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The Untelling

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  981 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews
Aria Jackson lived through the car crash that killed her father and baby sister when she was nine. At 25 she begins to unearth secrets about family, friends, her past, and her altered reality in this journey through truth and forgiveness.
Paperback, 325 pages
Published April 12th 2006 by Grand Central Publishing (first published April 18th 2005)
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Feb 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Okay. So I've had some time to let the effects of having read this book wear off a bit. I feel that I'm ready to talk about it without revealing my soul here. Excuse me if I'm long-winded. This book connected some life-dots for me, so y'all bear with me.

I've never read a novel that caused me to do so much self-reflection that I actually had a a real life the kind you could get from therapy or something. Actually, I might feel less weird about this whole t
Book Concierge
Ariadne is nine years old when the family is in an automobile accident on the way to her dance recital. Her father and baby sister, Genevieve, die. Aria, her older sister, Hermione, and their mother survive. But all three carry serious emotional scars from the event. Now it is sixteen years later and they are living independent lives. Hermione is married and the mother of a toddler, living in the suburbs and almost never returns Aria’s phone calls. Their mother is a bitter woman, who uses her el ...more
May 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Heard about Tayari Jones from a few online friends, and picked up this book because I wanted to read some contemporary fiction by a black woman writer who is about my age (30s). I read up to page 36 or so and then put it down; the beginning was compelling, but I stopped at a point in which it was unclear what was going to happen next. I sat myself down with it about a week later and read the remaining 300 pages over the next 24 hours. Plot-wise, things move slowly and there are a lot of flashbac ...more
Jan 21, 2015 rated it liked it
I liked it, but not as much as Leaving Atlanta (which was very good) or Silver Sparrow (which I LOVED). The story wasn't what I initially thought it would be--for some reason by the description on the inside front jacket I thought it would be more of a trauma narrative. There is trauma in the novel, but the story moves slower so there's less emotional impact (at least, until the end) than most stories of past trauma. Instead, this book was more of a character study of a young woman. Jones took h ...more
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: authors-of-color
A raw, honest look at the complexities of relationships and how hiding our hurts from friends and loved ones only causes more hurt and misunderstandings. Masterful use of imagery. I read it in one sitting!
Jul 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
Poetic narrative of a young woman facing the losses of her past along with those of her future. A sensitive portrayal of a contemporary woman facing issues of love and family making in the context of race, class, and urban life.
Dec 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
i really got caught up in this story. the hints towards the secret that needs to be told (or untold)set you up for the sesmic boom at the end. loved it.
This is honestly one of the best books I've ever read about a person who doesn't think she deserves to be happy.
Mar 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
I liked The Untelling by Tayari Jones. Ariadne lost her father and baby sister in a car accident when she was 10. Her mother is unstable and cold toward Ariadne and her older sister afterward. Her sister, who has been a refuge for Ariadne, escapes the household by marrying her father's friend. All Ariadne wants is a normal family, and she thinks that's what she'll be getting when she tells her boyfriend that she is expecting his baby and he offers to marry her. This is a beautifully written book ...more
Jan 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Untelling is a story of lies--lies of omission and lies meant to mislead, lies told to others and told to ourselves. The truth is a hard nut to crack sometimes, but there are always consequences. Damaged by a childhood tragedy that overshadows the rest of her life, protagonist Aria backs herself into corners that have predictable results for the plot. That's not to say the book was boring or not compelling, but it's fairly obvious the way events will play out. Getting there is worth it, thou ...more
Jamilla Rice
Jun 18, 2012 rated it liked it
I really wanted to give it 2.5 stars, but the bloody rating system rounds off. It's like when you're an 8 1/2 and all of the shoes you like only come in whole sizes. Anyway, I didn't like this one as much as Leaving Atlanta or Silver Sparrow. The depth of Atlanta's point of view and the richness of Sparrow's characters, story, and imagery were just not present. There are glimpses of the much more lyrical and visual Jones toward the end of the book, which I respect much more than the rest of the ...more
Feb 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adultfiction
Aria's life has been full of tragedy for as long as she can remember. As a child, she survived a car accident that claimed the lives of her father and her baby sister. As her father was trying to talk to her, she plugged her ears and pretended she couldn't hear him as he passed away...

A resident of Atlanta, Aria has dedicated her life to teach literacy to girls who may not otherwise gain an education. She lives in a rough part of town with her best friend Rochelle, which troubles her boyfriend D
Jonathan Appleton
Mar 23, 2014 rated it liked it
I read this on a recommendation from Author John Green from his Vlog Brothers entry “18 Great Books You Probably Haven't Read”.

I listened to this rather than read it since my library only had it in audio form. This may have added to part of my detachment from it. There is a lot of introspection here and a lot of what emotional battlefields we all have and create in our lives. Some of our fiercest opposition comes from inside.

This book does a phenomenal job of getting into the emotional states of
Apr 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful story of loss, coping, understanding ones own actions or failure to act. A telling to help heal one's past...
Tayari is a truly talented storyteller. Her characters are so real and their challenges and life experiences are familiar and believable. I didn't want to stop reading and wanted more when it ended.
I highly recommend this novel.
Andrea MacPherson
Aug 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
This novel, for me, epitomizes the 'sophomore slump'.

Unlike her other novels (Leaving Atlanta is still with me) The Untelling was missing muscular prose and cadence, a satisfying, complex plot. The story, despite an interesting premise (how a family goes on after a tragic accident, claiming the father and youngest daughter) never really gelled. There were too many threads that felt haphazard.
Jul 10, 2013 rated it really liked it

Tayari Jones once again takes her reader to Atlanta for an insider's view of an African American family who've suffered loss through an automobile accident. Aria and her sister navigate their own grief and their mother's destructive grieving. The Untelllng is a nuanced, complex depiction of the econmic stratification of Black Atlanta and is a good tale nicely told.
Apr 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Seriously, don't judge this book by its cover (art). It doesn't look like much, but the prose is lush and the subject matter is fascinating, particularly for anyone dealing with reproductive endocrinology on a personal or professional level. I first heard excerpts from this book on a Humanities on Demand podcast (
Suzanne Bullard
Sep 07, 2012 rated it really liked it

The author is a wonderful storyteller. I loved the characters. They were richly developed and realistic. The story is bittersweet and I could not tear myself away. I will plan on reading her other books soon. I stumbled across this book for a dollar at a used book store. What a treasure.
Apr 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015-challenge
I really, really wanted to like this book. I recently saw the author speak and I really liked her. The story had so much potential but it just fell painfully short. The over use of metaphors almost killed me like a snake slowly squeezes the life out of a mouse. See what I did there?
it was a little slow for me and not very inviting but i listened to it fully.
Dec 08, 2012 rated it liked it
I wasn't prepared for how deeply parts of this book touched me.
Sep 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: african-american
This was another wonderful story by Tayari Jones. I just love her writing style, I always have a hard time putting her books down. I can't wait for her next book.
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed! It was a little slow at times but recommended by John Green. Good read
Nov 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
A very interesting book. I enjoyed it - hope to read more from this author.
Jun 03, 2017 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the unfolding of how life events shape future life choices and the generational impacts especially wrt secrets. But, mostly I enjoyed the exploration of why one would not live in the best neighborhood possible and the implications and ramifications of that choice.

The story was more interesting to me as a fictional biography, exploring a life rather than in its exploration of the abstract idea of secrets and their impact on relationships.
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars? I liked it enough to plow through it in a couple of days, curious how everything would turn out. Overall I liked how the characters were fleshed out, even if it did feel like it took awhile to address some of their history. Solid read.
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The past haunts us all

Wonderful storytelling in this sad tale of how the past can influence your present and future. My heart breaks for the three women in this story.
Dec 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wow. I really enjoyed this book, but it was so heavy. Heavy with grief, love, secrets, mother/daughter issues and more. I do like Tayari Jones's work - this is my favorite book by her so far.
Taryn Pierson
Feb 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
I found this book via YA author John Green, who with his brother posts short videos covering a variety of subjects on YouTube. Recently he posted a video in which he lists great books that most people haven't heard of. This is just the kind of golden opportunity I'm always on the lookout for, so I quickly made a note of the titles I wanted to check out. Tayari Jones's The Untelling is the first one I was able to get my hands on.

Green points out that Jones is better known for another novel, Leavi
Aug 07, 2012 rated it liked it
The Untelling, by Tayari Jones is a lovely, yet bittersweet book about Ariadne “Aria” Jackson. Hers is the story of a woman caught on the threshold of decay and rebirth, much like the beloved West End Atlanta neighborhood where she and her best friend, Rochelle, live. That neighborhood, and to a lesser extent inner city Atlanta in general, almost becomes a character itself, and is certainly a reflection of Aria as they both try to come to terms with their pasts and rebuild.

When Aria was 9, her f
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Tayari Jones is an African American author and winner of the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction. Born in 1970, she was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia and educated at Spelman College, the University of Iowa and Arizona State University.

She started writing seriously at Spelman College, where she studied with Pearl Cleage, who published her first story, "Eugenics", in Catalyst magazin
More about Tayari Jones...

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“I guess this is how love is when it comes undone. No matter how tight you knit the stitches, a sharp tug on a loose thread will transform your warm sweater into a mangled heap of yarn that you can't reuse or repair.” 4 likes
“Dwelling on pain, spending too much time immersed in it, tasting its flavors, fingering its textures--this makes it only more potent.” 3 likes
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