. Readers learn early on that these communic
Nov 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
3.75 German POW stars

This debut novel is written in the epistolary style, which means the whole thing is letters, notes, etc. I’ve read a few books in this style and they usually make for an interesting tale! I would characterize this one as a religious historical fiction book. I was fascinated to read that there were some POW camps in the Midwest that housed German POWs. The Germans went to work on the harvest as many of the local farming men were off fighting in WWII.

The book centers around a
Jocelyn Green
Not everyone can pull off an epistolary novel. Amy Lynn Green is one of those who can, and with flying colors. Things We Didn't Say is on par with The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Johanna Berglund is one of the most vibrant heroines I've ever read, so smart, witty and surprising that I was laughing out loud in places--something I normally don't do during World War 2 novels!

Each character's voice is distinct and believable, each one carrying far more than the words they penned (
Sarah Sundin
Nov 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An outstanding debut novel, told entirely through letters and newspaper articles! Much will be said about the unique format of Things We Didn’t Say, but what truly shines in this novel are the characters. Outspoken and delightfully antisocial, Johanna sparkles with wit, but she also comes to see the heart and depth of the people around her—and the flaws within her own soul. With impeccable research, Amy Lynn Green casts a light on the POW camps in America during World War II and on the dangers o ...more
Melissa Tagg
Oct 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've waited and waited and waited to review Amy Lynn Green's debut novel, hoping that if I waited long enough I'd find the right words to do it justice. Well, this is me now surrendering, realizing that no amount of reader/reviewer fancy wordiness will ever truly sum up how I feel about Things We Didn't Say. So I'll do my best.

Bottom line: I loved it. I was awed by it. As a reader, I was so swept away I couldn't concentrate on my normal daily to-dos. As an author, I couldn't stop thinking about
Rachel McMillan
From Endorsement:

A fascinating excavation of a little known moment in US history executed with an inimitable voice and extremely clever style. Excessively readable, this winsome epistolary is underscored by a deep look at patriotism, prejudice, unwavering faith, duty and love. I guarantee you will not have a similar reading experience this year. Green's compassionate exploration of the many facets of forgiveness and humanity intersect a Japanese military intelligence instructor, deeply realized
Bonnie DeMoss
Feb 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
It is 1944, and Johanna Berglund has been accused of treason. She submits in her defense a collection of letters that will prove her innocence. The letters begin with Johanna as a linguistics student at the University of Minnesota. Fluent in German and several other languages, she is recommended to work as a translator at an Army POW camp near her home. She flatly refuses because she has other plans and dreams of going to Oxford. Pressure from the government and her parents eventually forces her ...more
Kellyn Roth
Jan 10, 2021 marked it as did-not-finish
This book was simply not for me! And that's okay. Some books aren't. This was a review copy that I didn't exactly know all the details about - now that I do (it's entirely epistolary, the main character has a very different background than I do as far as her faith goes, and I just don't find her amusing - she's sort of annoying to me!), I've decided that it's just not for me.

However, this book seems like it deals with some great political stances (approaching things from many different angles),
Susan Snodgrass
Oct 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was the first book I'd ever read that was written in the epistolary style. It was very different, but also very enlightening because the reader is allowed to get inside the characters' heads.

I confess I knew next to nothing about the German POW camps in the United States during World War II. I knew they were there and that's about it. My own uncle was a POW for thirteen months in Stalag 17 during the same war and was treated very horribly. Our own family never received any word from or abou
Lindsey (Books for Christian Girls)
3.5 stars.

About this book:

“Headstrong Johanna Berglund, a linguistics student at the University of Minnesota, has very definite plans for her future . . . plans that do not include returning to her hometown and the secrets and heartaches she left behind there. But the US Army wants her to work as a translator at a nearby camp for German POWs.
Johanna arrives to find the once-sleepy town exploding with hostility. Most patriotic citizens want nothing to do with German soldiers laboring in their
Ashley Johnson
Oct 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It’s not often that a debut novel really blows me away, but Things We Didn’t Say was absolutely amazing. I grabbed a digital copy of this book on a whim. It’s not my typical genre, but I’m always looking to try new authors. I was completely captivated by the writing style and characters. The story itself was completely engrossing and I was totally sucked in by the plot. This book has so many layers to it that I feel like it’s one I will be pondering for days. One thing that I was surprised by is ...more
Natalie Walters
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating historical read that taught me something I never knew. Author, Amy Lynn Green, creatively weaves a captivating story through letters giving readers the unique perspective of spying on a piece of American history. I think the best part of this story is learning about the role Nazi POW's had in our nation's history as well as what was happening on the Pacific front with Japanese sentiment after Pearl Harbor. The author does a great job creating page-turning tension with strong charac ...more
Dec 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What an AMAZING debut novel by Any Lynn Green! Honestly, I was a little skeptical, but this quickly became one of my favorite books of 2020!

I have never read a book quite like this - It is written entirely in letters, telegrams, etc amongst the characters. It takes a couple of chapters to get used to this type of writing, but just keep reading - It is so unique and wonderful!

In this novel, you will get set down into the little town of Ironside Lake, Wisconsin during WWII. You will experience wha
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am not sure what I expected when I picked up this book, but a literary collection of letters in the tradition of "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" was unexpected. A book written in this manner can either fall flat or be wildly successful, and I believe this one to be the latter.
The story, woven in letters, of a strong heroine without romantic interests, but longing for an education, to stand for what she believes in, come across very well. the German POW's along with the Jap
Having grown up in NW Iowa, I have heard of the German POW camps there, but never visited. I heard more of the Japanese internment camps because my aunt was born in a camp in California. But looking into the German POW camps, I did not know there were so many, and one that held some of the high officers was right here where I live now. I think it would be an interesting stop on a trip back home to see this museum. My son loves history, so I think he would love it just as much.

This is the story
Oct 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is Amy Lynn Green’s debut book, but you would never be able to tell. I’m now a fan! I loved that this is an epistolary novel. I also liked that each letter started out saying who it was to and who it was from. It made it easier to hear each person’s voice through their writing. I would recommend this book for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
Julie Carpenter
I've talked about my love of letter writing before in reviews, as well as growing up with a dear grandmother (and others) who were my pen pals. I love stories that bring back those memories as well as inspire me to continue writing letters (or emails) to friends and family. I was also pretty obsessed with learning everything I could about WWII when I was younger, having had several family members serve in the military during the war. I felt such a great connection to them as I did so.

I loved the
Kate Breslin
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I was charmed from the first page! This epistolary novel, told through letters, flowed seamlessly for me, with plenty of wit to keep me laughing and also a poignancy that at times took my breath away. Author Amy Lynn Green’s delightful characters will resonate with readers in this tale set in rural Minnesota during WWII. Quirky linguistics student Johanna Berglund is certainly a gem, and her life is never the same once she’s coerced into coming home to act as translator to the town’s new camp fo ...more
Nov 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Things We Didn't Say was a refreshing book for me because of its epistolary style. It didn't detract from my enjoyment of this novel at all. I thoroughly enjoyed all the letters and learning about all the characters, though I will admit that it was a challenge because I'm not used to getting to know people through letters. (at least not anymore!) Johanna was a strong character and I really liked that she wasn't afraid of being real and upfront. I didn't know what to expect of this novel but I do ...more
Nov 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Not only has Amy Lynn Green written a very memorable debut, I will say that this is one of my favorite reads of the year. I have only read a couple of epistolary novels and I can already imagine what a great audiobook this will make(my favorite way to experience epistolary novels).

With a fresh voice to fiction, the author pens an eclectic cast of characters through the various letters that surround a POW camp and the young woman who was at first unwillingly serving as translator. Ms. Green
Nov 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic novel. Amy is a talented author and I am excited to read more from her.
Nov 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
Unique debut!

Johanna Berglund is an opinionated linguistic student at The University of Minnesota. She is pressured into returning to her small hometown and serving as a translator at the German POW camp.

Through this epistolary novel, readers learn about Johanna, her friends and family and happenings in the town. Johanna's snarky humor comes through loud and clear in her communications. A bit more subtly readers see her heart.

Alleged crimes and POW mishaps keep the pages turning with this novel
Sep 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Amy Lynn Green, you have a new fan. I hadn’t read anything of yours before this, and after searching for other books, I had a hard time believing this could be a debut novel. Things We Didn’t Say is truly an excellent, well written story. While I am no author, I would imagine that writing an entire novel as an amalgamation of letters would be challenging. But the level of creativity here exceeds most books I’ve read lately. The characters are well thought out, and the plot carefully planned. The ...more
Small Town America during WWII becomes a hot bed of unease, intrigue and accusations when a POW camp is placed there and one of their own- a fiery, independent prodigal- returns to work at the camp as a translator. A debut epistolary novel captivated and I will feel the effects for some time to come.

Johanna Berglund is a brilliant linguistic student at the University of Minnesota with dreams of going to Oxford for further language studies. She is impulsive, outspoken, and can be abrasive with he
Dec 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Don't hold on so tightly to one idea of what you want that you don't let God push you in another direction."

Linguistics student Johanna Berglund is brilliant, determined, a bit cynical and overly headstrong; in other words, she clutches her dreams for the future very tightly, dreams which include post graduate work at Oxford University in England, among other things. So when she is forced (according to her) to choose between changing directions (serving her country) or losing her coveted colle
Amanda Tero
Nov 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I am not a huge fan of epistolary novels and was not aware that this was one when I requested it to review. However, that preference aside, I really did enjoy this story. I know that it is a challenge to tell a complete story through letters alone, yet I feel like it was really well done. There were a few parts where the story dragged, but then there were parts where I totally did not want to put it down.

It was fascinating to emerge into the world of POW camps and letter censoring of WWII. I enj
Dec 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this debut novel from author Amy Green. Things We Didn't Say is an epistolary novel made up of letters, newspaper clippings, and correspondence between friends and neighbors. I was intrigued by the strong voices each character has in the letters they write as a small town grapples with a German POW camp coming to their home.

Of those strong voices, our main character, Joanna, has the most distinctive voice of all. She writes with conviction and isn't afraid to say what she thinks
Erin Laramore
Oct 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was utterly fantastic! I will start by saying that it is an epistolary novel (told in the form of letters, telegrams, and notes, etc.). Some people don't like that style because it generally is difficult to tell a story well in that manner, but Ms. Green overcame that obstacle beautifully. The story was told well in that format, without taking the reader out of the method or making the letters sound un-letter-like. That this was set in the 1940s when letter writing was the best way to ...more
The synopsis for this book sounded so amazing, as it is on a subject you don’t hear much about: the German prisoners of war in USA camps. And I learned so much about it, reading this book and I loved that! However, I have to admit that I didn’t like the style. This book is made entirely out of letters, and that really put me off, I couldn’t connect to the characters even though Johanna’s letters are amazing and witty with fun facts thrown in. But for me, it didn’t work and with every letter from ...more
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Amy Lynn Green is a publicist by day and a novelist on nights and weekends. History has always been one of her passions, and she loves speaking with book clubs, writing groups, and libraries all around the country. Her debut novel, Things We Didn't Say, received a starred review from both Booklist and Library Journal and was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Awards in genre fiction. Amy and her hu ...more

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