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Things We Couldn't Say

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From one of the brightest and most acclaimed new lights in YA fiction, a fantastic new novel about a bi Black boy finding first love . . . and facing the return of the mother who abandoned his preacher family when he was nine. There's always been a hole in Gio's life. Not because he's into both guys and girls. Not because his father has some drinking issues. Not because his From one of the brightest and most acclaimed new lights in YA fiction, a fantastic new novel about a bi Black boy finding first love . . . and facing the return of the mother who abandoned his preacher family when he was nine. There's always been a hole in Gio's life. Not because he's into both guys and girls. Not because his father has some drinking issues. Not because his friends are always bringing him their drama. No, the hole in Gio's life takes the shape of his birth mom, who left Gio, his brother, and his father when Gio was nine years old. For eight years, he never heard a word from her . . . and now, just as he's started to get his life together, she's back. It's hard for Gio to know what to do. Can he forgive her like she wants to be forgiven? Or should he tell her she lost her chance to be in his life? Complicating things further, Gio's started to hang out with David, a new guy on the basketball team. Are they friends? More than friends? At first, Gio's not sure . . . especially because he's not sure what he wants from anyone right now. There are no easy answers to love -- whether it's family love or friend love or romantic love. In Things We Couldn't Say, Jay Coles, acclaimed author of Tyler Johnson Was Here, shows us a guy trying to navigate love in all its ambiguity -- hoping at the other end he'll be able to figure out who is and who he should be.


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From one of the brightest and most acclaimed new lights in YA fiction, a fantastic new novel about a bi Black boy finding first love . . . and facing the return of the mother who abandoned his preacher family when he was nine. There's always been a hole in Gio's life. Not because he's into both guys and girls. Not because his father has some drinking issues. Not because his From one of the brightest and most acclaimed new lights in YA fiction, a fantastic new novel about a bi Black boy finding first love . . . and facing the return of the mother who abandoned his preacher family when he was nine. There's always been a hole in Gio's life. Not because he's into both guys and girls. Not because his father has some drinking issues. Not because his friends are always bringing him their drama. No, the hole in Gio's life takes the shape of his birth mom, who left Gio, his brother, and his father when Gio was nine years old. For eight years, he never heard a word from her . . . and now, just as he's started to get his life together, she's back. It's hard for Gio to know what to do. Can he forgive her like she wants to be forgiven? Or should he tell her she lost her chance to be in his life? Complicating things further, Gio's started to hang out with David, a new guy on the basketball team. Are they friends? More than friends? At first, Gio's not sure . . . especially because he's not sure what he wants from anyone right now. There are no easy answers to love -- whether it's family love or friend love or romantic love. In Things We Couldn't Say, Jay Coles, acclaimed author of Tyler Johnson Was Here, shows us a guy trying to navigate love in all its ambiguity -- hoping at the other end he'll be able to figure out who is and who he should be.

30 review for Things We Couldn't Say

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jay Coles

    I wrote this book for QPOC!!!!!!!! And AHHHHHHHHHHHH! This story means so much to me and I can't wait for you all to meet these characters, especially Gio & David! <3 I wrote this book for QPOC!!!!!!!! And AHHHHHHHHHHHH! This story means so much to me and I can't wait for you all to meet these characters, especially Gio & David! <3

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jay Coles

    I wrote this book! I love it so much and I can't wait for you all to read it, so you can meet Gio, Ayesha, Olly, Malik, Pops, Karina, Biscuit, July, Ms. Diane, and others! :) I wrote this book! I love it so much and I can't wait for you all to read it, so you can meet Gio, Ayesha, Olly, Malik, Pops, Karina, Biscuit, July, Ms. Diane, and others! :)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest Even though I wasn't the biggest fan of TYLER JOHNSON WAS HERE, I couldn't keep myself from wanting to read this book once I heard about the premise. THINGS WE COULDN'T SAY has so many important themes, ranging from discovering one's sexuality to dealing with feelings of parental abandonment. The hero, Gio, is the son of a preacher and a star basketball player. But he's also bisexual and coming to terms with his feelings of his mom walki Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest Even though I wasn't the biggest fan of TYLER JOHNSON WAS HERE, I couldn't keep myself from wanting to read this book once I heard about the premise. THINGS WE COULDN'T SAY has so many important themes, ranging from discovering one's sexuality to dealing with feelings of parental abandonment. The hero, Gio, is the son of a preacher and a star basketball player. But he's also bisexual and coming to terms with his feelings of his mom walking out years ago. Both those things play major roles in the story, when Gio thinks he might be falling in love for the first time-- and when the ghostly specter of his mother reappears solidly in his life. THINGS WE COULDN'T SAY shares similar themes with other books I have read and enjoyed recently, specifically Kacen Callender's FELIX EVER AFTER and THIS IS KIND OF AN EPIC LOVE STORY, and Brandy Colbert's THE REVOLUTION OF BIRDIE RANDOLPH, so I think if you really enjoyed this books, you'll probably enjoy this one, as well. One of the things I really like about the YA coming out these days is the emphasis on healthy amounts of communication in relationships and the importance of setting boundaries. A lot of the YA I had access to as a teen glossed over these things, and I think it's really important that teens have examples of positive, healthy relationships in their fiction if they want it! THINGS WE COULDN'T SAY handles its difficult subjects pretty well and I think it's clear that Jay Coles has grown a lot as an author since his debut. But something about the narrative fell a little short for me. Gio felt young-- and not young in a realistic way, but young as in, like, middle school (and I think he was supposed to be in high school?). With a lot of high school-age books, there's like this yearning to be taken seriously and seeing yourself as an adult, and I didn't really get that with Gio. The primary focus was on the lessons he had to learn about relationships and the like, which kind of made this feel like an afterschool special in some ways. I believe this was published by Scholastic, which is geared at a younger audience than other teen imprints, but it's something to consider when buying this for a teenager. It's definitely geared more towards preteens and young teens than older teens. Overall, though, I liked this book and look forward to seeing what the author does next. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! 3 stars

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marieke du Pré

    Breathtaking covers, Jay Coles does it again! Search for ‘Tyler Johnson was Here’, take a look at that cover. And then look at this one, again, so powerful and vulnerable at the same time!! I could devote my entire review to the cover, but that wouldn’t do justice to the story. So, instead of telling time and again, how strong and vulnerable and breathtaking and powerful the covers of Jay Coles’ books are, the rest of this review will be dedicated to the story itself. I was pleasantly surprised w Breathtaking covers, Jay Coles does it again! Search for ‘Tyler Johnson was Here’, take a look at that cover. And then look at this one, again, so powerful and vulnerable at the same time!! I could devote my entire review to the cover, but that wouldn’t do justice to the story. So, instead of telling time and again, how strong and vulnerable and breathtaking and powerful the covers of Jay Coles’ books are, the rest of this review will be dedicated to the story itself. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out there’s bi/bi rep in this story. The romance is not the main plot, but until now, I haven’t seen bi/bi boys rep a lot in YA. Love it! His birth mom suddenly leaving her family eight years ago, has touched Gio deeply. Living in the Hood, a mostly Black community where the 7th Street Disciples rule and his father is a preacher (and an alcoholic), Gio has had therapy to deal with his mom’s disappearance, and when she suddenly returns, his world is turned upside down again. Sometimes the one who left you in pieces comes back. Sometimes they’re different and other times, they’re the same as before, but what’s important is what you make of their return. Sometimes, you just ain’t ready. Ready to heal. Ready to forgive. Ready to move forward. And that’s okay. Gio is not ready. Not ready to face his birth mom, not ready to talk to her. The continuous maelstrom of thoughts starts to rule his life. Next to the bi rep I also loved how Jay Coles handled vulnerability in this story. Gio could cry, be depressed and talk about his feelings without being found weird. So once again, the cover is so fitting. Furthermore, I had a soft spot for Malik, he reminded me a bit of Devon from Ace of Spades, dealing drugs to take care of his family. So wrong and so understandable at the same time. And I loved red-haired David who had his own grief and was so supportive to Gio. I see a boy with the most contagious smile in the universe, the gentlest hands. Your eyes are somewhat sad because of the broken cards you’ve been dealt ... but they’re still the warmest and kindest eyes I’ve ever seen. Some readers might find the writing too simple, but in my opinion, an engaging story doesn’t need difficult words and long sentences. I love wonderful writing, but I also love writing that’s rather plain and blunt. There were some minor things I liked less, which luckily didn’t effect my reading experience. I found the use of the word man outside the dialogues a little offending. I know it’s not meant like that, but still... And I found a comparison to the world wars not fitting. If it’s still editable, I’d change both issues. Jay Coles is becoming one of those authors that I’ll put blindly on my to read list. I’m eagerly waiting for his next book! Oh, and Jay, those playlists were awesome! My teens loved them and were thrilled to see ‘How Could You Leave Us’ by NF is on one of those lists! I received an ARC from Scholastic and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Georgia Fradico

    I loved this book and had a great time reading it. Gio is an amazing main character and his struggles are so real and close to me. I wish it was longer and certain moments and relationships were more developed.

  6. 5 out of 5

    afternoonsunjeans

    WHY is this cover so beautiful??? is this allowed???

  7. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Book 5 stars Audio narration: 3.5-4 stars Rep: Black Bi MC, white bi love interest, secondary queer characters "Soulmates aren't real. ... You're much more likely to find someone that you like enough to love. I like David enough to love. He makes me brave. ... David is a sermon that doesn't need words. One that sings a joyful noise to my bones better than any choir. He's helped me kick down all the fences grief had put up that work to keep the fear in and the happiness out. Fuck butterflies. Ever Book 5 stars Audio narration: 3.5-4 stars Rep: Black Bi MC, white bi love interest, secondary queer characters "Soulmates aren't real. ... You're much more likely to find someone that you like enough to love. I like David enough to love. He makes me brave. ... David is a sermon that doesn't need words. One that sings a joyful noise to my bones better than any choir. He's helped me kick down all the fences grief had put up that work to keep the fear in and the happiness out. Fuck butterflies. Every time I'm around David, my chest heaves so deep and lets out a warmth with his name on it." "Your family can be the people you were born into or the people you choose or some combination of both, but we all step into love. We're all on this crash course of life figuring out the people who we're meant to let go and the ones who are worth every risk." Things we couldn't say is raw and gritty and emotional. It's a story about being comfortable being vulnerable and allowing yourself to feel everything and put your own self-worth first. It's about grief and abandonment and what things are forgivable and what things are not and the choices we make in who we allow into our spaces and into our lives and into our hearts. Things we couldn't say is a stunning young adult book and a really really enjoyed it. We desperately need more books about bi boys and men and I loved how casual Gio's bisexuality is handled in the book. While he isn't out to everyone, he's out to those who matter to him and it's just another facet of his life. I loved his relationship with his brother, Theo as well, and also his stepmom Karina. Gio has formed a family of his own that's made up from some of his bio family but also those who have entered as new family and his friends. The big part of this story is how Gio is dealing with his parents. His birth mom abandoned him when he was young and now she's waltz back in with no explanation. He's hurt and angry when he expected to be happy and it takes him a long time to sort through his emotions about her. Gio is also dealing with a homophobic preacher for a dad who is more concerned about his son inheriting the church he runs than he is about Gio being who he needs to be and doing what makes him happy (basketball). This book tackles a lot of different themes and it does so with grace. It's raw and filled with emotion and tears and vulnerability and that in and of itself is a breath of fresh air. Too often toxic masculinity seeps into every book and it's just not the case here. More often than not Gio's emotions are accompanied by tears and I loved seeing a Black bi boy allowed to feel his feelings without shame from anyone around him. Let's embrace the cathartic nature of crying and allow boys and men to express emotion. I actually ended up listening to the audiobook and I think if I had read the whole book I don't know if I would have noticed these things but the way that the narrator voiced all of the side characters was comically exaggerated. Like his voice for Gio was fantastic and I wish he had kind of tried to stay in that realm instead of making a distinct unique voice for every single side character because what happened is in the quest to be so different from our main character, all of the side characters came across as over the top. Just reading through the chapter you don't get the same level of exaggerated behavior that the narrator brings into this book and for once I think it was a downfall. I would almost recommend reading versus listening. It's not even that he's bad It's just that I found myself inappropriately laughing at times because some of his voices were just hilarious and they were supposed to be super serious moments 😅 especially the narrator's voices for all of the adults in this book just I don't want to say ruined, because this book is still wonderful and it has a lot of merit, but the adult voices were bad. There's no way around it. They were just ridiculous. Even the voices for his friends weren't as bad but we're still over the top. The voice for the love interest he sounds like a fucking stoned hipster the entire time and it was so funny but in a way that wasn't supposed to be funny.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Gabriele | QueerBookdom

    DRC provided by Scholastic Press via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. Representation: bisexual Black protagonist, bisexual secondary character, Black secondary and tertiary characters, Black tertiary character with ALS who uses a wheelchair, bisexual Black tertiary character, queer Black tertiary character. Content Warning: racism, anxiety, biphobia, alcohol abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, mention of suicide, homophobia, HP’s character mention, death, grief. Things DRC provided by Scholastic Press via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. Representation: bisexual Black protagonist, bisexual secondary character, Black secondary and tertiary characters, Black tertiary character with ALS who uses a wheelchair, bisexual Black tertiary character, queer Black tertiary character. Content Warning: racism, anxiety, biphobia, alcohol abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, mention of suicide, homophobia, HP’s character mention, death, grief. Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles is a touching contemporary novel about abandonment, feeling free to be oneself, familial, platonic and romantic love, and emotional liberation. When I started reading this novel, the writing style almost put me off several times and I was tempted to interrupt my reading, but I can say I am quite happy I persevered as the story is moving and engaging (it needed to undergo more rounds of editing though and that is definitely what made me rate this book as average). My favourite parts of the novel are the relationships between Karina and Giovanni (Karina is the best character in this whole book, no discussion. Despite not being their biological mother, she is in all respects their mother, a loving and supportive pillar in their lives) and the one between the Zander siblings (I got teary more than once when reading their scenes together) as I loved how caring and affectionate they are. I also liked the short conversation Giovanni and David have about race: it is often an issue with white queers, and I am speaking as a white queer; there is this tendency of comparing the racism Black people are subjected to queerphobia as if they were comparable in any way, and this is especially even more ignorant if the Black person you are in a conversation with is also queer. Things We Couldn’t Say is a deeply emotional story which I am glad I read. PS: This is more of a general discourse and not a negative feedback towards the book. I just happened to read it in this book, so I felt compelled to comment on it. It irks me immensely how looked-down adults who still live at home in the States are. The mentality that at twenty, one has to be out of the house for good is so annoying and I hated how the characters in the book talked about July.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

    THINGS WE COULDN'T SAY is a powerful read about family and being true to yourself. Giovanni (Gio) lives with his preacher and alcoholic father, caring stepmother, and younger brother, Theo. A major, life-changing moment in his life was when his birth mother left him and his brother with their hurtful father when he was 9 and Theo was 4. Although his father has remarried and he has good friends to help him through life, Gio still feels the hole left behind by his mother, who abandoned them withou THINGS WE COULDN'T SAY is a powerful read about family and being true to yourself. Giovanni (Gio) lives with his preacher and alcoholic father, caring stepmother, and younger brother, Theo. A major, life-changing moment in his life was when his birth mother left him and his brother with their hurtful father when he was 9 and Theo was 4. Although his father has remarried and he has good friends to help him through life, Gio still feels the hole left behind by his mother, who abandoned them without explanation and without seeming to look back. Then, one day, he receives an email from her that she is back in town and wants to see him. Gio is a whole pile of emotions. And then he almost gets run over by a motorcyclist, a new white kid at school, David, who has moved in across the street. It seems like chaos is descending through all the walls he has built. What Gio knows to be true and what his father has condemned is that he is bi, an identity that feels difficult to claim and to embrace. As he gets to know David, he finds someone who is still learning about the racism which Gio frequently experiences and learning how to be an ally - but who is undeniably special to him. While Gio tries to understand his mother, her decisions, and how to bring himself to the other side, he is also learning about how to be fully himself, despite the prejudice against Black and LGBT people. This is a book with some really genuine, heartfelt, and important themes, including those of racism, problematic literature and the way it is taught, family (born and found), LGBT identity, and friendship. As a result, Gio's story is a really powerful one. Gio and Theo were particularly compelling characters, and it was easy to enter their lives and quickly learn to care for them. Their brotherly bond was really beautiful. I also appreciated the strong friendships/found family Gio has with Ayesha and Olly. The romance was also really beautiful, and it was great to see Gio find a way to be himself and love who he loves, even despite the hate given from family and others. The importance of support, love, and being there is a theme that stands out throughout the story. A heartfelt coming-of-age novel, THINGS WE COULDN'T SAY is a powerful read about prejudice, family, and embracing your identity. Highly recommend picking this one up! Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rach

    17-year-old Giovanni Zander lives with his pastor father, his stepmom and his little brother Theo lives in a tough neighbourhood in Indiana. Gio is bisexual. He came out to his friends and stepmom who have been supportive but his father hasn't took it well at all. Gio is also dealng with the lost of his mother who walked out of them eight years ago. To this today Gio doesn't know why she left. Suddenly Gio's mother turns up and want to reconnect. Will Gio be able to deal with this? Things get eve 17-year-old Giovanni Zander lives with his pastor father, his stepmom and his little brother Theo lives in a tough neighbourhood in Indiana. Gio is bisexual. He came out to his friends and stepmom who have been supportive but his father hasn't took it well at all. Gio is also dealng with the lost of his mother who walked out of them eight years ago. To this today Gio doesn't know why she left. Suddenly Gio's mother turns up and want to reconnect. Will Gio be able to deal with this? Things get even more complicated when David, a new boy joins the school and baskeball team. He moves in across from Gio. Gio and David start a budding relationship but is Gio ready for anyone to know about them while dealing with everything else in his life. Gio is the main POV in the book. Gio POV in the book is a strong one. The author doesn't shy away from showing us the problems Gio is dealing with. The problems Gio is dealing with I felt were very realistic and they weren't added just for drama in the book. The romance is a first love relationship. Gio and David start as friends and it slowly develops into more. I did like how the romance didn't just solve all of Gio's problems. I find in some books when the person finds romance it suddenly solves everything. As I said earlier the author doesn't shy away from bringing up topics which include abandonment, racism, homophobia, religion and many more. This is a coming of age book that shows a character trying to come terms with the abandonment of his mother and trying to find his true self. I received a ARC from Edelweiss and the publisher for an objection review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    charlotte,

    Rep: Black bi mc with anxiety, bi li, Black side character with social anxiety, Black side characters, Black sapphic side character, Dominican American sapphic side character CWs: religious homophobia, alcohol abuse, parental abandonment, mentions of suicide

  12. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    I had several issues with this book, but ultimately I liked it a lot in spite of those things. That’s all I really have for you. I realize it’s not a lot—not nearly enough—but here we are.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shelf Blame

    Thank you so much to Pride Book Tours and Scholastic for sending me an ARC of this book! Things We Couldn't Say by Jay Coles is a heartbreaking but hopeful story of abandonment, being true to yourself, and finding the people that help you step into love. Gio has an okay life. Friends that accept him, an amazing little bro, an adorable dog, and a stepmom that stays doing the most for her family. He still can't shake that something is missing in his life. When his birth mom walked out on the family Thank you so much to Pride Book Tours and Scholastic for sending me an ARC of this book! Things We Couldn't Say by Jay Coles is a heartbreaking but hopeful story of abandonment, being true to yourself, and finding the people that help you step into love. Gio has an okay life. Friends that accept him, an amazing little bro, an adorable dog, and a stepmom that stays doing the most for her family. He still can't shake that something is missing in his life. When his birth mom walked out on the family when he was young, it left a wound behind that Gio has been trying to ignore for years. With tensions high between him and his pastor father, one reason being Gio's bisexuality, Gio doesn't feel like he can count on him to be what he needs. When his birth mom shows up again out of the blue, Gio doesn't know which way to turn. Does he forgive the mom he's dreamed of having back? Or does he refuse to let her make his wound bigger? What an emotional journey. This looks like a normal YA contemporary novel about things teenagers have to go through. Family issues and friend issues and dating issues. And it is all that, but it's all that while also being Black. Sitting in school and hating an assignment is pretty universal, but what if that assignment is so full of microaggressions and you can't say anything? Going on a date is an exciting step, but what if you're profiled during the date? Being queer is hard, but being Black and queer is harder because no matter what you're Black first. I really appreciate seeing all of these firsts and challenges through a Black lens to show readers how different two of the same experiences can be. Something else I love about this book is that forgive and forget are not a theme. Gio is really hurt by the abandonment he suffered as a child. It's scarred him emotionally, and for years he's wondered why he wasn't good enough for his mother. When she shows back up, we've expected an emotional reunion, and it's definitely emotional. But I love the emphasis on self-care first. We don't have to forgive anyone we don't want to. We don't have to let those who hurt us back into our lives if that's what's best for us. Gio has to make these decisions, but I'm glad this book didn't preach to let bygones be bygones. While I do think this book could've used one more pass at editing, especially with the pacing and dialogue, I still think it's such an important and emotional book. So glad I had the chance to read it!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jay DeMoir

    4.5 stars!! The only thing I was there'd been was more to the story, but I really enjoyed this one! Jay Coles has such a way with words and I loved his portrayal of Gio. I loved even more than he talked about consent with sex and using protection and demonstrated the way in which consent can/should be given. I loved the growth in his father and Gio's friendship circle. I even loved that the thug was relatable and not just a stereotype. I don't think there isn't anything about this book that I did 4.5 stars!! The only thing I was there'd been was more to the story, but I really enjoyed this one! Jay Coles has such a way with words and I loved his portrayal of Gio. I loved even more than he talked about consent with sex and using protection and demonstrated the way in which consent can/should be given. I loved the growth in his father and Gio's friendship circle. I even loved that the thug was relatable and not just a stereotype. I don't think there isn't anything about this book that I didn't like. It was definitely the representation I felt was needed and I loved it. Going to gift a student with my copy so they can experience the awesomeness, too.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sakina Carter

    This was a very emotional book. Gio was an amazing character and it was an interesting experience going on this journey with him. My heart broke for him and I was so happy to see him find his way and figure out that family isn't always based on the family you are born into. The side characters only made the story better. A great read. This was a very emotional book. Gio was an amazing character and it was an interesting experience going on this journey with him. My heart broke for him and I was so happy to see him find his way and figure out that family isn't always based on the family you are born into. The side characters only made the story better. A great read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    dana

    twitter // blog go to my blog to read the full review! <3 Thank you to Netgalley, Colored Pages Blog Tours, and Scholastic Press for sending me this eARC, and for including me on this blog tour! Things We Couldn’t Say is proof that writing doesn’t have to be complex or flowery to evoke strong emotions. Gio has a small, close group of friends, and they joke about weed and social media. Usually, I cringe when authors try to incorporate teen internet slang/references, but here, it always felt natural twitter // blog go to my blog to read the full review! <3 Thank you to Netgalley, Colored Pages Blog Tours, and Scholastic Press for sending me this eARC, and for including me on this blog tour! Things We Couldn’t Say is proof that writing doesn’t have to be complex or flowery to evoke strong emotions. Gio has a small, close group of friends, and they joke about weed and social media. Usually, I cringe when authors try to incorporate teen internet slang/references, but here, it always felt natural and not overdone. Even the swearing was accurate! I also appreciate Ayesha and Olly’s casual supportiveness. Like real teens, they’re not always eloquent, but they’re present when Gio needs both levity and emotional guidance, though I wish their individual struggles had been more prominent. In this way, the plot is very internal, but external factors are not ignored. Gio faces religious pressure from his father, who is a pastor at a local church and not initially understanding of Gio’s bisexuality. Then, there are Gio’s experiences as a young Black male in the United States. These topics are treated with care, but the novel still ends on a hopeful note.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Bisexual boys deserve love too!! I feel like most bi or pan characters in books are female so it was really nice to see bisexual boys as the main character and love interest. There were so many layers to this book, my favorites being the close relationship Gio has with his younger brother Theo, the healthy discussions or mentions of emotions, crying, and therapy, and the importance and love of community. I love when teenage boys (and men in general) can express themselves and their emotions with Bisexual boys deserve love too!! I feel like most bi or pan characters in books are female so it was really nice to see bisexual boys as the main character and love interest. There were so many layers to this book, my favorites being the close relationship Gio has with his younger brother Theo, the healthy discussions or mentions of emotions, crying, and therapy, and the importance and love of community. I love when teenage boys (and men in general) can express themselves and their emotions without being viewed as "weak" or "unmasculine" and instead have their thoughts and feelings validated and supported. There were some things that wrapped up too quickly for me; one of the characters who is loudly homophobic does a quick 180 that felt a little unrealistic, but overall I highly enjoyed reading. This book does contain parental abandonment, homophobia, racism, and mentions of alcoholism and a past suicide, so take care of yourself when reading.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lu

    Thank you, Scholastic Press and Edelweiss, for the free copy and the chance to read and review this book in exchange of an honest review. TW: racism, homophobia, parental abandonment, parental abuse, side character’s death, suicide (prior to the story), depression, trauma I love reading Things we couldn’t say. With incredible sensitity, the author deals with themes like grief, parental abandoment, homophobia and racism, telling Gio’s story in his complexity, struggles and hopes. I loved the way th Thank you, Scholastic Press and Edelweiss, for the free copy and the chance to read and review this book in exchange of an honest review. TW: racism, homophobia, parental abandonment, parental abuse, side character’s death, suicide (prior to the story), depression, trauma I love reading Things we couldn’t say. With incredible sensitity, the author deals with themes like grief, parental abandoment, homophobia and racism, telling Gio’s story in his complexity, struggles and hopes. I loved the way the author talks about depression and anxiety, in a very relatable way and his writing style is absolutely amazing, I was really in love since the beginning. The story is told by Gio’s POV and he’s a fantastic main character, complex and intricate, brave and scared, upset and willing to fight for himself, to be who he is. In his life there always have been an hole, ever since his birth mother left him, his bother and father, when he was nine years old. Gio struggled and struggles with depression, anxiety and, thanks to his therapy, is trying to get his life back together, when his mother suddenly came back, crashing into his life and upsetting everything and everyone. Things are even more complicated since the basketball team has a new member, Gio’s new neighbour, David and when they start to hang together, Gio is even more confused about his feelings, what he wants from life and for himself. Things we couldn’t say is a powerful and moving book, written beautifully and I felt really involved in Gio’s story, following his struggles, fears, desires and hopes. He’s a very relatable character in his feelings, thoughts and actions and it was incredible following his journey towards accepting and loving himself, learning more about love, family and forgiviness. Gio’s life isn’t easy. At home he struggles with his drinking and preacher father, who doesn’t want to accept his bisexuality and wants to impose his ideas and thoughts on Gio. He battles with his anxiety and depression, his feelings of unworthiness, ever since he was abandoned, fighting against nightmares and bad thoughts. His mother’s return upsets his already messy life, forcing him to deal with his feelings, fears and hopes. At the same time, while dealing with themes like abandoment, depression, homophobia and abuse, the story stands out for its hope and love, because it’s clear, right away, how Gio is surrounded by people who loves him, from the beautiful and strong bond with his best friends, Olly and Ayesha, his relationship with his brother Theo, with his stepmother Karina and, also, with David, his new friend and, maybe, something more. I loved reading Gio’s journey, his friendship with Olly and Ayesha, the sweet and intense story with David, how they meet, fit together and love one other in a wonderful and brilliant relationship, made of love, understanding and support. In Things we couldn’t say Gio tackles relationships and love, between friends, siblings, lovers and parents, grief, rage, identity, struggling to accept and love himself for who he is in all his parts, fighting against those who wants only some of him, learning what love and family means, learning to accept and forgive. It was moving and interesting reading how much Gio grows in this book, realizing how is worthy of love, what family means, the importance of being oneself in all his parts. I loved the importance of talking and therapy in this book, how much people can change and grow, how it’s vital to fight for one’s happiness and freedom. I totally recommed this book to those who are looking for a cute love story, a journey to love and accept oneself and amazing friendships!

  19. 5 out of 5

    TheEuphoricZat

    Thanks to The Coloured Pages for making this book available to me as part of the blog tour. I really loved this book because not only does it talk about the black experience, it focuses more on black joy, queer joy without neglecting or hiding the pain that comes with it. Gio's mother left a couple years ago, never wrote, never called, just disappeared. Just has he thinks he might be getting over her and starting to love himself in her absence, she shows up and he finds out that the lack of commun Thanks to The Coloured Pages for making this book available to me as part of the blog tour. I really loved this book because not only does it talk about the black experience, it focuses more on black joy, queer joy without neglecting or hiding the pain that comes with it. Gio's mother left a couple years ago, never wrote, never called, just disappeared. Just has he thinks he might be getting over her and starting to love himself in her absence, she shows up and he finds out that the lack of communication from her was not her fault but his father's. With that brewing in the background, we see Gio try to hide his bisexuality because his father is a pastor in their neighbourhood and he is convinced that Gio is going to hell. He tells Gio that it is one to have 'such desires' it is another to act on them. Like he has a choice. Bullsh*t Anyways Jay Coles does a great job exploring friendships, race, the poor education system in the United States, allyship, relationship, queer love, acceptance, family, and community. I would like to think of this book as a biracial love story because it was beautiful to read. Gio feels that with all that is happening in his life, the last thing he should be feeling his attraction to the new guy on the basketball team, David. David is everything that Gio likes and wants, he is also bisexual like Gio. we get to see the dynamics in their relationship, in terms of race, sexuality, sex, family and community. Friendship was another huge part of this book that I really liked and appreciated. Black friendship and solidarity is something I love seeing considering that I have a group of friends that are always there for me. We have similar experiences that makes it easier to empathise with each other. I highly recommend this book!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carli

    Thanks to Edelweiss and Scholastic for the advance Kindle copy of this book - it’s out TOMORROW! All opinions are my own. • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 for this heartfelt look at love, life, and family. Set in Indianapolis (yes!), it features Gio, a basketball player, brother, bisexual high school student. His mom left when he was a kid, and he hadn’t heard from her since. Around the time he starts hearing from her again, a cute new teammate moves in across the street from him. He is also dealing with a close fa Thanks to Edelweiss and Scholastic for the advance Kindle copy of this book - it’s out TOMORROW! All opinions are my own. • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 for this heartfelt look at love, life, and family. Set in Indianapolis (yes!), it features Gio, a basketball player, brother, bisexual high school student. His mom left when he was a kid, and he hadn’t heard from her since. Around the time he starts hearing from her again, a cute new teammate moves in across the street from him. He is also dealing with a close family friend’s illness, his pastor father’s drinking, and his own indecision about whether to see his mom. Highly recommend for realistic fiction fans in grades 9+.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cody Roecker

    Love love loved this

  22. 4 out of 5

    Grace W

    Review to come

  23. 5 out of 5

    Shenwei

    oof

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jypsy

    Thank you Scholastic and Pride Book Tours for a complimentary copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own. THINGS WE COULDN'T SAY By: Jay Coles REVIEW ☆☆☆☆ THINGS WE COULDN'T SAY by Jay Coles is a coming of age story, and the central character, Gio, has a tough time of it. Abandoned by his mother at the age of nine, Gio and his younger brother, Theo, were left in the care of an alcoholic father who, ironically, is also a preacher. Presently, living with his father, bro Thank you Scholastic and Pride Book Tours for a complimentary copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own. THINGS WE COULDN'T SAY By: Jay Coles REVIEW ☆☆☆☆ THINGS WE COULDN'T SAY by Jay Coles is a coming of age story, and the central character, Gio, has a tough time of it. Abandoned by his mother at the age of nine, Gio and his younger brother, Theo, were left in the care of an alcoholic father who, ironically, is also a preacher. Presently, living with his father, brother and stepmother, Gio does his best to survive daily without being swallowed by the hole his mother's leaving left. The deck is stacked against Gio as a black, queer teen, plus his father is not accepting. Fortunately, Gio has a couple of amazing friends and a strong bond with Theo. These ties will help Gio when something unexpected flips his world upside down. Throughout the story Gio grows in therapy sessions, and I am glad to see the use of therapy as something positive instead of as an activity with a hush hush taboo surrounding it. Gio makes choices for himself, and tries to accept and value himself as he is. Gio learns that forgiveness is not necessarily universal, and life goes on no matter what. THINGS WE COULDN'T SAY is not an easy kind of story and is filled with heavy relevant issues. The lessons learned are many. Additionally, sympathetic characters with diverse perspectives will stay with readers long after the last page.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Critter

    I loved this book. The characters are very well written and developed. The romance was fantastically written. I loved the messages and themes that are discussed in this book. The author delves into topics of racism, trauma, abandonment, biphobia and homophobia, and forgiveness. This is one of the few narratives that I have loved how it treats the topic of forgiveness and when someone is ready to heal from harms done to them. Forgiveness and healing are treated as two different things and we get I loved this book. The characters are very well written and developed. The romance was fantastically written. I loved the messages and themes that are discussed in this book. The author delves into topics of racism, trauma, abandonment, biphobia and homophobia, and forgiveness. This is one of the few narratives that I have loved how it treats the topic of forgiveness and when someone is ready to heal from harms done to them. Forgiveness and healing are treated as two different things and we get to see how Gio struggles a lot with his birth mother returning after she abandoned him and his brother. This book is heart wrenching and deeply emotional. It is a fantastic book. I would like to thank Scholastic Press for providing me with an ARC.

  26. 5 out of 5

    lyraand

    From Publishers Weekly: David Levithan at Scholastic has bought Things We Couldn't Say, a YA contemporary by Jay Coles (Tyler Johnson Was Here). High school junior Gio's hands are already full between school, family, friends, and a new boyfriend when his world is thrown off its axis by the return of the mother who abandoned him when he was nine. With his mother wanting to rebuild a relationship, he'll have to figure out which risks are worth taking and which hurts can be forgiven. Publication is From Publishers Weekly: David Levithan at Scholastic has bought Things We Couldn't Say, a YA contemporary by Jay Coles (Tyler Johnson Was Here). High school junior Gio's hands are already full between school, family, friends, and a new boyfriend when his world is thrown off its axis by the return of the mother who abandoned him when he was nine. With his mother wanting to rebuild a relationship, he'll have to figure out which risks are worth taking and which hurts can be forgiven. Publication is planned for fall 2021; Lauren Abramo at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret did the deal for North American rights.

  27. 5 out of 5

    ♡Ellie

    Life is tough, but it’s particularly tough when you’re a teenager. In this novel, we meet Gio, a young, Black, Bi teen our main character (yay!) who is on a journey to feel comfortable in his own skin, and his identity. Written through his point of view, which is so significant because it gives the reader a unique insight to his thoughts, and feelings. I love first person narrative! After Gio’s mom abandoned him and his family 8 years ago, there’s been a part of his life missing, a part of his li Life is tough, but it’s particularly tough when you’re a teenager. In this novel, we meet Gio, a young, Black, Bi teen our main character (yay!) who is on a journey to feel comfortable in his own skin, and his identity. Written through his point of view, which is so significant because it gives the reader a unique insight to his thoughts, and feelings. I love first person narrative! After Gio’s mom abandoned him and his family 8 years ago, there’s been a part of his life missing, a part of his life she took when she left, and he never quite came to terms with her departure, and then she returns into their life, but he’s not quite ready to forgive and forget. He wants to understand, and with the support of friends, and family Gio seeks answers, but is he ready to know the truth? During this important event, someone new moves in across the street, David. They quickly become friends, and Gio begins to feel something different for David. He wonders, does David feel the same? Such a wonderful story about love, friendship and family, written in a beautifully, and heartfelt manner that will stay with us for a long while. You’ll find there’s also more important topics within this book, that are so important to bring to YA novels, and equally important for us readers to read more about, and understand. Topics like racism, mental health, death, grief, among others. This cover is especially fitting, with “Gio” and the golden accents. I can’t wait to reread this one!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Diayll

    Originally Reviewed At: Mother/Gamer/Writer Rating: 4.5 Controllers Although this is my first Jay Coles novel, I’m sure it won’t be my last. I knew by the blurb I was going to fall head-over-heels for this book, and I wasn’t disappointed. Our main character, Gio, is struggling to heal and be free of the pain of his mother walking out, coming out as bisexual and being accepted by his father, and the mental health issues that come with growing up in a not-so-perfect world and accepting yourself. He Originally Reviewed At: Mother/Gamer/Writer Rating: 4.5 Controllers Although this is my first Jay Coles novel, I’m sure it won’t be my last. I knew by the blurb I was going to fall head-over-heels for this book, and I wasn’t disappointed. Our main character, Gio, is struggling to heal and be free of the pain of his mother walking out, coming out as bisexual and being accepted by his father, and the mental health issues that come with growing up in a not-so-perfect world and accepting yourself. He is a strong individual, but I felt his vulnerability as he described living in the hood and helping his younger brother, who has PTSD. I loved that Gio had two trusted friends with whom he could constantly confide and share his experience. It is encouraging to see our MC be so open about his feelings, and I can see this novel being very relatable to young readers/teens struggling with self-identity. There are so many quotable moments throughout, and it’s a novel I recommend to everyone, especially those who have lost someone and are looking for a reason to smile again. Thing’s We Couldn’t Say is a strong 4.5-⭐️ read for me, and I hope you will check it out!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stefanie

    The sheen on the court reflected the obnoxious fluorescent lights as he bounced the ball rhythmically on the ground. His sneakers squeaked as he advanced toward the hoop, defenders trying to block him from either side, but he pushed through and launched the ball into the air. It went in with a perfect swish and the crowd chanted his name. He grinned and turned quickly, ready to defend his net, and that’s when he made eye contact with a face in the crowd that he never thought he’d see again. Thing The sheen on the court reflected the obnoxious fluorescent lights as he bounced the ball rhythmically on the ground. His sneakers squeaked as he advanced toward the hoop, defenders trying to block him from either side, but he pushed through and launched the ball into the air. It went in with a perfect swish and the crowd chanted his name. He grinned and turned quickly, ready to defend his net, and that’s when he made eye contact with a face in the crowd that he never thought he’d see again. Things We Couldn’t Say was a powerful read as Gio (short for Giovanni) grapples with the overwhelming feelings of abandonment when his mother walked out on him years ago. On top of that pain he battles with the struggle of his own identity and the feelings of shame dropped onto his shoulders. A book that will leave your heart on the pages, bring you into a found family and teach you what family truly is, and give you a beautiful representation of bisexuality, Things We Couldn’t Say is a must read! TW: Racism/Racist Comments, Micro-Aggressions, Homophobia, Suicide (briefly mentioned), Abandonment, Death of a Loved One, Alcohol Abuse. *I received a gifted copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Chris G.

    Little brother Trevor doesn’t remember but Gio can clearly recall the day their mother left them with their father and never got back in touch. That rejection continues to torment Gio, leaving him uncertain that others can be trusted to love him. Step-mom and dad, a local pastor, are solid, but Gio worries about his dad’s drinking and how his dad will respond to Gio’s growing understanding of himself as bi. New neighbor and basketball teammate David is proving to be a good friend and possibly mo Little brother Trevor doesn’t remember but Gio can clearly recall the day their mother left them with their father and never got back in touch. That rejection continues to torment Gio, leaving him uncertain that others can be trusted to love him. Step-mom and dad, a local pastor, are solid, but Gio worries about his dad’s drinking and how his dad will respond to Gio’s growing understanding of himself as bi. New neighbor and basketball teammate David is proving to be a good friend and possibly more, but Gio worries about coming out to his teammates. When bio-mom comes back to town, wanting Gio to understand why she left, Gio has to re-assess all that he imagined of her motives and figure out how to respond. An urban coming of age story set in a realistic, complex community. EARC from Edelweiss.

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