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Things You Can't Say

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  177 ratings  ·  70 reviews
Perfect for fans of See You in the Cosmos and The Science of Breakable Things, author Jenn Bishop tells the moving story of a boy determined to uncover the truth.

Nothing is going right this summer for Drew. And after losing his dad unexpectedly three years ago, Drew knows a lot about things not going right. First, it’s the new girl Audrey taking over everything at the libr
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by Aladdin
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Average rating 4.38  · 
Rating details
 ·  177 ratings  ·  70 reviews

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Jenn Bishop
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I mean, I might be a *little* biased.
Colby Sharp
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, mg-novel
Kids are going to love this one! Check out my video review: ...more
Abby Cooper
Jul 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I adored this sensitive story about Drew. He's having a tough summer for a variety of reasons, and a new girl barging into his safe space (the public library - YAY libraries!) doesn't help. Bishop brings her usual humor and heart to this impactful novel about family, friendship, and loss. An important, necessary book that I believe should be on all library shelves.
Ms. Yingling
Dec 12, 2019 rated it liked it
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Drew lives with his librarian mother and younger brother in Rhode Island. The family is struggling with losing the dentist father to suicide three years previously. Drew has a good friend, Felippe, but spends most of his time working in the children's department of the library, reading his zombie versions of children's books to the younger patrons and generally helping out. He's irritated when summer starts and the offspring of another librarian starts to work in
Victoria Coe
Dec 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Things You Can't Say by Jenn Bishop is a heartfelt, moving story of a boy dealing with adolescence in the wake of his father's suicide. It's summer and Drew finds refuge by helping out at the public library, as he's done for the past three summers. But when his "sandbox friendship" with Felipe hits a rough patch, he starts to wonder if the new girl at the library - who at first is possibly invading his territory - is the only one he can talk to. Unfortuntely, the one thing Drew can't say to Audr ...more
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Things You Can't Say is a great story about things you must say, even when they are challenging. Great message for young people, especially boys.
Drew is a thoughtful guy, trying to take on a lot since the death of his father. At an age when several relationships are getting confusing, Drew has more feelings to figure out than most kids. How can a 12 year old figure out the world when so few things are going the way they are supposed to? Drew discovers he can't do it with his thoughts alone.
Richie Partington
Oct 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Richie’s Picks: THINGS YOU CAN’T SAY by Jenn Bishop, Simon & Schuster/Aladdin, March 2020, 336p., ISBN: 978-1-5344-4097-5

“Do you wake up one day wanting to kill yourself? Or is it something you think about first? For days, weeks, months. Years?”

“Questions, questions, questions, flooding into the mind of the concerned young person today. Ahh, but it’s a great time to be alive, ladies and gentlemen, and that’s the theme of our program tonight.”
-- from Frank Zappa, “Call Any Vegetable” (1971)

Kristin Crouch
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to the author for sharing an copy of Things You Can't Say with Collabookation.
From the cover to the last page, I loved reading Drew's story. When his father dies by suicide, Drew promises his grandmother that he'll be the man of the family~ and he stays true to this promise throughout his mother's debilitating grief and subsequent single motherhood. Drew is a good older brother, feeding and entertaining his little brother. But he is struggling with thoughts and feelings about his fath
Robin Kirk
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
This is such a lovely read. Drew is really struggling with losing a parent to suicide. When a mysterious old friend of his mother's comes to stay, he's beset by questions about his family. Bishop handles this tender story with great skill, drawing us into a very real and painful growing up that ultimately ends on a satisfyingly positive note.
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to the author for sending #bookportage an ARC of this book.

This is a great story about one boy’s attempt to come to terms with his dad’s suicide, and the feelings he’s kept bottled up inside that gnaw away at him. I will absolutely add this book to our library’s collection in the spring for many reasons, including the fact I couldn’t put it down.
Autumn Krause
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was able to read this book prior to publication and Bishop does not disappoint! I loved this searingly moving story and the ways it handles hard topics in an accessible way for the middle grade audience.
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Jenn Bishop does it again. A calm book about a difficult subject that we as adults too often don't want to think kids have to deal with. Well done characters, smooth plotting, and honest writing.
Afoma Umesi
Apr 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I adored this book! It’s one of those books I quickly realized would be a struggle to review because all I want to do is gush and put this book in everyone’s hands. Another book with such a memorable protagonist and also about death and grief is The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise which I also adored. Things You Can’t Say is a thoughtful, realistic, and heartwarming (oh, so heartwarming) book about dealing with a parent’s suicide and changing friendships. If you’re looking for a book th ...more
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had the privilege of reading an earlier version of Jenn Bishop's THINGS YOU CAN'T SAY and now this advanced reader copy and WOW! I love this book so, so much. It tells the story of Drew and his big summer of change. After his father's death three years ago, it's just been Drew and his mom and little brother Xan. Drew has taken on a lot of responsibility- both at home and in his volunteer job at the library. The delicate, uneasy normalcy he's created for himself is threatened by the arrival of ...more
Katie Reilley
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Jenn Bishop and Aladdin Publishing for sharing an ARC with our #bookexpedition group.

Drew’s had to grow up pretty quickly. After all, he lost his dad three years ago. But now his summer is off to a rough start. He’s always been a helper in the children’s section of the local library, but new girl Audrey (who’s AWFUL with kids) is invading his sacred space. Plus, he can’t really talk to his best friend Filipe about it, because Filipe is more interested in hanging out with older kids
Cindy Christiansen
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent voice & characterization. Drew’s thoughts & feelings made my heart hurt for him! ...more
Thomas Bell
Oct 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow, what a good book. Many books try to tackle a lot of issues, but this one does a good job of it. You could say it's about grieving. You could say it's about friendship. You could say it's about growing up. And you would be right. But...

I believe this book is about communication. Andrew is trying to understand whom he can talk to and why or why not. The author clearly realizes this, hence the title. But she did an excellent job of it, teaching us while Andrew learns himself.

I try to get ahead
Colin Bischoff
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Jenn Bishop provides a nuanced view inside the head of Drew, who is struggling with the uncertainty of growing up plus a heavy dose of family trauma. She really nails the ingrained tendency for boys (of any age!) to try to struggle through on their own, and the growth and healing that can occur when they work up the courage to open up. This might make it sound like a heavy-handed afterschool special, but the story pulls you along with both suspense and light-hearted moments.
Pam  Page
Apr 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Suicide is a tough topic in kids' books. A parent's suicide is even more difficult. Yet, Jenn Bishop wrote a story that will create empathy and may help children who have encountered Drew's situation. I thought the ending with Drew's friend shows the rippling effect of suicide, the far-reaching impact, and the benefits of forgiveness. Such a powerful story. Thanks, Jenn Bishop, for "speaking" to so many in need of this book!
Abby Johnson
A poignant look at one boy's life as things are changing in his family after his dad's suicide. This is definitely a book that validates the emotional life of boys as Drew navigates changing friendships and his mom's new male friend and life without a father at the time in his life when a father might be able to answer some questions for him.
Easily my favorite story yet by Jenn Bishop. I absolutely loved all of the characters and the plot had me guessing while tugging at my heart. I will absolutely be recommending this book to anyone who will listen. ❤
Jul 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Love Drew! What a real and vulnerable character. I was feeling for him even more throughout the Phil-mystery-possibility. Great story to generate compassion and empathy and a good discussion starter for the hard topic of suicide.
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Things You Can’t Say by Jenn Bishop, 321 pages. Aladdin (Simon), 2020. $18.

Content: G



For three long years Drew, 12yo, has had to deal with his Dad’s suicide. His saving grace has been the long summers helping out in the children’s room of the public library where his mom works. Then a new girl invades his space – who does she think she is? Then he gets in a fight with his supposed best friend and they aren’t speaking to each other. Then a su
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank you to author, Jenn Bishop, for providing an ARC to our book sharing group, Book Portage.

Things You Can't Say is a sensitive MG novel about hard topics. Drew is navigating new and changing relationships, while missing his father who died of suicide three years prior. Drew struggles to fully share his thoughts and feelings with anyone close to him. Things You Can't Say is an important novel about sharing our feelings (especially boys), family, and friendship.

I recommend Things You Can't Sa
Oct 09, 2019 added it
Shelves: read-in-2019
An intensely compassionate, engrossing story that dives deep into the mind and heart of a sensitive twelve-year-old boy as he tries to make sense of who he is and who he might become three years after his father’s suicide. This is a brave book that tackles a heartbreaking topic in an authentic and age-appropriate way, but it’s also funny and suspenseful, with fully realized characters and lots of relatable friendship and crush dynamics. THINGS YOU CAN’T SAY explores the complicated emotions that ...more
Laura Gardner
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My first review of a 2020 book! Thanks to author @buffalojenn for sharing this copy with @kidlitexchange! Out March 3, 2020, this book belongs on your pre-order list for spring!

I love books with a strong emotional core and sensitive, honest characters who are struggling with big feelings. Things You Can't Say is one of those books. I also love that Drew and Audrey volunteer in their public library; Drew's zombie storytimes sound SO fun. Highly recommended! .
Theresa Grissom
Dec 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4th, 5th, suicide
Thanks to Edelweiss for an ARC of this book.

Another great book from Jenn Bishop! I have not come across a middle grade book that deals with suicide. This is a tough subject but Jenn does it wonderfully and this book could be really helpful to those students that might be dealing with that issue. I'm looking forward to getting this one for my library.
Mar 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Tragedy struck three years ago. Things are changing for Drew and he has so many questions, thoughts, and what ifs. THINGS YOU CAN’T SAY by Jenn Bishop is a gem of a novel that poignantly and sensitively tackles loss (a suicide that happens off-page) and how it affects various aspects of twelve-year-old Drew’s life. Drew wanted it to be a normal summer of working in the children’s department at the library—something that brings him joy and an outlet for his creativity—but a trifecta of happenings ...more
Sharon Lawler
Sometimes the books that deal in “heavy” subjects will drag. Not this one. Yes, Drew the main character has a lot to think about, beginning with his concern that he will be like his father who appeared happy, but committed suicide three years ago. His best friend Felipe seems to be moving his friendship from Drew to a fellow member of the basketball team. Drew is a volunteer at the library and never fails to impress the younger set during story time. The bad news is a new volunteer, Audrey, is n ...more
Stacey DeCotis (Reading in the Middle Grades)
Thank you @simonkids for sharing @buffalojenn ‘s newest story with #bookexcursion

Readers of all types will love Drew’s coming to truth about his father 3 years after his father committed suicide. An oftentimes taboo subject, Jenn Bishop does a phenomenal job of letting us see through a 12 year old’s eyes as he learns that his father was more than the way he died.

When an unexpected old friend of Drew’s mom arrives before she can prepare Drew and his younger brother Xander, Drew starts to invest
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Jenn Bishop is the author of the middle grade novels 14 Hollow Road and The Distance to Home, which was a Junior Library Guild selection, a Bank Street College Best Children's Book, and an Editor's pick. She grew up in New England, where she fell in love with the ocean, Del’s frozen lemonade, and the Boston Red Sox before escaping to college at the University of Chicago. After working a ...more

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