Cover Image: What's Left Unsaid

What's Left Unsaid

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Member Reviews

Oh my. This was twisty and angsty. I caught myself a few times biting my nails. This was excellent. Plot was well thought out and well executed.
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What’s Left Unsaid by Emily Bleeker is a relationship drama as much as a mystery. Either way, it is a most engrossing read. Hannah’s life as she knows it has imploded in an unexpected fashion. She is a journalist with the Chicago Tribune, that is, before she is summarily released from her position. Because her grandmother has suffered a serious injury, Hannah moves to Senatobia, Mississippi to take care of her while she tries to get her life back together. In order to keep occupied, she gets a job at a small local newspaper. While doing clean-up work in its archives, she finds a series of letters written to the newspaper. The letters from the 1930s had never been published. Piecing the letters together, Hannah detects a story which should see the light of day, no matter how many locals wish to stop the publication. This novel has a varied cast of characters, some you will like more than others but all you will enjoy reading about. What’s Left Unsaid has it all: love, mysteries, secrets and a fascinating ending. This is the first Emily Bleeker book I have read and I look forward to reading more in the future. Highly recommended. Thank you to Lake Union Publishing, NetGalley and the author for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Maybe 3 and ½ Stars ?

A huge thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for my advanced copy of What's Left Unsaid.

This just might be the shortest review I've ever written.
This book was just ok for me.
It's not a bad book, it just won't stick with me for a long time.
I'd still give this author another try and I don't discourage anyone else from picking this book up.
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An interesting read with deep family secrets that bring painful reflections to the surface for Hannah the central character in this novel.

I loved the author’s portrayal of not only Hannah but all the characters. Each one had strengths & weaknesses & an important part in the storyline. 

While the story evolved a bit slowly for me at first… Hannah is trying to hide from her painful past yet still appears focused on returning to that past. Hurt, broken & barely mentally stable Hannah stumbles upon some information from the past that moves her to investigate.

Thus the story begins to unfold… deep family secrets that have been hidden for almost a century are brought to the surface. Some of the secrets others want kept that way & go to great lengths to protect them. Other characters become casualties along the way. No I can’t put the story down! Can Hannah be strong & move past her own emotional trauma
& bring these secrets to light??? Guess you will have to see for yourself!!! This was my first book from this author and definitely will not be my last. Her writing style is smooth & easy to follow. If you love a healing/self reflective type story with a major twist then I highly recommend this book for you!

Many thanks to #NetGalley, @emilybleekerauthor, #WhatsLeftUnsaid & Lake Union Publishing for the ARC. My review is strictly voluntary.
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“Sometimes one person’s mistakes set off a shock wave of devastation in the lives of those around them.”

In 2018 I read Bleeker’s book, When I’m Gone, and really enjoyed it! I finally got around to reading another one of her books.

Unfortunately, this was one didn’t hit the mark for me.

What’s Left Unsaid is similar to When I’m Gone in that both have a strong focus on letters— the latter to a husband from his deceased wife, the former found by a journalist about a dead woman’s rejected and published ‘story’ mailed to the newspaper office decades before.

I think When I’m Gone created more investment and emotional connection for the reader because of the intimate relationship between a husband and wife and it was a scenario that resonated with me.

What’s Left Unsaid created mystery, for sure— Evelyn (the letter writer) lets us know that she was shot in the chest and damage to her spinal cord has left her in a wheelchair. She wants her story known so she can reveal who the shooter was. She sends chunks of her story monthly so Hannah (the journalist) finds the various letters over a period of time and pieces it together.

So what made this book ‘meh’ for me?

I think some of it is because I found the main character, Hannah, unlikable. I think the author intentionally wrote her flawed— selfish and condescending yet broken and dealing with severe depression— to show character growth and shed light on the struggles of depression and how one views herself. (The Midnight Library does a better job exploring this concept.) But I had a hard time getting past her ‘woke-ness’ in her constant judging of the South and its people as she had just temporarily moved down from Chicago.

The author’s attempt to incorporate the discussion of systemic racism, privilege, the #metoo movement, and women’s independence overshadows the mystery and becomes the main driving factor in this book.

I think some people might appreciate and enjoy this combination. For me, I wasn’t expecting it and it got to be a bit much for me. I don’t personally know what the South is like, maybe this book portrays it accurately. But Hannah’s constant condescension and her going about her life without any regard of how her choices affect other people frustrated me.

Here are some snippets that shed some light on Hannah’s disposition:

“…awkward topics of conversation like she’d been born south of the Mason-Dixon Line.”

“Hannah almost understood how a homemaker’s life could bring moments of fulfillment.” (I really hope this doesn’t portray the author’s POV on homemakers… haha… man, us homemakers really hold out for those rare moments of fulfillment. What an existence.)

“‘I should get you home,’ he said, sounding a little too much like a southern gentleman making sure a vulnerable lady wasn’t out past dark to ‘protect her reputation.’”

“…since the poisonous effects of discrimination turned out to be everywhere, even if the symptoms looked different.”

Someone comments that it was hard to believe a picture was taken a hundred years ago and Hannah says: “Well, not exactly. Ninety years is more like it.” (This might have been an attempt at flirting but it’s more so pretentious.)

“‘Why does everyone hide from sad things down here?’”

“He stuttered again, going through a list he must’ve created inside his head but also seeming to find it difficult to stay angry at a tearful young woman. She should be offended, but she was grateful for the one time misogyny was working in her favor.”

Hannah’s selfishness also shows in her swearing all the time, even doing so when she knows others are bothered by it because she feels it’s her job to ‘free’ them from their beliefs or she thinks it’s funny for others to feel ‘scandalized.’

Hannah tells a lot of ‘jokes’ in this book but Bleeker always comments about it instead of letting the humor stand on its own. She makes sure to include if others laughed at her joke or if Hannah rolls her eyes at her own joke or if Hannah thinks internally about her jokes. Plus the jokes really aren’t that funny and her sarcasm isn’t very clever.

There is a whole segment about her morbidly coming up with ‘good’ names for a crime documentary about her own death and none of them are original.

The whole premise of the letters was a bit odd. I’m not sure why Evelyn wanted to break up her story so much and think that the newspaper would publish segments of it without knowing the full story right off the bat. And every time Hannah reads the letters she applies every detail to her own life. This ends up being significant but I was kinda annoyed because I would have rather heard more from Evelyn than from Hannah.

I know most of my comments have been negative. I don’t think it’s a bad book. I think it just didn’t do much for me. I think there are a lot of readers who will enjoy this book. If you can get past the character flaws and be able to appreciate the growth and the woke-ness, the mystery and the ending are at least satisfactory and keep it interesting.

And if you really like books about journalists finding old letters in newspaper offices, check out Jojo Moyes book, The Last Letter from Your Lover. (I also didn’t like this one though…)

P.S. It’s not just a Southern thing to call it P.E. instead of Gym. I’m from Iowa and we called it P.E. I feel like ‘Gym’ is just for the coasts? Plus Chicago? What do YOU call it everyone???
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This was my first read from Emily Bleeker and I went into it without any knowledge of the story or her writing style.

I really enjoyed her storytelling, with an easy-to-follow style that keeps the reader moving along with her.

The storyline itself was not the most shocking in terms of twist, and I guessed what would happen fairly early on, however an enjoyable read from an author I will lookout for more from.

Thank you to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for a copy of the ARC in return for my honest review.
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Beautiful story set in the south.Story is told by Hannah who is recovering from a bad break up,depression and suicide attempt. She moves from Chicago to Mississippi to help care for her grandmother "Meemaw" during her recuperation after her bad fall and fractures. While working at the small local newspaper, Hannah reads an old letter to the editor from a young 14 year old girl who was shot and paralyzed back in the 30's by a gunshot. Story told thru duel timelines by Hannah as she hunts for more letters  and by Evelyn thru the letters to the editor she wrote. Lots of powerful themes and very thought provoking. Would be a great book club pick
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Favorite Quotes:

My mama always said that you need to let people have whatever fiction makes their life tolerable. And I agree. There’s no use in churning up the past.

This man could make her feel like this— like a shook-up bottle of pop or the time she’d put regular dish soap in the dishwasher in her first apartment instead of dish detergent and the kitchen had flooded with suds.

No one from her father’s family had ever said the word depression or suicide—Mamaw’s tolerable fiction was an accident while Sam was cleaning his firearm, but accidents didn’t usually come with a goodbye note.

He moved out immediately, ignored her calls and texts, and fell into a new life without her like in his life story she was written in pencil and he’d decided to make revisions.

Her accent was thick like it was an elixir she’d swallowed whole and it was coating her throat and mouth.

My Review:

This was my introduction to the wily craft of Emily Bleeker so I had no idea that I was stepping into a book tornado, as fact - her storylines tossed me around but good.  The feels were going in every direction but my heart was battered and bruised by her poignant threads concerning Evelyn.  It wasn’t until after I had finished reading that I learned the book was a mixture of fact and fiction and Evelyn’s half was not only based on fact, it packed an even more powerful punch as it was close to home.  

At various times while reading, my palm itched to give the main character of Hannah more than a few pops to the back of the head for being so tiresome and self-involved; but depression does that, a condition the author truly captured well.  Hannah was deeply and realistically flawed, childish, and often annoying, yet her tale was intriguing and I had a hard time not being snappish when my perusal was interrupted.  

All of Ms. Bleeker’s characters were well-contrived and held my interest and curiosity.  I enjoyed the colorful descriptions and snarky inner musings as Northern Hannah arrogantly appraised those around her in her new transplanted environment of Mississippi while staying with her paternal grandmother.  Yet her superior attitude had a false bottom as even if her current position at a small newspaper was beneath her, she also knew it was the only one that would currently have her and she was in danger of losing it with her continual cock-ups.  

The writing was perceptively observant and hit upon various social issues old and new, as some problems such as abuse of power and privilege and racism are deeply rooted and most likely will never go away and have unfortunately been resurrected to be far worse than a mere five years ago.
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I've enjoyed Emily Bleeker before and was eager to read this one. But I felt for a long time that it dragged , was having a tough time sticking with it and was planning to give it a negative review.  Then, suddenly, the story picked up halfway through.  By the time I got to 75% through, I couldn't put it down!  I think the parts about racism fascinated me more than the back story that was pretty much the theme, however.  It makes one ashamed to be an American when learning more about how "colored people" were regarded (and may still be in some areas). There is some language if that bothers you but not as flagrant in so many book that I read nowadays.
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An absorbing story of secrets, history, racism and love. I will be searching for more of this author’s work.  
Many thanks to Lake Union Publishing and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Wasn't impressed with the writing or the storyline.  This book was not for me.  Appeared amateur and not developed fully.  I gave it 100 pages and ended up DNF'ing.  Although several readers had left positive feedback, this was not the book for me.
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I loved this book. Well written story about a Chicago journalist feeling she has lost everything, goes to Mississippi to stay with her spunky 91 yearold grandmother.   So much more involved than that, but I don't  want to give away the story! I loved the flavorful characters that made me think of the relations I had Down South.
5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and the Author and publisher for a copy of this book. The opinions expressed are my own.
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Having heard a lot of good things about the writing of Emily Bleeker, I was very excited to read this book.

It took a bit of time to get into the story as I was on the fence about Hannah - I didn't feel any connection to her and found her a bit abrasive. As her friendship with Guy (& Rosie) deepened, she started to become more aware of how her actions impacted everyone around her. I loved Guy's story of the magnolia tree and the fence and I think he was a brilliant character to bring into Hannah's world - to open it up and bring her understanding.
Mamaw was also an interesting side character, a bit "flat" in the beginning, but I warmed to her in the end.

The author's note brought goosebumps to my skin. Love books based on a true story.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for allowing me the chance to read this book.
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Emily Bleeker’s WHAT’S LEFT UNSAID is a fascinating and thought-provoking novel with a protagonist that is imperfect and full of flaws. Once I started reading, I was drawn into Hannah’s life and her desire to find out what happened with Evelyn.
Hannah was on top of the world, personally and professionally. Or so she thought. She catches her long-time boyfriend cheating and he moves out and on, beginning her spiral. Then she loses her job at the Chicago Tribune, and her dad, the only person she felt she could count on. With the spiral continuing, her mother decides she needs a change of scenery and sends Hannah to a small town in Mississippi help her grandmother who’s recovering from a fall. She finds a job at the local weekly, definitely a step down, and is struggling daily. It seems worse when she’s assigned the task of archiving all of the old articles in the newspaper’s basement, but then she finds articles from the 1930’s that were rejected but she becomes wrapped up in the story, slowly finding purpose in her life and finding people to care about, including Guy, but she has a long way to go to get past her own troubles and perceptions. 
This novel has so many layers from Hannah to Evelyn to Guy and their experiences, as well as those of Hannah’s Grandmother. I enjoyed taking the journey with Hannah, worrying over her every step of the way. There were twists and threads that Bleeker masterfully wove together and lead us to a satisfying conclusion though I hated to see it end. 
Thanks to the publisher for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of the novel. All opinions are my own and freely given.
#WhatsLeftUnsaid #EmilyBleeker #LakeUnionPublishing
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This one just isn’t working for me, I cannot stand Hannah and her obsession with her ex. I appreciate the nod to mental health, but this feels like a caricature.
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Emily Bleeker has not written a novel that I haven’t fallen in love with. Each one is quite different, but always enthralling. This novel has been the same. I read overnight because I could not put the book down no matter what I tried. 

The theme of this novel is quite interesting. A journalist who was overcome by several negative events in her life who was also being treated for depression, feels like she can’t go on anymore. The results of all kinds of events have lead her to feel this way. When she decides to help her grandmother who has been injured she feels that starting over might do her good. What she latter learns is your problems follow you wherever you go. Follow Hannah Williamson’s journey from Chicago to Mississippi. You won’t be disappointed and may learn a few things on the way. 

Rating: 4.8

** I read an advanced copy of this novel. All options and thoughts in the review are mine.
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Hannah is a journalist trying to recover from some difficult losses by moving to small town Mississippi to take care of her grandmother. She gets a job at a local paper where a series of rejected articles written by a young woman named Evelyn in the 1930s grab her attention and she becomes determined to solve the mystery behind them.

The two narratives - Hannah's today and Evelyn's from the past - are compelling but I found Hannah somewhat unlikable and her choices were often frustrating. Bleeker covers quite a few social issues in the novel - racism, sexism, sexual assault, mental health and more - and while some worked well within the confines of the story, others sometimes felt forced. I kept with it to see how Evelyn's story would resolve and while I guessed the twist at the end, it was a satisfying way to tie up the two storylines. 

The author's note explained that Evelyn was based on a real person which might explain why she was the character that I felt most connected to, and also makes her storyline that much more heartbreaking.  

Thanks to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for a copy to review.
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Oh God... I don't really like it. I was trying really hard to find myself into it, but no. Not the right time, not the right book.

It's hard to say what this book is really about. Secrets? The fact that every family has something to hide and lef unsaid? About the relationships? Starting over? Maybe, cause in here we have a little bit of everything, but nothing in lead.

This book is predictable. Especially the final scenes are so obvious. I don't like and understand the decions of Hannah. She is naive, lost and running away from her life. She is trying to impove, do something more, but she is creating a huge mess and her actions are harmful and totally unecessary. I don't buy it, I don't feel it.

It's my first book of Emily so I don't have a background to talk about her writing, but so far, I'm not gonna buy any other books of her - there are so many awesome books to discover than focusing on these only "average".
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I really wanted to enjoy this one more but it didn’t hold my attention. If your genre preference is contemporary/historical fiction then I would suggest you give it a try for yourself.
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Enjoyed it, but it wasn't my favorite book by the author. The story was interesting, but I just couldn't stand Hannah. I don't understand how every guy that crossed paths with her (except for Monty) seemed to be instantly enthralled with her. She didn't have a winning personality, was rude most of the time and was always self righteous. Hannah didn't grow up in the South but expected everyone there to live a certain way and gave her opinion about everything. She even made Mamaw cry. Mamaw was the sweetest woman and was kind to everyone. I hated how Hannah couldn't let go of Alex. It was ridiculous. He was a horrible boyfriend and his actions were unforgiveable but of course, Hannah wanted him back. Hannah had a tendency to use people to get what she wanted. Everyone was always so eager to help her. I couldn't wait to find out Evelyn's complete story. It wasn't what I expected, especailly when the truth was finally revealed.

Definitely recommend giving the book a try. I loved the author's previous books and look forward to reading more.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Lake Union Publishing through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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