What I Couldn’t Tell You by Faye Bird


Genre: Young adult, mystery, contemporary
Year Of Publication: 1st May 2016
Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd
Pages: 406 ( Paperback )
My rating: 2.5/5

“That’s the thing about not being a talker; when you don’t talk that much you listen more. You see the gaps in the conversation.You can read them like the words in a book. I’m really good at doing that because I’m listening all the time. And when you listen, you hear everything. You hear things in the silences, in the sighs, in the blank spaces of the conversation too.”

This is the first book I’ve read about “Selective Mutism” and having no prior knowledge about what it was I decide to search online.
This is what the internet has to say about Selective Mutism:
Selective mutism(SM) is a severe anxiety disorder where a person (who is normally capable of speech) is unable to speak in certain social situations, such as with classmates at school or to relatives they don’t see very often. It usually starts during childhood and, left untreated, can persist into adulthood.It usually co-exists with shyness or social anxiety.

The main character in the book (Tessie) suffers from SM. Being unable to freely talk to people makes her an “ideal listener”.Everyone opens up to her instantly as they feel she is willing to listen to what they have to say and won’t judge them
(*if she can’t talk to you, doesn’t mean she won’t silently judge you -_- ) .

Her SM comes in handy when her sister (Laura) is assaulted and goes in a coma. No one has any clue about what has happened to her – although, all fingers point at her boyfriend (Joe) who was with her at the time when it happened and has been missing since.

Tessie; who’s dealing with her SM, getting bullied at school because of it, and trying not to freak out when her family is falling apart – tries to figure out what happened to her sister.

I really liked how the author raised awareness about SM throughout the book. The narration was well done and I really liked how she was able to convey the myriad of emotions that take place throughout the book expertly but, for me these were the only redeeming qualities of the book.

There were a couple of things that bothered me while I read it.

no.1 : this book comes under the mystery/thriller genre. While the author tried to pull that off , it didn’t quite work for me. I was able to figure out what had happened in the first hundred pages and after that the book seemed to drag on with no real purpose in sight.
I would’ve liked this book better if it was a short story instead of a novel – that way the suspense would’ve been able to build up much more effectively and I wouldn’t have felt like abandoning it  in the middle.
(*I didn’t though. I read it till the very end)

no.2 : throughout the book the protagonist (Tessie) remains passive. For me that was very annoying.
While I liked how the author portrayed her struggles with SM there was no sugar-coating the fact that she had no brains; like literally none.
And don’t even get me started on the fact that she had no self-preservation instincts whatsoever.
I’ll give you an example:
while her sister lies in a coma,her mother is falling to pieces, the bullying has picked up a notch at school and her best friend confesses that he has feelings for her – she’s busy flirting with the new guy at school who has this “cutesy” (*cough* weird *cough*) interest (*cough* obsession *cough*) in her.
(*I find it hard to believe that she didn’t find that suspicious).
The fact that he has major “anger issues” doesn’t even faze her. There is a scene in the book where the new guy she has a thing for (*whom I’ll be referring to as”the dude”) beats her best friend (*yeah. the same one who has feelings for her) to a pulp because he talked to her and he didn’t like that (*control freak much).
Anyways,when she goes to see if her best friend is doing okay he tells her that he got beat up because the dude “loves her and wants her all for himself” (*stalker alert). He asks her if she will give her statement to the police about what happened but, she’s all caught up about how the dude “loves her”.
Like seriously.
Are you kidding me.
Your best friend.Your only friend, who’s been by your side this entire time gets beat up and put on bed rest and all you can think about is how this guy who just showed up moments ago “loves you”. Like what even?!
Her warped logic was so annoying that it kept on bothering me throughout the book.

In my opinion the plot could’ve been executed a lot better.Apart from the two reasons listed above I still really  liked the overall concept of the book.The author did an excellent job describing how SM takes a toll on people who have it, and on the relationships they have with other people.How it’s a constant struggle and takes a lot of work and effort to be able to cope with it.

Even though I gave this book a low rating I’ll still be reading future works  by Faye bird because I really liked her writing style.I hope I like her other books more than I liked this one.

Everyone has varying tastes when it comes to books. If I didn’t enjoy a particular book doesn’t mean you won’t as well. You can only decide that after you’ve read it.

If you have read this book let me know what your thoughts were in the comments down below. 🙂

*I was sent this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

If you live in Pakistan you can order this book from http://www.libertybooks.com

Author: zoeymuses

BIBLIOPHILE / #BOOKSTAGRAMMER / BOOK REVIEWER / BOOKTUBER blog: zoeymusesaboutbooks.wordpress.com instagram: @zoeymuses.aboutbooks twitter: @zoeymusesabtbks booktube : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw1s3rYhgJ59qmP3Z8PipXg

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