HEARTSTOPPER meets FOOTLOOSE in this cute young adult romance about first love, embracing what makes you different, and standing up for what you believe.
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Jacob Walters′s dad has worked to make his son′s life a living hell. But when the cute new transfer student suffers his father′s wrath, Jacob must make the hardest decisions of his life.
Skylar Gray is adopted, nonverbal, and he feels most comfortable wearing skirts. Life has never been easy, but with a fresh start at a brand-new school, with new parents and in a new state, he just might finally make some friends. Maybe. Honestly it′s hard to focus on anything when gorgeous rocker boy Jacob is around. But it′s hard for Skylar to trust anyone when people have always been quick to ditch him at the first inconvenience; they always seem more than ready to judge him as defective. And the bullies love to confirm it. Skylar has only ever had himself, so why would anything be different this time? Especially for an anxious boy with literally no voice.
Jacob doesn′t give a damn, especially not since he came out over the summer. He expected the hate he got from his father, who mostly acts as if it never happened, but he refuses to let it hold him back. It doesn′t matter, Jacob′s over it. He's going to paint his nails, dye his hair, and strike a heavy riff on his guitar if he wants to, even if it means being grounded most of senior year. But when the cute nonverbal transfer student, Skylar, wears a skirt to school, prompting a sexist new dress code proposal, Jacob decides it′s time to take a stand, no matter the risk to himself.
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TW: Homophobia & Homophobic Slurs, Bullying, Sexism, Ableism, Religious Trauma
Jordon Greene grew up in a small southern town in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains just south of Boone, North Carolina. He is an alumni of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a B.A. in Political Science and now works at the nation′s largest privately owned shoe retailer as a full-stack web developer. While not writing, Jordon spends most his time watching Schitt′s Creek and Queer Eye re-runs, overthinking something simple, or playing trivia at the local coffee shop. He lives in Kannapolis, NC with his cat Genji.
Jordon Greene is represented by Eva Scalzo of the Speilburg Literary Agency.
Content Warnings: homophobia, religious bigotry, ableism, bullying, unchecked racism, different ableism but unchecked, unchecked slut-shaming, minor unchecked joke/mention of sex trafficking because that's funny
If you've seen my reviews or ratings from any of this author's previous books, you're probably wondering why I even read this one. That's fair! I played tf out of myself. The pretty cover art and hype on Bookstagram got to me- I was so sure, like I had been with the second book in this universe, that this one would be better.
And in a way, it was. This book at least wasn't transphobic and antisemitic.
This book is riddled with harmful unchallenged stereotypes. Jordon Greene's main characters say shitty and offensive things, and for what? To seem cool and interesting? You don't get a pass to be racist, misogynistic, ableist, and slut-shaming because you're gay. Sensitivity readers exist to call you out for this, but either one wasn't used or the first few drafts of this were rough.
Beyond that, the story itself was fine. The writing exclusively tells the reader everything rather than showing them; a choice I hate, but know others don’t mind, notice, or might even prefer. I found all of the characters' personalities undeveloped and their actions felt like what would move the plot the way the author wanted it to rather than something they'd actually do. For example, the big third-act conflict was the most contrived dramatic quarrel and absurd fallout. And then the resolution was literally "He really did like me all along, it's so clear now." after the forgettable grand gesture. I literally lol'd reading that sentence.
Ultimately queer fiction like this does more to hurt the queer community than it helps. We deserve better than homophobic abuse and bullying torture porn (ie: the entire Noahverse) of shallow unlikable and frankly problematic cis-white gay characters that make jokes about getting "hate-crimed" more than once and refer to the singular black female character as "sassy" at first meet. So, third time's the charm; I have officially learned my lesson with this author and won't be reading anything more from Jordon Greene. It's a shame too because the covers for this book and his next, This I Promise You are so pretty.
Sometimes I read a book that brings a constant smile to my face because it’s incredibly heartwarming and uplifting. So much so that I don’t even care about the minor details I liked less or frowned upon. Every Word You Never Said is such a book.
Let me start with the exterior of this book because the hardcover is just amazing! It basically consists of two different covers, a beautiful dust cover and a different and even more gorgeous naked hardcover. So, if you’re thinking of buying this book, please choose the hardcover instead of the paperback or the ebook. Or you could do as I did 😂, first purchase the ebook and then decide that you desperately need the hardcover after all!
People who have been following me for a while know that I have a soft spot for cute cinnamon rolls. And what’s better than to have two of those as MCs in a book? Sky is so sweet with his skirts, and even though he’s anxious at times, he dares to be himself. At first, Jacob seems a harder nut to crack, but underneath that fully in black rocker image lies such a beautiful soul. Of the two, he’s definitely the sweetest of the sweetest cinnamon rolls!
Despite being quite fluffy, this book covers some really harder-hitting topics and responds to current right-wing political views on LGBTQ+. Keep in mind that there’s a lot of homo(queer)phobia and bullying in this story. But if you can handle these triggers and need a positive boost or just want to dream away and smile, and love to let a warm feeling flooding your chest, please pick up this sweet, fluffy, and touching story!
This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2022, and I’m so sad it ended up being disappointing… 😭💔 Please don’t let my review deter you from reading this book, though. I definitely still think it can be enjoyable to someone else!!!
Representation: The 2 stars are solely because of the representation. By far the best part of this book.
For starters, we rarely see any nonverbal characters in media, so having one being the main character of a YA LGBT romance is huge! I can’t speak for the accuracy, but I can say I really liked seeing this specific disability portrayed, and I hope to see more nonverbal rep in the future!
I also really love that Skylar likes to wear skirts and makeup. Once again, it’s something we don’t see a lot of, even in more progressive and diverse books/movies/shows, so it was really nice to have a gender non-conforming MC.
Lastly, I like that both Skylar and Jacob already knew they were gay. There’s nothing wrong with LGBT books where the characters discover themselves (I love those kinds of books too!), but it’s quite refreshing to read a story where both MCs already know who they are, and simply fall in love, without panicking or questioning their sexualities.
Romance: Aff………. The romance……. was shit y’all. I’M SO SAD!!! 😭😭😭
Basically, Skylar and Jacob meet….. and feel this immediate attraction to each other… 🙄 Like… Okay. I get it. Sometimes you see a pretty person and you think they’re attractive. Sure. I wouldn’t have minded if they simply found each other hot and later, once they actually got closer, they fell in love. That’s not what happens, though!!! What actually happens is they start liking each other immediately. Like, they literally speak 3 times (and not even about themselves! They know nothing about each other!!) and already have a crush and want to kiss…????????????
Love at 1st sight is bad enough as it is (I despise it!!!). But this book was worse, because not only did they immediately start liking each other, but also, as the story progressed, there were no other reasons for them to be together! I read the whole book and the only reason I can find for them to “like” each other is: they find the other hot.
5% into the book they were crushing on each other because the other was cute, and by the end of the book they’re supposedly in love because….. the other is cute, I guess??? There was no development, no reason for them to be together, no chemistry, their “banter” wasn’t even funny… Everything felt forced. What a shame. 🙁🙁🙁
I also hated that this book has the stereotypical
Plot: Other than the romance, there’s barely any plot.
Skylar makes friends at school, but honestly there’s barely any development there. They’re just nice enough to sit with Skylar at lunch, and then they’re somehow super close. They were sweet and supportive, but honestly I didn’t care about either of them, and I also didn’t care when they . Jacob’s friends were even less developed than Skylar’s, so, once again, I didn’t care at all.
Skylar’s parents were super sweet!!! There aren’t a lot of people who would want to adopt a gay, non-verbal boy who wears skirts. They’re probably the most understanding adoptive couple out there, and I would’ve loved to see the development of their relationship with Skylar. Unfortunately, though, Skylar was just adopted at the start of the book, so we never actually got to see their bond being formed, which in my opinion was a wasted opportunity.
There was also the whole fight against the conservative people at school who wanted to stop Skylar from wearing skirts, which is definitely a very important subject to tackle. However, for some reason, when the confrontation actually happened (at the end of the book) I just……. didn’t care. 😬 Idk why. Perhaps I was just done with the book, at that point. 😪
Jacob’s family and body issues were also barely explored, so… 🤷🤷🤷
Writing: It wasn’t that bad, but there were a few things that bothered me.
Firstly, the amount of pop culture references. It’s realistic that teens bring these things up in conversation, but honestly they served no purpose and just seemed cringy.
There were numerous examples of sentences that felt like they should be dialogue but were actually just narration, like: “You didn’t take me as a reader? All right now. Just because I’m in a band doesn’t mean I don’t read.”. This example wasn’t something the character said out loud, or even a thought in italics or anything. It was just regular narration. And there were so many examples of this. Perhaps it doesn’t make sense without reading it in context, but I definitely noticed this weird thing happening a lot.
Sometimes it felt like the author was “telling” instead of “showing”. For example, Skylar teaches Jacob how to ride a bike, but we never actually get to see that. They go on a dates (to a concert, to a café), but again, we don’t see much of it. They also seem to text a lot (particularly, they have a conversation about ~being intimate~ with each other – discussing whether they want to do it, and how to be safe), but we also never get to see it either. Not only is this bad because it’s “telling instead of showing”, but also because it’s a missed opportunity to let the readers see their relationship develop (which is something I really would’ve liked to see, since I really don’t buy their “love” for each other as it is lmao 🥴).
Also, some strange and cringy lines: “it makes his hotness both hot and cute at the same time.” What?? 🥴 “I would be the L [in LGBT] but some of the guys and theys are just too yummy.” 🤨 Um….. Anyways. “He just has this innocent little vibe, and honestly, a dump truck that would make anyone jealous.” (mind you this was 15% into the book – they talked like, once) 😬😬😬
The characters also used the f-slur a lot. The MCs call themselves f-words so many times, and in both POVs it’s really emphasized that gays can use this slur, which like… it’s factually correct, and possibly realistic that they’d use it (idk?). But to me it was a little jarring. That’s all.
Basically every character called each other a “bitch” too, and like… I also call my friends “bitch” sometimes, but, once again, they used the word a lot, and I didn’t really feel like they were *that close* yet, so it felt weird every single time lol.
Lack of confidence: Both MCs lack confidence in their own way.
Jacob is self-conscious about his appearance (although it only comes up when it’s related to Skylar being into him… okay). Don’t get me wrong: I totally understand disliking the way you look (I do too lmao) but in this book the issue is never actually explored. Jacob just whines about being “too pale and skinny” for Skylar to ever like him (as if skinny white e-boys aren’t the beauty standard in 2022 🥴). It’s not really body dysmorphia, and he isn’t even unattractive (he’s literally always described as super hot!!!). It honestly just felt like Jacob was throwing himself a pity party.
Skylar’s lack of confidence is more understandable. He was thrown out by all of his previous foster families, he’s gay, wears stereotypically feminine clothes and he is disabled – and he’s bullied for all of these things. It actually makes sense that he doubts anyone would ever want him. However it started being *too much* when he complained every single chapter that “he’d never experience romance” and “no one would ever ask bot boy out”.
Once again: his struggle and doubts are very valid and understandable, but it almost became a joke when it started being mentioned every chapter. It wasn’t even an internal struggle anymore, because he brought it up every single conversation. And it never came up naturally. It was written in a way that made it seem like Skylar just wanted people to pity him. I could honestly imagine him sighing out loud waiting for someone to ask him “What’s wrong?” so he could monologue about his internal conflict. It felt unnatural and cartoonish, which is a shame, because his struggles are very realistic and important to tackle!!!! And I really wanted all that to be unpacked! But I just feel like in the end it wasn’t done in a great way. (Also, did the love of 1 boy cure all his confidence issues??? Okay…..)
Other stuff: • The cover and the chapter headers are super pretty!!!
• Why the focus on sex??? Like, these people have known each other for 2 weeks and are already trying to guess who’s a “top” and a “bottom”????? 🥴 Idk, maybe I’m just wired differently, but that whole thing was weird lmao
• This book had a lot more homophobia / ableism / bullying than I expected. Not necessarily a bad thing – it’s probably realistic, unfortunately – I just wasn’t expecting it.
• How does this e-boy know about Vic Fuentes and a bunch of emo bands but has never even heard of My Chemical Romance??? Bullshit.
• "sassy black girl" was used like 5 times lol
• one of the characters likes Sarah J Maas.... 🤢 no comment
Okay, there's a lot that goes on in this book that I thought was okay, but there's even more that was NOT okay.
First, the characters.
Skylar Gray: The biggest thing for me was the fact that he in nonverbal, adopted, queer and has been bullied for all that and bounced around from foster home to foster home but still retained his kindness towards people.
Jacob: Living in a homophobic household is hard and having the courage to come out. Like Sky, there’s a lot Jacob struggled with. He knew that his actions would have consequences. Not only at school, but especially at home with his dad. Regardless of it all, he pushed forward and took a stand for what he felt was right.
Now, onto the bad.
There was a lot in this book that I feel like required sensitivity readers. I don't know if the author just missed them but there are endless ableist, misogynistic, racist comments in this book that it really did not need. Not that any book needs any of that, but some authors use such things to move the plot forward, whereas in this book, they were just there. Jacob is not a great person in the book. Things between him and Sky move insanely fast (which, was okay, ig? but not really what I've seen/experienced in high school, but everyone is different so moving on.) and after they sleep together, Jacob basically abandons Sky? There's a mishmash of tropes in this book and they just didn't fit well together. Jacob is the stereotypical high school, bad boy. Skylar is the shy new kid. Jacob turns nice for Sky, they get together, Jacob turns bad again (?) and then he does this huge romantic gesture to get Sky back and it works, because why wouldn't it. Among it all, this book is littered with ableism, racism and just so, so much more. I don't think I can read something by this author again.
Every Word You Never Said is the perfect YA mix of sweet and romantic, with a dash of small-town drama thrown in to boost the angst-o-meter to an entertaining and engaging degree.
In a lot of ways, this reminded me of queer YA books I read and loved years ago, like those written by John Goode or Madison Parker, featuring strong leads, fighting for inclusivity and social justice, and falling in love while facing-off against school bullies and bigoted adult figures that need to calm the f*ck down and live and let live.
The overzealous Christian parents and townsfolk cause most of the emotional upheaval in the background of this story—so be forewarned, those who detest such intolerance—as teenage queer leads, Skylar and Jacob, go through all the highs and lows of first love, while trying to fit in and be their most authentic selves in a world that tries to knock them down at every turn.
Yes, the crazy, fanatical side characters and random townspeople were hella frustrating and rage inducing, during the sporadic scenes they were in to cause a fuss, but, for the most part, the tone of this book was lighter than I expected, which is due in large part to some of the fantastic side characters, like all their friends and Sky’s AMAZING adoptive parents, who showed up time and time again to renew my faith in humanity and support Sky and Jacob unwaveringly in all matters.
Besides the great secondary cast and the sweet “first-love” romance, I also appreciated all the representation explored in this book. From the way Sky’s non-verbalism was depicted, to how his gender non-conformity was explored, to the way friend Imani’s pansexuality and wiccan beliefs were portrayed… I appreciated it all, and more.
Now, it’s been said the stories in the Noahverse can be read as standalones, and they most certainly can because I just proved it, but I also feel like I would have greatly benefited from having read at least book one (A Mark on My Soul), because, although the themes and outcome of that book scare me, I feel it would have added a better layer of understanding and appreciation towards what these kids were experiencing in this deeply religious community. I have no doubt, having now briefly met some of the previous MCs, that I will be taking the time to course-correct my series reading here in the near future.
Overall, this was an emotional and engaging YA romance, that made me think, feel and fall in love with love.
I finally decided to DNF this book, because I don't think I can physically bring myself to read any more. The disability representation in this book was poorly done, to the point it was offensive, especially when the R-slur was used so casually. It felt as though the author didn't actually understand anything about being non-verbal and hadn't bothered to properly make sure the representation was good.
Other reviewers who managed to read more than me have also pointed out a stereotyped Black character, and how poorly sexism was handled.
I was so disappointed as this was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, and I requested an arc from the author directly.
This was such a sweet and wholesome and also poignant and important contemporary story.
Skylar is nonverbal, gay, very unsure of his place and having anything of permanence in his life. I adored Skylar. He didn’t always make the best choices but he was a 16 year old experiencing things like family, friends, love, and belonging for the first time in his life. He also loves wearing skirts and pretty clothes, which starts causing a commotion within the school community.
Jacob is also gay but has a seriously overbearing god fearing Christian father. Which makes his home life pretty awful. His dad is the ringleader for opposing boys wearing “girls” clothes.
Both boys are so unsure of how the other feels. Both unsure of love and both poor with communication within a relationship. There was perhaps a touch too much dramatics with ALL the self doubt but also these are 16 year olds lol
Skylar also finds friends with Imani and Seth - and these two, especially Imani, are just awesome. She seriously is the smartest of the whole bunch lol and stole the show for me.
The ending to this was just beyond sweet and uplifting and heartwarming. I loved the big plan Jacob came up with. I love me them together so much.
Thank you to the author for providing an arc copy. Get this book when it comes out and enjoy!
I literally can’t make it through the last 60 pages of this book. When you have such unique and well thought out characters on the surface level, don’t squander them with a plot that is every bad, basic high school book ever written and don’t give them immature inner monologues that make them really dislikable. Really disappointed as this was one of my most anticipated books of the year and the cover is so beautiful, but the story, writing and characters were just so bad.
Oh. My. God! Cuteness overload! Truly one of the cutest books I’ve ever read! And now even more excited for when my preorder arrives.
Skylar and Jacob? I love them. They are adorable, funny, and awkward in the best possible way.
My heart aches for Skylar. The pain of his past makes him doubt the possibility of a future full of love and happiness. Anxiety + Fear = Self Sabotage? Then there’s Jacob. Outwardly confident, great friends and family, but looks can be deceiving. He has struggles of his own, a hidden fight to be loved and accepted for the person he is.
As with all great books, the supporting cast is exceptional! The quintessential outcasts. Imani, pansexual and Wiccan, and Seth, straight and a complete nerd. They compliment each other, and Skylar, even if he can’t see it or understand, fits in with these misfits perfectly and is what Skylar needs in his life. Jacob has Ian, straight, funny, and sarcastic, but supportive and has a sensitive side, even if he’ll never admit it. There is also Eric or ‘Ted’ funny and supportive but not featured as much.
And then we have the story itself, a battle of gender, sexuality, societal conformity, and religion. For me, the serious issues and undertones, are handled sensitively and with passion. When tackling religion and sexuality, it can easily come across as an attack on one or the other, but not here. Jordon Greene does a wonderful job at representing religion and sexuality fairly and honestly.
I’m not a teenager anymore, but I still remember my school days and the characters are a perfect reflection of school and teen life. It’s gorgeous. And I’m still smiling from all the feels.
Oh, I should mention that Skylar is nonverbal. The title makes sense now. Lol.
And how can I write a review without mentioning The Grays?! Oh, my heart! They are so damn beautiful. Kimberly and Bob are my favourites, other than Skylar and Jacob, of course. Lol
Thank you, Jordon Greene, for the arc ebook. It was a pure joy to read.
"Every Word You Never Said" is a gay YA contemporary romance following the dual POV of Skylar and Jacob. Skylar is a gay adopted nonverbal 16 year old who just started a new school. Jacob takes up the task to show Skylar around the school on his first day.
I loved Skylar and was quickly connected to him but it was harder with Jacob. I ended up liking Jacob but his chapters were definitely a bit harder to get into. Their chapters are easy to differentiate which is always a positive with dual POVs.
There was a lot of great representation in this book so that was a highlight of the story. The nonverbal main character was really interesting to read about.
I found the contast between sweet moments and harsh ones a bit too jarring for my liking. This book featured a lot more homophobia and other difficult situations than I first assumed. It is branded that way though so that was my bad.
I don't usually like pop culture references in books as it makes them dated and are usually just cringey and this book supported that.
Overall this was a solid read just not my favorite, thank you to the author for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Rep: nonverbal, gay MC, gay loveinterest, lesbian, gay and pan SCs
Skylar moves to a new town after being adopted at age 15 by a married couple. The thing is Skylar is not only gay, but also nonverbal and likes to wear skirts, which does not bode well in a town ruled by narrow minded, conservative Christians.
I really liked this story, Skylar finding friends who connect with him on a deeper level, first love and settling in a new environment and a new family. Him wearing a skirt to school and angering not only his schoolmates and teachers, but the school board and a lot of people in town was nothing he needed on top of that. This one incident had kind of a snowball effect, bringing a whole campaign for a new dress code into being.
Jacobs father is one of the school boards members, forcing his believes on anyone, using religion to spread his hate. Making life for Jacob who’s only recently come out a living hell. Falling for Sky making everything far more difficult.
This was a bit of a slice of life plot, with the “clothes are for everyone” and religion theme as the main focus. It’s a very slow burn romance, which I liked a lot, because these two were inexperienced and firstly even needed to find a way to communicate with each other. But it somehow made this book drag a little from time to time and for me it could have been shorter or more action filled.
I think their conflicts and thoughts were very fitting for their age, both of them not super confident but also wanting to rage against the machine at the same time. Absolutely not agreeing with your (homophobic) parents, but having no other choice than to live under their roof. Second guessing peoples intentions after living in a few dozen shady foster families and care homes all your life. Of course including a little bit of unnecessary teenage love drama. What I didn’t like that much was their use of langue in their conversations sometimes. It felt like an adult writing teenagers if you get what I mean. (Or do teenagers these days really call each other bitch every two sentences? I don’t know.)
I really liked the SCs in this as well, his supportive friends and adoptive parents. Imani standing by Skylar, supporting him and reassuring him, but also calling him on his shit. (For me she was a little bit too involved in his love life and asking him rather inappropriate questions after just knowing him a few days, but maybe it’s just me.) His supportive adoptive parents were great too, encouraging him to be who he is and dress and act like he wants to. For me it was very cringey though that they called themselves mom and dad and expected Skylar to call them that too? I wouldn’t expect a teenager I just adopted to call me that at all if it wasn’t coming from them in the first place.
I also liked that there was another pastor in this supporting Skylar and talking about what church really should be about. Not spreading hate and an agenda that fits your political career for example. (Not that I know a lot about religion, but I don’t think that it is intended to be used for that.)
All in all it was a cute YA novel raising important topics, with a sweet romance and supportive friends and family members.
*I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review! Read on for only potential MINOR spoilers!*
TW: Homophobia, Bullying, Sexism, Ableism
"Every Word You Never Said" is quite easily Jordon Greene's tour de force! Serving as his 3rd YA LGBTQ+ novel and set within the familiar region of Kannapolis, NC, I found myself absolutely enthralled by this story!
Skylar Grey is a nonverbal, queer main character who loves to wear skirts. Okay, all of that right there is just a big YES. To see such representation within this character is fantastic because while queer characters serve as the MCs in their own stories more and more, it is still rare to see a disabled queer person at the helm of their own story. I immediately fell in love with Skylar and his character quite simply because of his tenacious personality; that is, to unapologetically be himself and strike back against the conservative, religious, homophobic townspeople that seek to keep him down. I loved how though he befriends badass Imani and Seth, he never needs to rely on anyone else to save him. Skylar is a natural independent leader!
In addition to Skylar, we also have Jacob Walters: another character from the Noahverse who is getting his own story and dismantling gender stereotypes alongside Skylar! I found myself slowly warming up to Jacob at the beginning of the story as he felt somehow different from how I imagined him previously. Of course at that point, he was just a voice over Tyler's headset during a game of Overwatch :) Nevertheless, I ended up appreciating Jacob's character and the clapbacks he delivered to his sexist, homophobic father who was pushing for the obscene new dress code. I must say I was hoping for Jacob to experience a greater moment of liberation from his oppressive father, but I remain hopeful he and Skylar will come back to us again!
Other things I loved about this book! -Imani and Seth! Fantastic side characters who added greatly to the plot and complemented Skylar and Jacob's characters. Imani and Seth were not one-dimensional as some side characters unfortunately become, but instead they were so dynamic and memorable! -Representation of religion! I really enjoyed how religion was not entirely portrayed as an evil cult because not all religions are. Yes, Jacob's dad's church certainly was the evil cult in this story, but there was also Skylar's adoptive parents' church that embraced all cultures and sexual orientations. I am not really one of faith, but I think it was great for Jordon to write in a way that showed not all places of worship are malicious and anti-LGBTQ+. -Found family! Found family is one of the big themes of this story that really stood out to me. Family certainly does not have to mean blood-relations, and to see how Skylar especially found his sense of belonging with his friends and his adoptive parents warmed my heart so much. This is honestly such a great theme to see play out in stories! -Seeing old friends! I really loved seeing certain characters play a role or make an appearance in this story. I really hope this is a continuous thing! That is all I will say on that :)
Overall, a fantastic third novel from Jordon Greene! I cannot thank him enough for sending me an ARC of "Every Word You Never Said" and in general for the inclusive LGTBQ+ positive stories that he writes. Jordon, thank you and I'm eagerly awaiting the next one!
I really wanted to like this but unfortunately it was a struggle just to finish. The entire book would have really benefited from sensitivity readers. It was nice to see non-verbal rep but it was riddled with ableist rhetoric, and not just from the bullies. The characters where flat and vastly underdeveloped. The one person of color was almost exclusively described as "sassy" and the f-slur was extremely overused. It was a big plus to see a MC breaking gender norms by wearing skirts and dresses but it was turned into a conflict for the plot that kind of fizzled out and felt pointless. The whole book left me feeling like the author had great ideas, outlined them, and then never really filled it out. All the good parts of the story happen off screen and there is a lot of pointless meandering filler bits that we get instead. The romance was terrible. I honestly can't say more on that or I'll run out of room.
Over all I'm giving one star for an attempt but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
Unfortunately, this book just didn’t really work for me personally.
I don’t think i’ve read a book with a nonverbal mc before, so that was one of my main reasons for wanting to read this one along with that stunning cover!!
A lot of the language and phrases used throughout this book made me cringe so bad, but my main issue was the latter half of the book and the way that the MC Skylar handled everything. I’m aware that he has gone through a lot of past trauma which has deeply affected him, but he really said i choose self sabotage 🏃🏻.
Anyway, please do not let my review put you off reading this book! Every Word You Never Said has all kinds of great representation. Throughout the story, there were a lot of important topics discussed and i think these conversations were all handled very well. If you’re looking for a super sweet, queer romance with boys wearing skirts, then this could be a book for you!
“but maybe a little stupid courage is what i need more of.”
eARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
I'm a huge proponent of the idea that characters don't have to have clear goals in the story as long as the author has clear goals for them; that being said, it really felt like nobody in this book had ideas for goals for anybody - nor the characters, nor the novel itself. The story meanders constantly, relationships and characters either develop too quickly or don't develop at all. This book seems to have a lot of plot bunnies and threads set up that could be interesting if they were explored and it initially seems like they are going somewhere, but really, they end up abandoned very quickly, leaving you with a baffled "why am I even reading this? for what?" halfway through. The idea that Skylar is a foster child who doesn't feel like he can form lasting relationships/be loved and he expects abandonment is interesting, an engaging psychological aspect to explore, but he basically deals with it by chapter three, he makes friends immediately, and the long-lasting effects of having been abandoned and betrayed by various figures in his life don't really pop up after that in any of his relationships (excluding the romantic one). Glad that he got over it after a friendly girl talked to him twice, but. What's the point of introducing this aspect of his psyche if it gets resolved so quickly and goes nowhere? This also leads to a bigger issue of how static the characters in this romantic novel felt. Writing a slice-of-life/romance, you have to focus on some kind of internal stakes, show some interesting nuances in the characters and their mentality that can be explored; when you don't have external stakes, the push to create strong internal stakes is even bigger! What is interesting about Skylar? What is interesting about Jacob? What is interesting about them together? Some concepts in theory. Skylar's assumptions about himself and his relationships. Jacob's identity in his heavily Christian household with the father who refuses to acknowledge it and actively goes against what Jacob is. But you have to explore those things for them to actually be interesting and worth reading about. They aren't in this book. It's reading about the most shallow, surface-level presentation of these experiences, that doesn't really delve into their interesting psychological impact, sometimes to the point where the character hears something emotionally impactful and then the pov immediately switches seemingly to avoid telling something actually interesting? I'm not going to get into the only black character being a sassy/shipper supportive best friend of the white main character, I'm sure there are better people than me to talk about this subject, so I will merely say: yikes. The entire skirt thing is also... Ugh. I think the crux of my issue here is that both Skylar and Jacob have like two personality traits each (if even), and, in Skylar's case, that lands him in a very weird spot where - the skirt thing feels both not important enough and overtly important to him, if that makes sense? Now: I know that liking wearing a skirt is enough of a reason to wear it, and Skylar doesn't need to have big reasons to want to do it other than he likes how he looks in it, but his situation is not normal; he gets serious ramifications, both in terms of bullying, detention, and lack of supportive teachers at school, for wearing these skirts. And because he has so little personality, I really struggle understanding why does he keep wearing them? What is his reasoning? Why is this important and why should I care about the resolution of this issue in the particular case of this book? I guess the book correctly assumes that as an lgbt+ mlm romance that describes that the boy main character likes wearing skirts in its blurb, it will only attract readers who will be like "yeah!! abandon gender roles!! wear whatever you want to wear!!" and so it decides that it doesn't actually have to have reasons for the reader to care about this besides the reader's assumed political views. Well. I'm absolutely like "yeah!! abandon gender roles!! wear whatever you want to wear!!", but it doesn't mean I'm interested in the School Skirt Drama of this fictional town by default. I want to know why it matters for Skylar. Why is he going out of his way to suffer consequences of wearing skirts. He isn't really involved in politics and doesn't really stand up for his beliefs, so it's not that. At the same time, he doesn't really seem concerned about his looks or doesn't really seem to care about his fashion choices that much outside of the skirts, to the point where it makes his description of skirts he's wearing very out of place because he doesn't really care about anything else he has on? So it ends up feeling very much like this is just a normal teenage boy who wears whatever but then puts on skirts and suffers punishments for it for. No personal reason other than "I like wearing skirts", and it just doesn't feel like enough to get me involved in this situation, because I don't even understand what this "like" means for him? It would be okay as a side thread, but this is the closest this book has to the main plot, so the biggest stake in this book is literally "I like wearing skirts. No they don't mean anything to me personally, no I don't really care about political implications of this, no I can't tell why exactly. Now read this entire novel where the main conflict is that I wear skirts. Also I don't have personality". Fun.
[ I received an advance reader copy for an honest review] Every Word You Never Said by Jordon Greene was a wonderful YA Queer Contemporary romance. It's a well-rounded story that's both extremely fluffy and heart heavy. Fluffy because the romance between the two main characters is precious, but the situations and hate they deal with are disheartening.
Skylar has so much on his plate for a 16-year-old. He's adopted, non verbal and his clothing choices are outside the gender norm. New parents, new school, new friends and a new crush are a lot for anyone to handle. It's made even harder for him by living in a town that is overrun with bigoted, small-minded, convservative people. Those who want to ban him from wearing skirts and make up and being proud of who he is. With the help of his new family, friends, and crush Jacob they stand up to those closed-minded people but will his own fears of being inadequate destroy the blossoming relationship Jacob. "He's like me. He's broken, hurting. This, all of this, is not what I expected, it's not the idea of him I had in my head. It makes him more real to me. And honestly, it makes him beautiful."
Ahhh I absolutely loved the characters in this. Skylar is an unforgettable main character who instantly steals your heart. With his love of reading (he has great book taste) and dinosaurs (who doesn't love dinos?) . He comes across to everyone as confident and brave for wearing his skirts and painting his nails, but the boy is swimming in insecurities because of his upbringing, and it breaks your heart. He believes it's too good to be true that he's surrounded by supportive adoptive parents and friends. The way he handles the 'conflict' with Jacob is realistic for his situation and while he's definitely stubborn, the whole situation seemed right for their ages without being annoyingly immature. "And my mind is going full speed again. It's Skylar. It needs to stop, but it's all Skylar. His little short self, big hazel eyes that I think are more green than brown, and little hands. He's just cute. Like, too cute."
Jacob was a bit harder for me to connect with, but I felt for his struggles with walking the line between appeasing his strict horrible conservative sexist homophobic father 🤬 and being who he wanted to be. I loved that before he even got to know Skylar he had his back against the bullies of the school. He was a few years older than Skylar, so I felt like he should have maybe handled their 'conflict' better, but in the end he never gave up on him. He continued to support him, learns sign language, and his grand gesture will put a smile on your face. "Hey , look at me . Sky," I beg him, and raise our entwined fingers for him to see." I'm not letting go."
I have to mention the fantastic supporting characters. Skylar's friends, Imani and Seth, both made me chuckle more than a few times. Skylar's adopted parents are how all parents should be, but unfortunately aren't. They supported Skylar in who he was and had rules and consequences that weren't over bearing. They showed him he was loved and cared for in their actions and words. Every Word You Never Said is a Queer YA romance between two boys navigating high school, their feelings and first relationship while dealing with negativity from small-minded people. Filled with loving parents, supportive friends, bookshop hangouts, corn maze kisses and figuring out life one step at a time.
P.S. - If you have read Jordon Greene's previous book A Mark on My Soul be ready for a cameo that will straight up PUNCH you in the heart 😭
Rep: Gay MCs, pan side character, queer side characters CW: Bullying, homophobic slurs, sexist and gender normality views
This book touched on so many important issues - clothing and gender, ableism and disability, sexuality, religion, homophobia, friendship, first love and not feeling good enough.
Jacob and Skylar were loveable characters, both dealing with feeling like outcasts for different reasons. Watching their relationship slowly develop with lots of sweet and awkward moments was a joy. Towards the end I was a little frustrated with their separation but, it did make sense because of the characters' individual insecurities. Their happy ending was super cheesy, fun and satisfying.
I adored Sky's adopted parents! An example of parenting at it's finest! The massive focus on friendship was also really uplifting. The way the main characters and side characters supported each other was so heartwarming.
I've seen some bad reviews of this talking about there being unchecked homophobia, whilst some parts were not pleasant to read, I found the portrayal pretty accurate. Sadly, there is still so many people who have the views highlighted in this book. The way it's portrayed here shows the damage that can be done and why certain views are dangerous to society and people's wellbeing.
Despite such serious topics being central to this novel, it was largely a joyful, sweet and hopeful read.
edit 12/10/22: ok no i'm talking about it again with a friend and i'm changing the rating to a 1 because i'm still in a reading slump caused by it and it sucks
not going to bother to make a full, proper review because i'm just really pissed at this book, but i'm really disappointed. I think I might even be generous with a 2-star rating to be honest. Absolutely nothing in these 400+ pages mattered, because so many things were thrown in for... some reason and that means that nothing ended up being meaningful in any way! I enjoyed the first half or so of the book because it seemed like it was just being set up a bit slowly, but nope, it turned out it was just going nowhere. I didn't really like the characters who mostly felt like empty shells, and was mostly annoyed by the two main/POV ones, but that might be because I am now a bitter old man. I ended up losing all interest in the book around the 250-page mark, which meant over 150 pages of dragging my feet to finish this damn book and it did not get any better. I feel like it was just a huge waste of time in the end
I put this on hold ages ago because of my eye problems, but I feel like I just won't ever get back to it especially after reading other reviews. The writing felt kind of juvenile, like this is definitely a book aimed for young teens in terms of writing. There was a ton of pop culture references too which felt a bit too much and I was uncomfortable with how much the bully's used slurs.
I was really excited for this, I loved the cover and the summary sounded good but unfortunately it didn't live up to my expectations.
I dnfed this book after reading page 20 where one of the characters says “ I would be the L but some of the guys and theys are just too yummy” Basically saying being a lesbian is a choice. And i’m assuming when the character said “they” she meant non-binary people which lesbians can like non-binary people and be a lesbian. As a lesbian I felt super uncomfortable and don’t think people who are not lesbians should joke like that. I am really disappointed by the author.
I am so thankful that Jordon was able to give me an eARC of this book! I loved this book. I knew I would love it, but i did not think it would be to this scale. Jordon crafts two more characters that fit into his world perfectly.
The story focuses on a nonverbal boy who just wants love and family and another boy who just wants to be himself without the scrutiny from his family. The romance is beautiful. The small nuances of Skylar showing himself for and being confident for being different and wearing a skirt is an inspiring story for those who just want to believe in themselves. Not only does Jordon tell the story of these two characters, but also continues the story of his other characters in the background from his other books. As someone who also loved his other books, the addition of bringing the whole Noahverse together is clever and wonderful. My reading experience was a whirlwind of blushing embarrassment, happy tears and heart swelling love and pride for the characters and the story.
This story is for those that like a slow burn BL romance that is set in a world of diverse characters and a beautiful story of self discovery, love and fighting for what you believe in. Trust me when I say that this book will stick with you and leave your heart warm like it did for me (and still is currently!).
I liked it, but I would've done a lot of things differently. A lot of characters I would've written differently. Like, Skylar was great but we barely know anything about him. He was adopted but there's little to no backstory. Jacob says some really dumb shit at the beginning and it's never addressed. He keeps on saying dumb shit and no one ever calls him out. Imani should be this super cool side character, but she's extremely one-dimensional. She's Wiccan and the only Black person we get to know in her school - which is located in this small, conservative town - and we never see her getting any shit from people, which, let's be real, she probably would. Seth was okay but we know absolutely nothing about him. Same thing goes for Jacob's friends.
Lots of things were rushed as well. I would've liked to see Skylar's process in accepting his new adoptive parents as actual parents. Instead, it just happened out of the blue. He's calling them by their names in one chapter, and next thing we know, they're already "mom" and "dad" to him. And we know that they adopted Skylar because their son died and would've been about Sky's age if he hadn't, but this is information we're given in passing and it's never explored, or even mentioned again. It lacked depth.
Even the romance was rushed, which is strange, given that the main plot of the book - this ongoing thing about school dress-code policy - gets thrown into the background to make space for the growing relationship between Jacob and Skylar. Which, again, just happened. At least I can understand why they were drawn to each other, and the two dates they went on were very cute, my favorite parts of the book.
I just can't understand how this book turned out so mediocre. The potential was definitely there, but how was this 400 pages long and still lacking? In depth, in emotion. How wasn't it sadder? Really, how wasn't it better?