About this book: (from the publisher) For as long as she can remember, Sarah’s family life has revolved around her twin sister, Annie—the pretty one, the social one, the girl who can do anything. The person everyone seems to wish Sarah—with her crippling shyness—could simply become.
When Annie suddenly chops off her hair, quits beauty pageants, and gains weight, the focus changes—Annie is still the star of the family, but for all the wrong reasons. Sarah knows something has happened, but she too is caught in her own spiral after her boyfriend breaks up with her and starts hanging out with one of Annie’s old friends.
Annie is intent on keeping her painful secret safe. But when she and Sarah start spending time together again for the first time in years, walls start to break on both sides … and words that had been left unsaid could change everything.
About the author: (from her website) Carol Lynch Williams, who grew up in Florida and now lives in Utah, is an award-winning novelist with seven children of her own, including six daughters. She has an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College, and won the prestigious PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship. The Chosen One was named one of the ALA’s Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers and Best Books for Young Adult Readers; it won the Whitney and the Association of Mormon Letters awards for the best young adult novel of the year; and was featured on numerous lists of recommended YA fiction. Carol’s other novels include Glimpse, Miles From Ordinary, The Haven, Waiting, Signed, Skye Harper, and the Just in Time series.
If this book were a movie, I would rate it: PG-13 for mature themes
Why I read this book: to better understand my own time, myself, and others
Content includes: bullying, social anxiety, (and one other, which to reveal would be to spoil)
Will especially appeal to: teenage girls who grapple with issues of identity and belonging.
First Impressions: The cover? I like the image of these two girls, which conveys both hiddenness and resolution. The story? Hooked me from page one.
This story matters to me…for its exploration of the bond between sisters, as well as its themes of unconditional love and belonging.
[Tweet “A compelling exploration of the bond between sisters: Never Said @BookLookBlogger”]
My take: The sister relationship is what drew me to this story. I don’t have a sister, and to be honest, never really wanted one, being perfectly content with my two brothers as siblings. But I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of sisters, not sure why. Maybe because there seems, to me, so much potential for drama there. I could be wrong, but that’s my perception.
In this case, I was happy to land as a fly on the wall to observe the gradually transformed relationship between Annie and Sarah. Their extreme differences, and how they overcame personal weaknesses, provided a compelling foundation for the rest of the story to unfold.
The ending, which includes the reveal as to why Annie has put on so much weight, won’t come as a great surprise, although some of the details might not be guessed much earlier. I felt it was a tasteful handling of a distasteful subject, although some readers may find the resolution a bit too pat. From an adult’s perspective–perhaps from a teen’s as well–it is hard to understand the parents’ self-absorption, which might strain credibility for some of their choices, both good and bad.
Published by Christian publisher Zondervan (Blink is their YA imprint), this book has far more of a mainstream feel than an inspirational one. It’s perfectly clean, and the themes are conveyed appropriately for the intended audience. But readers (and their parents) should not expect a strong faith message. “Christ” is mentioned once–the single overt reference to Christianity.
That said, this writer’s style completely wowed me. Her pithy lyricism more than once stole my breath. Her alternating narratives–Annie’s poetic bursts and Sarah’s prosy narrative–managed to be spare yet fluid at the same time. This combination kept me compulsively turning pages. One more…just one more…
All in all, I found Never Said an engaging read from first page to last and look forward to more from this author.
Thanks to BookLook Bloggers and Blink for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
See what other BookLook reviewers are saying here.