Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Things We Never Said

The Things We Never Said is the debut novel from Susan Elliot Wright. It tells the story of a young girl called Maggie who wakes to find herself in a mental health hospital during the 1960s with no recollection of why she is there. In the present day, a teacher called Jonathan is dealing with the death of his father and being suspended from his job, when a detective turns up to ask questions about some crimes committed long ago, which may be linked to his father...

The book starts promising with the terrifying descriptions of Maggie's time in hospital where the girls are treated horrifically by the nurses and have to endure electric shock treatment. That comes to an abrupt end when Maggie suddenly remembers and we go back further in time to when she moves away on her own when her parents die. Slowly we learn what drove her to severe depression.

Jonathan's story also starts promising and I really feel for him when he loses his temper as a result of constant bad behaviour from his class and he is suspended. But from then on, only bad things happen and it gets to a point when I was almost laughing as yet another tragic incident happened to him. I think two or three of the plot lines would have been enough for readers to feel sympathy towards him.

The detective character, who notices a link in Jonathan's DNA when he is arrested to some closed cases, is very annoying and seems to feel no sympathy towards any of the characters including visiting Jonathan's mum to question her when she has just lost her husband. 

Despite losing its way around half-way through and having a predictable ending, I think this would be a suitable choice for book groups as there is plenty to talk about and lots of characters to dissect. I would have rather read more about Maggie's time in hospital, how she came to be released and find her own way in life. I would be interested to hear what other's think...

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