Words We Don't Say
Joel Higgins has 901 unsent text messages saved on his phone.Ever since the thing that happened, there are certain people he hasn't been able to talk to in person. Sure, he shows up at school, does his mandatory volunteer hours at the soup kitchen, and spends pretty much every moment thinking about Eli, the most amazing girl in the world. But that doesn't mean he's keeping it together, or even that he has any friends.So instead of hanging out with people in real life, he drafts text messages. But he never presses send.As dismal as sophomore year was for Joel, he doesn't see how junior year will be any better. For starters, Eli doesn't know how he feels about her, his best friend Andy's gone, and he basically bombed the SATs. But as Joel spends more time at the soup kitchen with Eli and Benj, the new kid whose mouth seems to be unconnected to his brain, he forms bonds with the people they serve there-including a veteran they call Rooster-and begins to understand that the world is bigger than his own pain.

Words We Don't Say Details

TitleWords We Don't Say
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 2nd, 2018
PublisherDisney-Hyperion
ISBN-139781368016339
Rating
GenreYoung Adult, Contemporary, Fiction

Words We Don't Say Review

  • Tziggy
    January 1, 1970
    I had this tabbed as 3 stars half way through. But then so much came together pulling social awareness of so many things into the story. Ending in something more than just a basic YA novel.
  • Dianne
    January 1, 1970
    Joel Higgins undergoes a coming of age and social awakening while doing mandatory volunteer hours at a soup kitchen. Between pining for the girl he loves, communicating his thoughts through unsent text messages and building connections with the people served at the soup kitchen, Joel’s world shrinks into perspective in comparison with the world around him.Dramatic, comedic, heart aching and sincere, WORDS WE DON’T SAY by K.J. Reilly is a chaotic journey through a teen boy’s mind as he traverses Joel Higgins undergoes a coming of age and social awakening while doing mandatory volunteer hours at a soup kitchen. Between pining for the girl he loves, communicating his thoughts through unsent text messages and building connections with the people served at the soup kitchen, Joel’s world shrinks into perspective in comparison with the world around him.Dramatic, comedic, heart aching and sincere, WORDS WE DON’T SAY by K.J. Reilly is a chaotic journey through a teen boy’s mind as he traverses the minefields of growing up in the maze called life. All isn’t so bad once you begin to figure it out and accept that the differences and even the rules all around can be the best parts.This is a treasure to read, share and enjoy!I received a complimentary ARC edition from Disney-Hyperion!Publisher: Disney Hyperion (October 2, 2018)Publication Date: October 2, 2018Genre: YA Coming of AgePrint Length: 288 pagesAvailable from: Amazon | Barnes & NobleFor Reviews, Giveaways, Fabulous Book News, follow: http://tometender.blogspot.com
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  • Judy Beetem
    January 1, 1970
    Words We Don't Say is my favorite book of all those I read and reviewed this summer. I wish I could give it more that 5 stars. K. J. Reilly does a fantastic job of capturing the language and technology of modern high school students. Joel is an angry seventeen-year-old. His best friend Andy is no longer in the picture - we find out why as the story progresses. Joel is working at the local soup kitchen accompanied by Eli , a girl he's loved since second grade, and Benj, an odd boy who supposedly Words We Don't Say is my favorite book of all those I read and reviewed this summer. I wish I could give it more that 5 stars. K. J. Reilly does a fantastic job of capturing the language and technology of modern high school students. Joel is an angry seventeen-year-old. His best friend Andy is no longer in the picture - we find out why as the story progresses. Joel is working at the local soup kitchen accompanied by Eli , a girl he's loved since second grade, and Benj, an odd boy who supposedly killed his parents and now lives with his aunt. Joel modified his counselor's suggestion that he journal, to writing text messages that he saves as drafts and never sends.. The title refer to the texts. He texts the Principal of the High School with hilarious suggestions for improving the school ( great ideas really). He texts Eli love notes and confessions, and he texts Andy notes on his life and whatever is on his mind. As Joel and his friends spend more time at the soup kitchen, they get to know the regulars and learn about veterans, PTSD and many of the injustices of the world. Joel refers to his parents by their first names - Jackson and Jesus, Mary (you'll have to read the book for the explanation). He also has a 5-year-old brother. His interactions with them are real and made we want to be a part of their family. Joel is a really good guy with problems with his anger. He's able to work through them with the help of his friends and his family in ways that are funny and heart-breaking while staying true to character.. I really, really enjoyed reading this book. It's hard to convey how special and entertaining it is without giving away key points. I plan to buy several copies for my library as soon as comes available in October, as well as some for gifts. I hope you enjoy it as much as it did. I'm positive middle and high school students will love it.
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  • B220
    January 1, 1970
    I think I might secretly be Joel Higgins! Joel writes, but doesn't send, text messages to people (alive and dead) because he just can never come right out and say the things he's thinking. He texts his beautiful friend Eli, his principal, and his recently deceased best friend Andy. Joel is just trying to make it through high school after his best friend has died. Those words, though left unsaid, may be what saves Joel.Joel volunteers at a soup kitchen with Eli where Joel meets Rooster, a PTSD su I think I might secretly be Joel Higgins! Joel writes, but doesn't send, text messages to people (alive and dead) because he just can never come right out and say the things he's thinking. He texts his beautiful friend Eli, his principal, and his recently deceased best friend Andy. Joel is just trying to make it through high school after his best friend has died. Those words, though left unsaid, may be what saves Joel.Joel volunteers at a soup kitchen with Eli where Joel meets Rooster, a PTSD suffering veteran who does not speak, but it seems to be at the kitchen where their relationship blossoms-relationship with both Eli and Rooster, (or becomes something more than nothing). Rooster ends up giving Joel a gun and that sets this story off in a crazy direction.I really related to Joel, and I think a lot of kids will too. How often do we think things, want to say things, want to type things, and then not do it?This book starts very differently than it ends. I like that about it. There are a few tear-jerking moments near the end as well that brings everything nicely to a close!
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  • Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)
    January 1, 1970
    This book begins in the middle of a shift at a soup kitchen. We are introduced to Joel and his many, MANY rambling thoughts and we are never taken out of his head space. Ever since "the thing that happened", he's been unable to talk to certain people. Instead, he drafts text messages to them and never sends them. (I actually tried and can't do this on my phone!)I'll be honest, I am not the reader for this book. I like the unique premise and the unique writing style but at the end of the day, it This book begins in the middle of a shift at a soup kitchen. We are introduced to Joel and his many, MANY rambling thoughts and we are never taken out of his head space. Ever since "the thing that happened", he's been unable to talk to certain people. Instead, he drafts text messages to them and never sends them. (I actually tried and can't do this on my phone!)I'll be honest, I am not the reader for this book. I like the unique premise and the unique writing style but at the end of the day, it inhibited me from fully appreciating what this book was trying to do. The author hits on a variety of deep topics - veterans, PTSD, religion, discrimination, etc. However, it all became too much throughout the read. I understand that the writing is coming from Joel's head and with that, how the inner workings of a teenage boy trying to deal with tough subject would react. I just didn't care for it. Even in the "funnier" scenes where there's supposed to be some levity, it just didn't work. I did like the friendships between the characters. Benji, Eli, Joel - Joel's relationship with his parents and younger brother. All of these were fantastic. We've all written a text and never sent it. We all have things we want to say to certain people but never say them. We all have had that friend we didn't particularly care for at the beginning but somehow became a close or best friend. And we have all not agreed with a friend's belief but there's still that bond and love between us regardless of our opposing views.The first 45 pages seemed to go nowhere and then we finally get introduced to something that makes it more interesting. However, it did drag throughout to get the point at the end and the thing that happened and what is actually going on... kind of. Weirdly I found myself the most irritated with the talking of Burning Man between Benji and Joel - it's not the way people mostly depict it... HOWEVER, I love the mention of the temple - which is a true thing and a place people go to find closure and serenity and for that, I love the author.When it comes down to it, this is just a reader/book mismatch. I appreciate the theme and uniqueness of the book itself but the execution wasn't for my taste. I never connected with the characters or the storyline. A good read for teenagers/YA lovers who love the deeper inner monologues dealing with heavy, socially relevant issues.
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Netgalkey for the ARC! Joel Higgins is an interesting character. He saves most of his text messages instead of sending them and thinks of replies in his head while he says what people want to hear. While you might say that’s probably typical of a lot of teenagers, I say he’s still not typical. He thinks and feels so much as he is volunteering at a soup kitchen and struggling with the absence of his best friend and being a big brother and good son and teen in “strong like” with a fellow Thanks to Netgalkey for the ARC! Joel Higgins is an interesting character. He saves most of his text messages instead of sending them and thinks of replies in his head while he says what people want to hear. While you might say that’s probably typical of a lot of teenagers, I say he’s still not typical. He thinks and feels so much as he is volunteering at a soup kitchen and struggling with the absence of his best friend and being a big brother and good son and teen in “strong like” with a fellow student. I love his mind and how he is sarcastic and honest with himself, even if it takes some time to manifest that true honesty. The characters he comes in contact with both challenge and change him, and they added humor to the story, too. Benj is ridiculous but reveals so much more to his story as the book progresses, and the fact that he refers to his mom as “Jesus, Mary” because his dad says that so much made me smile until the end of the book. There are some twists and turns in here that I sort of saw coming (luckily not as tragic or traumatic as they could have been), and the love interest is realistic, thank goodness.This book is one that wasn’t incredibly complex and deep compared to others I read, but it is one I find myself still thinking about a week after I read it. Just FYI there is some profanity and some more mature themes and topics in here.
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  • Rayleigh
    January 1, 1970
    He was told that keeping a journal to vent out his feelings would help him get over the "thing" that happened, but why would he do something that "girly"? No, that absolutely IS NOT going to happen. So he sends text messages to people. Only, never sends them. So basically he types out the messages and saves them as "draft" to his phone. So basically, yeah, he keeps a journal.Words We Don't Say is packed full of easy laughs and heart wrenching conversations. Joel is a junior in High School dealin He was told that keeping a journal to vent out his feelings would help him get over the "thing" that happened, but why would he do something that "girly"? No, that absolutely IS NOT going to happen. So he sends text messages to people. Only, never sends them. So basically he types out the messages and saves them as "draft" to his phone. So basically, yeah, he keeps a journal.Words We Don't Say is packed full of easy laughs and heart wrenching conversations. Joel is a junior in High School dealing with anxiety, depression, and an overwhelming feeling of helplessness when he looks at all the bad that has happened in everyone's lives, especially while he works in the soup kitchen. Compare that to Eli, his perfect image of a dream girl, who leans on a God he doesn't believe in and strives to fix every problem to the best of her ability. Even when her efforts don't seem to effect the total of the world's problems, she's never discouraged from doing good; and he wants that.This book was really hard to put down. One minute I was laughing out loud and another I was almost ready to cry. The way this book is written keeps the book moving at a steady pace and it's easy to fall for the characters.I loved the messages this book illustrated too. In my review of I Wish by Elizabeth Langston, I mentioned that I have several close friends and family in the military, which makes me appreciative of any book that honors and respects those who give up so much for our freedom. Well, Words We Don't Say broke my heart with the awareness it brings to homeless Vets and PTSD. During a conversation with one of the Vets as he describes what it was like coming home from Afghanistan for the first time, time froze and I couldn't even begin to image myself in his shoes, and even though this was a fictional character, it still happens in real life. The author did a phenomenal job at separating the funny from the serious, but she also blended the two together in a way that didn't make either stand out of place.I do need to mention that this is NOT a Christian book even though there is a Christian character. The are profuse amounts of cursing (including "gd" and the f-word more than 10 times) and plenty of sexual comments that may turn some readers away (no sex scenes or actions though). There are also mentions of homosexuals, though no characters.Overall, this book gets 4 out of 5 stars from me, because of the messages, illustrations, and excellently written story. It would receive a full 5 stars if the cursing hadn't been as strong as it was.THIS BOOK IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE UNTIL OCTOBER 2018! BUT YOU CAN PRE-ORDER NOW FROM AMAZON!WIN A COPY BEFORE IT RELEASES ON GOODREADS!I received an ARC from the author for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are entirely my own.This is a LiteratureApproved.com Review.
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  • Amanda
    January 1, 1970
    Part hilarious. Part mystery. Part drama. Part romance. Part learning opportunity. I entered to win this book so I could give it to my stepdaughter. I thought she might like it based on the synopsis. I read it before giving it to her, and I don't want to give it up! This book was so good! It has so many elements; it keeps it interesting! And what a great way to teach teenagers the world is bigger than them, and just because there are bad things in life, doesn't mean life is all bad. I recommend Part hilarious. Part mystery. Part drama. Part romance. Part learning opportunity. I entered to win this book so I could give it to my stepdaughter. I thought she might like it based on the synopsis. I read it before giving it to her, and I don't want to give it up! This book was so good! It has so many elements; it keeps it interesting! And what a great way to teach teenagers the world is bigger than them, and just because there are bad things in life, doesn't mean life is all bad. I recommend this book to anyone though! (PS. Don't worry. I'm giving it to my stepdaughter.)
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    A really interesting read in an interesting style. I liked the character development and I liked the way it was written. I felt like it is a story that will grab some of my students who like things that are a bit different. I also feel like the topics brought up and how we handle those things we can't say will really resonate with some of my students. I waited a while to start this but I am glad that I did eventually read it. Joel's character is one I won't quickly forget. Thank you netgalley fo A really interesting read in an interesting style. I liked the character development and I liked the way it was written. I felt like it is a story that will grab some of my students who like things that are a bit different. I also feel like the topics brought up and how we handle those things we can't say will really resonate with some of my students. I waited a while to start this but I am glad that I did eventually read it. Joel's character is one I won't quickly forget. Thank you netgalley for this arc in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Dani
    January 1, 1970
    This book was absolutely PHENOMENAL. It was emotional and NEW and something I didn't think I'd ever read in a YA novel and everything I have come to appreciate. It was engaging and raw and so unique, I haven't read any other book like this one. So, so fantastic.
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  • Scott Bartlett
    January 1, 1970
    Joel Higgins has a phone full of unsent text messages. He has gone through some difficult experiences lately, and his phone is his personal journal. Whenever he has something to say, he writes it in a text, then saves the draft for later so he does not send something he might regret later. If only Joel could put his life on hold the same way, he might be able to change some of the choices he makes. Despite a lot of negative events in his life, Joel still finds a way to make a difference in the w Joel Higgins has a phone full of unsent text messages. He has gone through some difficult experiences lately, and his phone is his personal journal. Whenever he has something to say, he writes it in a text, then saves the draft for later so he does not send something he might regret later. If only Joel could put his life on hold the same way, he might be able to change some of the choices he makes. Despite a lot of negative events in his life, Joel still finds a way to make a difference in the world in his own way.This book was an amazing read overall, but there were a few parts that were hard to read. Joel's rambling rants can be a bit much, but it was worth getting through them. Hopefully after reading this, people realize that they should appreciate what they have, and help others if they have a way.
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  • Jenn
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC of this title from the publisher for an honest review.A terrible thing has happened in Joel Higgins life and he's left feeling pretty alone. He constructs text messages that he saves, but never sends. He does his school's mandatory volunteer service at a local soup kitchen. And he tries to make it through high school. But in his volunteer work and in his English class, he gets to hang out with Eli, the most perfect girl in the world, and Benj, the weird new kid who maybe poison I received an ARC of this title from the publisher for an honest review.A terrible thing has happened in Joel Higgins life and he's left feeling pretty alone. He constructs text messages that he saves, but never sends. He does his school's mandatory volunteer service at a local soup kitchen. And he tries to make it through high school. But in his volunteer work and in his English class, he gets to hang out with Eli, the most perfect girl in the world, and Benj, the weird new kid who maybe poisoned both his parents. This book had a bit of an Evan Hansen vibe, but with way less anxiety from both the main character and as the reader because there are WAY fewer anxiety-making decisions on the part of that main character. I loved the stream-of-consciousness we get from Joel and I smiled every time Jesus, Mary was mentioned.
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  • Eli Celata
    January 1, 1970
    This was an advanced reader copy for the October 2018 publication. There are minor spoilers ahead - I got this book as part of its ARC program.---All the bad gets interest, but good compounds too, and Reilly's point, throughout this whole book, is that we have the ability to work toward ensuring the compounding of the good outpaces the bad.Reilly's main character, Joel, struggles with his friend's death, love for a girl he thinks is out of his league, and a complex desire to help the homeless pe This was an advanced reader copy for the October 2018 publication. There are minor spoilers ahead - I got this book as part of its ARC program.---All the bad gets interest, but good compounds too, and Reilly's point, throughout this whole book, is that we have the ability to work toward ensuring the compounding of the good outpaces the bad.Reilly's main character, Joel, struggles with his friend's death, love for a girl he thinks is out of his league, and a complex desire to help the homeless people who he serves food to at his local soup kitchen. Why is that desire complex? Partly because the issues are complex - veterans with PTSD, people who 'lost the cosmic luck lottery,' and a town doing just the minimum. It's a familiar tale we see throughout the United States (and other countries as well), which makes it easy to become discouraged. Joel also struggles with faith - in God, in humanity, in himself. As someone who grew up Catholic but hasn't had a single day since I was maybe six where I could solidly say I 100% believed in big G God or Heaven or Hell or even an afterlife / grand cosmic plan, this resonated with me. There's so much bad in the world, and it's very easy to let it outshine the good. Some use this reality to claim proof that there has to be a God because without a big G God, the reality of who we are as a species and what the universe is as a whole becomes unbearable. As someone with a MSc and the bulk of a doctorate under my belt, I've always thought the unbearableness made it believable - the lack of anything else, any plan, any divine power.However, helplessness doesn't make the world better. Sulking about God or no god won't feed the hungry, give shelter to the homeless, or heal the wounded. It's just another wall we build around ourselves, and in doing so, we harm ourselves and the world even more. As Joel reaches out to a new veteran, Rooster, Joel finds Benj - the weird new kid at school - reaching out toward him. Both relationships strain Joel, but as he makes breakthroughs on either side, we see him healing, and his relationship with his crush, Eli, becomes more complicated. He adores her, and she reached out after his best friend, Andy died, but her liking him as more seems impossible to him. However, a collection of 'big bad' compounding hits, and it's only in hindsight - thanks Benj - that we see sometimes bad leads to good. Sometimes things get better, and we're more in control of then we like to give ourselves credit for being.An amazing coming of age story that follows this year's trend of friend deaths and the fallout of death in general (not that this is a new trend, see: Sense and Sensibility). Poignant with characters multidimensional enough to annoy and delight.
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  • Cheryl
    January 1, 1970
    This is a terrific YA book! The characters are wonderful and have the depth required for the reader to care about them. The premise is lovely and the story moves quickly. Fans of YA novels and teens, both male and female, will enjoy this wonderful story of friendship, love and healing.
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  • Mitch
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book. It's a unique story of a teenager, Joel, who has suffered a traumatic experience and has bottled up his emotions and responses, except for the hundreds of text messages he has written and saved unsent on his phone to three indivuals: his principal, his best friend and his secret love. He's a troubled but noble young man who makes mistakes and struggles with guilt, some of which he needs to learn to set aside.
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by the publisher, Disney Book Group, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.I'm honestly sitting here staring at this blank screen and I'm not even sure what I want to rate this book. There were so many great things about this book, and a lot of them I didn't even see coming. It was way more of a heartbreaking book than I thought it would be, and I definitely did not prepare myself.WHAT I LOVED:The main characters. This is a no-brainer. All three of these characters were so ARC provided by the publisher, Disney Book Group, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.I'm honestly sitting here staring at this blank screen and I'm not even sure what I want to rate this book. There were so many great things about this book, and a lot of them I didn't even see coming. It was way more of a heartbreaking book than I thought it would be, and I definitely did not prepare myself.WHAT I LOVED:The main characters. This is a no-brainer. All three of these characters were so relatable in their own way, and were so endearing throughout the story.-Joel: an 11th grade boy with over 900 saved texts on his phone. These texts go to his crush Eli, his best friend Andy (who's no longer around, you find out why as the story develops), and his principal. He types out what he's feeling and then saves them as a draft, never to be sent. The thing I love most about Joel is how much he contemplates the world around him. When he sees a problem for others (and I mean BIG problems: world hunger, life for veterans after they return from the war, homelessness) it sticks with him for days and days. Throughout the book we see him question everything - why things are the way they are, if they have to stay that way, and if he has the power to affect change. He also adores his brother, but throughout the book shows a moderate level of loathing for himself."Joel Higgins doesn't have to follow the rules...He's mad at the whole world."-Eli: a pretty girl in Joel's class. Joel has had a crush on Eli for years, and he describes her as someone who's great at making lists and fixing things. Eli is also very religious, which results in some very interesting conversations between her and Joel, who is constantly questioning the afterlife. Eli is kind, compassionate, and volunteers at the soup kitchen with Joel once a week after school. Eli feels like she can do anything to change the world if she just wants it bad enough."Eli picked the soup kitchen because she liked feeding people. And I picked the soup kitchen because I liked watching Eli do just about anything at all."-Our third MC is Benj, who's the new boy at school. There's a rumor going around about him that he poisoned his parents, and he has a terrible habit of blurting out whatever he's thinking at the most inopportune moments. Both of these things combined means he has no friends. As the story goes on you learn a little bit more about Benj's past, and he and Joel grow into something resembling a friendship.I loved how Joel typed out texts but never sent them. Confession time: WE HAVE ALL DONE THIS. These unsent texts turn into something of a diary for him, and a way to sort through everything he's feeling. I also love how they give us a peek at his friendship with Andy, who's such a pivotal character in this book even though he's no longer in the picture."Joel, at some point you are going to have to stop going backward and put the vehicle in drive and move forward."I don't typically list one particular scene as something that I loved about a book, but I'm doing it here. I honestly highlighted this entire page on my iPad. If you don't want mild spoilers, skip this part, but I promise it doesn't reveal anything about the path the characters take or what happens to them at the end. There's a scene in English class where Benj asks why they're reading so many "gay books" - as in books with gay characters. As Benj digs himself into a deeper and deeper hole, the teacher points out that perhaps he meant to ask why they were reading so many books with gay characters in them. He then proceeds to point out that they should because they CAN. And then lists - I am not kidding - every single country in which you can be arrested or put to death for reading a book with gay themes or characters. ALL. THE. FEELS. I really wanted to stand up and applaud at this point. Having to turn the page three times before I got to the end of that list was so powerful, and ultimately reminded me how lucky I am to live in this country and have freedom of speech.WHAT I DIDN'T:I have a couple pet peeves with writing, and one of them is run-on sentences. I understand that these run-ons were for a purpose: The author wrote Joel's rambling internal monologues without much punctuation at all, and I'll admit it did add to your understanding of Joel's character and what he was thinking. But ultimately I ended up skimming through most of these, and I feel like it took away from the reading experience.While I loved how in-your-face this book was, and how it didn't pull any punches when it came to the tough conversations, I felt like it tried to tackle TOO many things. It was also pretty heavy-handed, which made it feel a little preachy at times. Here are some, but not all, of the topics this book made a point to include: calling objects "gay"/discrimination, free speech, God/death/the afterlife, homelessness, world hunger, veterans, childhood loss, and some fleeting thoughts of suicide. At times I felt like I could't turn the page without the author trying to sneak in some big meaningful topic. Don't get me wrong - THESE DISCUSSIONS ARE SO IMPORTANT. I just felt like they were so heavy-handed and so numerous that it took away from what the author was trying to say. The messages would have been so much more powerful if they had picked half the topics but packed twice the punch.I also feel like I should mention there was one scene where the English teacher makes a couple remarks making fun of "trigger words" or "trigger warnings" which honestly made me feel a little icky - this alone led me to drop half a star, actually.Ultimately, I ended up giving this book 3.5 stars. Despite my struggles with the run-on sentences and my irritation at the trigger word scene, this book tackled so many important topics. It was in your face, so relatable, and so so brave. I loved the insight it gave to a teenage boy struggling through enormous issues, in addition to everything that surviving high school brings to the table. If everyone gave these issues half the thought that Joel did, the world would be a better place.Words We Don't Say releases on October 2nd.xoxoJen**all quotes are taking from an eARC prior to publication and are subject to change by release date.
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  • Tara Weiss
    January 1, 1970
    Holden Caulfield with a conscience . . . the internal monologue of Joel made this story come alive and humanize the issues of food insecurity, PTSD, veterans affairs, depression, loss, anger, gun control, religion . . . wow! There are so many levels to this story and it is woven together with the dialogue of Joel who thinks one thing and says another, who writes text messages and doesn't send them, who has both a heart and a sense of humor. The story says a lot about what teens care about and wh Holden Caulfield with a conscience . . . the internal monologue of Joel made this story come alive and humanize the issues of food insecurity, PTSD, veterans affairs, depression, loss, anger, gun control, religion . . . wow! There are so many levels to this story and it is woven together with the dialogue of Joel who thinks one thing and says another, who writes text messages and doesn't send them, who has both a heart and a sense of humor. The story says a lot about what teens care about and what they can do to take action. There is a section after the story ends with ways to make a difference in these areas. I really feel this book fills a great need in YA . . . and I think it's an important book to add to the collection.
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  • Shelley
    January 1, 1970
    Definitely not close to anything I've ever read before. I loved this book. I loved the way the author brought up taboo topics rarely discussed in books, and I loved the voices of the youth the author used.
  • Arlen
    January 1, 1970
    Book Review: Words We Don't Say by K.J. ReillyPub Date: 02 Oct 2018Read courtesy of netgalley.comGuilty admission... I skipped the "rambling monologues." I know, I know. They were part of and points of the story, but I guess I 'got it' by just skimming them. Otherwise, I enjoyed the characters and the 'message' of the book. It's a good message: Learn from your mistakes... or start your life from here 'cause you can't go back... or look for the good as well as the bad, and you'll find it. The cha Book Review: Words We Don't Say by K.J. ReillyPub Date: 02 Oct 2018Read courtesy of netgalley.comGuilty admission... I skipped the "rambling monologues." I know, I know. They were part of and points of the story, but I guess I 'got it' by just skimming them. Otherwise, I enjoyed the characters and the 'message' of the book. It's a good message: Learn from your mistakes... or start your life from here 'cause you can't go back... or look for the good as well as the bad, and you'll find it. The characters all had a place in the story; I didn't feel any of them were just-because. And there was true growth in the characters over time.I suppose my hesitancy to love the book comes from the author including both humor and rambling monologues. I found it distracting to pick through the monologues, especially when two different characters used the technique. (Yes, one could argue that it was exactly that quality that brought the two characters together, and I'd agree with you.)Another hesitancy is that the front end storytelling took up 85% of the book, and then the last 15% of the story snowballed quickly and had all of the depth, action, and meaning. So, yeh, the pace of the book threw me off. I almost stopped reading 60% through the book because nothing was happening. But since I liked the characters, I pushed through.While this isn't a 'humorous' book, I might categorize it as such because I think it's written 85% too lighthearted to be in my 'realistic fiction' section. I'm sorry to say that humorous books don't get enough circulation off of my high school library shelves, so I don't know how well this would circulate, either. It's also not quite fodder for my 'death, drugs, and disease' section; not dark enough and too much of a happy ending.I will say that it is a well crafted story - hints and innuendos are neatly entwined and tied up, behaviors and actions are connected and followed through.
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  • Mandy Peterson
    January 1, 1970
    I went into this book thinking it would be somewhat like "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" by Jenny Han. I'm not sure why. Maybe the unsent letters/text premise?Boy, I could not have been more off! "Words We Don't Say" first kind of seems to meander around the soup kitchen and Joel and then we find out about Eli and then his deceased friend, etc. All of the wandering DOES have a purpose though as we reaching about half-way through. That's when it all really starts coming together. I happened t I went into this book thinking it would be somewhat like "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" by Jenny Han. I'm not sure why. Maybe the unsent letters/text premise?Boy, I could not have been more off! "Words We Don't Say" first kind of seems to meander around the soup kitchen and Joel and then we find out about Eli and then his deceased friend, etc. All of the wandering DOES have a purpose though as we reaching about half-way through. That's when it all really starts coming together. I happened to read this book during Banned Books Week so the scene at school where Benj (he's a troubled kiddo who snags Joel's attention) questions why they are reading "gay" books. (His words.) The teacher takes that and makes it into a great learning opportunity about how lucky we are to have the freedom to read what they want and how they don't have this freedom in many other countries! They even LIST all of the countries. That, plus the discussion about trigger warnings (which made me feel a little uncomfortable to be honest), were very cool Easter Eggs for Banned Books Week.There are A LOT of issues discussed in this book: veterans, death, grief, homelessness, hunger, God, intellectual freedom, and crushes. At times, it felt like a little "much". Then, I remembered, you know what? Life can be a little "much". It's very realistic. So I had to tell myself to get out of my own head and into Joel's. This book would be an interesting conversation-starter.
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    Words We Don't Say took me by surprise. I assumed it was going to be just another lighthearted contemporary, but it was so much more. The story follows Joel, a seventeen-year-old whose best friends Andy is no longer around. Joel volunteers at a local soup kitchen with his friend Eli, who he's been in love with for like ever. And of course, she has no idea about his feelings because that's just how these stories go.Joel has this habit of typing out text messages but never sending them. He's got s Words We Don't Say took me by surprise. I assumed it was going to be just another lighthearted contemporary, but it was so much more. The story follows Joel, a seventeen-year-old whose best friends Andy is no longer around. Joel volunteers at a local soup kitchen with his friend Eli, who he's been in love with for like ever. And of course, she has no idea about his feelings because that's just how these stories go.Joel has this habit of typing out text messages but never sending them. He's got something like 900 unsent drafts in his phone. So he's basically never really telling anyone how he actually feels or what's going on with him. As he spends more time at the soup kitchen he learns more about the regulars, some of whom are veterans and suffering from PTSD. Joel's experiences open up his eyes to some of the injustices in the world and there's a lot that he wants to change. This book is definitely character driven. It's about Joel and everything he's struggling with. He is a super relatable character. He's so angry and has his own bit of PTSD. He thinks and feels so much, even though he's not able to articulate everything. He's sarcastic yet honest with himself. The characters he interacts with challenge him and show him parts of the world he was blind to before. This book wasn't as complicated or as deep as others, because everything was written so bluntly but still with so much feeling. I laughed, I cried and thoroughly enjoyed reading this one.
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  • Jenni Frencham
    January 1, 1970
    Reilly, K.J. Words We Don't Say. Disney-Hyperion, 2018Joel doesn't talk anymore. He drafts text messages that he never sends, but just spends his time keeping his head down and not getting involved with anything. During his mandatory soup kitchen volunteer time, he gets to know some of his classmates as well as some of the guests at the soup kitchen and then learns about how the world is bigger than his problems. I think there is a reader somewhere for this book, but I am not that person. The bo Reilly, K.J. Words We Don't Say. Disney-Hyperion, 2018Joel doesn't talk anymore. He drafts text messages that he never sends, but just spends his time keeping his head down and not getting involved with anything. During his mandatory soup kitchen volunteer time, he gets to know some of his classmates as well as some of the guests at the soup kitchen and then learns about how the world is bigger than his problems. I think there is a reader somewhere for this book, but I am not that person. The book starts off in the middle of a shift at the soup kitchen, and it takes a very long time to figure out what's going on. Joel may not talk much to other people, but he rambles a lot in his head, and the majority of this book focuses on his internal monologue. As such, it takes a long time to get to know the other characters. It's also not a compelling, page-turning read. I would give this book to strong readers who enjoy books that are more character study than plot.Recommended for: teensRed Flags: occasional languageOverall Rating: 3/5 starsI received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley for the purpose of review.
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  • Kara
    January 1, 1970
    I want to start off saying I went into this book blind, like I do all books. The voice K.J. gave Joel read like a teenager. His voice was genuine and his random, anxious thinking was realistic for his age. I loved the concept of saving drafts of his text messages. I empathized with him that at times he felt he shouldn’t share his true voice. The secondary characters were also spot on: Eli, Benj, Jacey, Alex B. And of course, Joel’s parents. The downside that cut up the forward flow in the plot f I want to start off saying I went into this book blind, like I do all books. The voice K.J. gave Joel read like a teenager. His voice was genuine and his random, anxious thinking was realistic for his age. I loved the concept of saving drafts of his text messages. I empathized with him that at times he felt he shouldn’t share his true voice. The secondary characters were also spot on: Eli, Benj, Jacey, Alex B. And of course, Joel’s parents. The downside that cut up the forward flow in the plot for me was the repeated statements, the run-on sentences, and the holes in the storyline. I loved the hands-on postivity and kindness of the characters and the genuineness in their actions. Finding out the horrible thing that happened and how it all pieced together near the very end of the novel was another let down for me. I felt the ending brough closure, in a move forward way, but there were many events that were irrelevant which would make for the climax to have happened earlier in the novel. Overall, I appreciated the message of “Words We Don’t Say”.
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  • Elly
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of K.J.Reilly's forthcoming young adult novel,Words We Don't Say, hitting bookstores in October. I rated this 4/5 Stars...More like 3.5 stars, but I’ll round up this time because Joel’s struggle and character development worked for me. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to love this book but I felt compelled to see it through and I am glad it did. I appreciated Joel’s evolution from having so much inside him that he couldn’t share...so very Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of K.J.Reilly's forthcoming young adult novel,Words We Don't Say, hitting bookstores in October. I rated this 4/5 Stars...More like 3.5 stars, but I’ll round up this time because Joel’s struggle and character development worked for me. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to love this book but I felt compelled to see it through and I am glad it did. I appreciated Joel’s evolution from having so much inside him that he couldn’t share...so very like many young people I know and work with. The author’s use of saved text messages brought this age old struggle beautifully into the present. I loved the PTSD/veteran storyline but I will confess that I didn’t love the darkness that the gun brought to the story. That alone will give me pause in recommending this to students. Otherwise, it was a powerful commentary on the curse of PTSD that taught me much about a problem that needs to be better addressed in our society.
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  • Holly Brumback
    January 1, 1970
    When I started reading Words We Don't Say, I just didn't like it. I didn't like Joel's rambling thoughts; it really just made my head hurt. I didn't like that nothing seemed to be happening, but for some reason, I really felt like I needed to keep reading. I'm glad that I did.Things totally do happen in this book, and they are both thought provoking and frustrating. Of course, there is some joy thrown in. Joel is complicated because life is complicated. He makes mistakes, and he tries to do the When I started reading Words We Don't Say, I just didn't like it. I didn't like Joel's rambling thoughts; it really just made my head hurt. I didn't like that nothing seemed to be happening, but for some reason, I really felt like I needed to keep reading. I'm glad that I did.Things totally do happen in this book, and they are both thought provoking and frustrating. Of course, there is some joy thrown in. Joel is complicated because life is complicated. He makes mistakes, and he tries to do the right thing. He has the beginnings of two solid friends that help steer and support him.I can't say that I ever got over Joel's rambling thoughts, but I still really appreciated how the book dealt with life (religion, guns, homelessness, veterans, PTSD, banned books, automatic 'F's'). Thank you to Netgalley & Disney-Hyperion for a copy of this book!
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  • Ab
    January 1, 1970
    A somewhat solemn book about a boy, Joel, who has experienced something tragic in losing a best friend. He keeps unsent text messages to his friend, a girl he likes (Eli), and his school principal, which range from random observations to diary-like confessions of emotion. Joel works at a soup kitchen, mostly because he likes a girl there, but also he ends up being pretty connected/concerned about the folks who pass through. He's always thinking big, sad thoughts about the state of the world and A somewhat solemn book about a boy, Joel, who has experienced something tragic in losing a best friend. He keeps unsent text messages to his friend, a girl he likes (Eli), and his school principal, which range from random observations to diary-like confessions of emotion. Joel works at a soup kitchen, mostly because he likes a girl there, but also he ends up being pretty connected/concerned about the folks who pass through. He's always thinking big, sad thoughts about the state of the world and about people, and he doesn't share much since he lost his friend. There's a lot about homelessness and the number of homeless veterans, and a whole interested segment devoted to the discussion in one English class about how we're lucky enough to get to read books banned for a number of reasons in other countries and even states. Lots of big thoughts, a lot to mull over, and a pretty decent read.
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  • Tara
    January 1, 1970
    Joel is trying to figure out how to put his life back together. He misses his best friend Andy, and is in love with a girl who doesn't know how he feels. Joel spends his time taking care of his little brother and helping Eli at the soup kitchen so he can spend as much time as possible with her. Through Joel's interactions with a homeless man at the shelter, maybe he can figure out where he's going in life.I really wanted to like Words We Don't Say. I liked that the story addressed homeless veter Joel is trying to figure out how to put his life back together. He misses his best friend Andy, and is in love with a girl who doesn't know how he feels. Joel spends his time taking care of his little brother and helping Eli at the soup kitchen so he can spend as much time as possible with her. Through Joel's interactions with a homeless man at the shelter, maybe he can figure out where he's going in life.I really wanted to like Words We Don't Say. I liked that the story addressed homeless veterans and PTSD, and I truly liked how it ended. That being said, I really hated how it was written. The rambling narrative style was just too much for me, and the repetition got annoying. I did like seeing Joel's unsent text messages--that helped the narrative. I think this book will appeal to some of our readers, but not too many.I read an ARC from NetGalley.
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  • Laura ( Latteandbooks )
    January 1, 1970
    When I read the synopsis of this book I thought that it was interesting. Joel is an interesting character he saves most of his text messages, he doesn’t hit send. He bottles up his emotions.  He’s also volunteering at a soup kitchen and struggling with not having his best friend Andy died. He’s just trying to make it though high school.One of the things that I enjoyed with Joel was that he was sarcastic and yet honest with himself. I loved how the book deals with some of the important things at When I read the synopsis of this book I thought that it was interesting. Joel is an interesting character he saves most of his text messages, he doesn’t hit send. He bottles up his emotions.  He’s also volunteering at a soup kitchen and struggling with not having his best friend Andy died. He’s just trying to make it though high school.
One of the things that I enjoyed with Joel was that he was sarcastic and yet honest with himself. I loved how the book deals with some of the important things at that are going on in the world now like homelessness, guns, religion PTSD etc. I don’t want to give away too much.
After reading this book I think it’s a coming of age story that all teens should read. Because of the topics at hand. I think they will find it relatable.

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  • Ceh131973
    January 1, 1970
    Have you ever thought of everything we don't say and how that effects us? This is what this book seems to address dealing with loss, anger, love, and self doubt. It has a unique voice in Joel and his use of unsent text messeges. The issues this book raises and the discussions that could/should be had are important. Perhaps one day we will all be able to speak even if the words are unpleasent but not hate filled, without trigger warnings.
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  • Sonja
    January 1, 1970
    Told with a laugh-out-loud, stream of consciousness style voice and quirky, unsent texts, this story touches on grief, unexpected friendship, community responsibility, faith, and long-suppressed crushes. It is sweet and adorable and heart-rending - just like I like my realistic fiction.
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