THE THINGS WE CANNOT SAY
REVIEWED BY LINDA WICKLUND
often say I've read so many books about the Second
World War and the atrocities committed by the Nazi
occupations that I've read enough on the subject.
But then a friend suggested this book and I'm
really glad she did. Although of course it
has many sad parts it also tells the story of two
generations of women and their unimaginable
struggles and heartbreak. Especially, for me, the
courage and strength that millions of people
demonstrated during this time in history.
The prologue of the
book is set in Russia in 1942, where a priest is
presiding over the wedding of Alina and Tomasz.
It's an extremely cold day for September but Alina
says "Our love had been my reason to live and to
fight for many years." In spite of the deplorable
conditions of the refuge camp, Alina "refused to
let it shake my confidence in the man I loved."
The second story
begins with Alice (Alina's Granddaughter) trying
to get her son Eddie off the floor of the grocery
where a major meltdown is happening. Eddie
is autistic and is screaming and emptying the
grocery shelves because they have changed the
label on his favorite yogurt. Alice has been
rushing everywhere this morning doing her best to
get to the hospital to see her beloved Grandmother
who has suffered a stroke. The dilemma that Alice
deals with is that in the seven years since Eddie
was born her husband, Wade, has been unable to
adapt to the reality of Eddie's disability.
She is basically doing it alone.
The book goes back
and forth between the brutality and injustice her
Grandparents endured to modern day depicting what
Alice is confronted with daily, especially when
her Grandmother has an urgent request. Alina
or Babcia (the Polish word for Grandmother) is
unable to speak because of the stroke she
suffered. But, through an App on their Ipad
she types "Find Tomasz, Need help, Emergency."
Alice is stunned because her Grandfather died the
year before. Doesn't Alina remember?
To honor her Babcia's
request, in spite of significant obstacles in
Alice's home life, she travels to Poland to try
and unlock the mystery of what her Grandmother has
asked of her. The rest of the story I'll
leave for you to discover. Both women's stories
are blended together beautifully and in a
I'll close with a
quote from the author, "Like many of their
generation, they had little time to reflect or
grieve even once the war ended. Their focus
was on the future and the physical, emotional and
psychological wounds of war were soon trapped
beneath the surface of the new life they were