1 July 2013

Book Review: Things We Never Say by Sheila O'Flanagan

"Abbey Andersen is the last person to go looking for change. Yes, it's tough that she barely sees her mother these days - but in San Francisco she has great friends, a steady relationship and a job she enjoys. When Abbey is contacted by Irish lawyer Ryan Gilligan she learns in an instant everything she believed about her roots is a lie. She must travel to Dublin to find out more - but she's scarcely off the plane when she's plunged into a new crisis. One that will change everything not just for Abbey but for the family in Ireland who had no idea that she even existed. Now Abbey has to make a choice that will affect everyone she knows. How can she be sure she makes the right one? And can life ever be quite the same again?"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy Things We Never Say as a hardback or an eBook.

I have to say I was really curious about the idea of Sheila O'Flanagan's new book Things We Never Say. The blurb didn't give too much away and I was curious to find out exactly what happened with Abbey and her family. As usual, I like the cover for the book, but I have to say I find it a little bland and a bit unrelated to the story which is a shame - a book cover is really important for me, and I prefer something a little brighter and bolder, but that's just me. The book is a rather large hardback, but as always, Sheila had me whizzing through the pages, engrossed in the story and eager to find out what was going to happen next. Here's why you should read Things We Never Say.

Abbey Andersen is happy living in San Francisco, she's got a great job as a nail artist, has good friends, and although she doesn't see her mother anywhere near enough, she's happy that she is in a good place too. When Abbey finds out everything she thought about herself is slightly different to what she's always believed, she's shocked and heads to Ireland to find out more about her new family. Something shocking soon happens, and leaves Abbey in a quandry and she doesn't know what to do. She can't quickly turn to her mother, so asks Irish lawyer Ryan, who seems to be a nice guy, what to do with her tough decision she has to make, knowing it's more than just her who will be affected by the outcome...

I have to say I really liked Abbey from the beginning. She's an easy to like character, someone who seems to fade into the background of life, but she's happy with her lot. She's a talented artist, but has never quite managed to make it in that career, instead loving her work as a nail artist, making other women happy with themselves while struggling to find that happiness for herself. I did find her a little weak at times, especially relating to male relationships in the book, but other than that, there really wasn't anything I disliked about her. We follow her for pretty much all of the book, so it's important that readers warm to her and care about the outcome for her life. The things that happen for Abbey are really surprising, and I enjoyed the twists and tales of the story as things progressed for Abbey. Her relationship with her mother's ex-boyfriend Pete was touching too, and it was a positive relationship. Abbey's mother was a complete mystery, and I was guessing all the way along what was happening with her, but I was pleasantly surprised to see I was totally wrong! Their relationship, though, was very touching and I enjoyed their closeness despite their distance from each other.

The Fitzpatrick family were certainly interesting characters, if intensely dislikeable at times too. The male Fitzpatrick's were quite unbearable actually, and I really wanted their respective wives to give them a bit of kick into reality, they were just living in cloud cuckoo land! Suzanne, the Fitzpatrick daughter is the only remotely likeable one, but is still as money-obsessed as her awful brothers - it's quite sad actually that they all only cared about the money in the end and nothing else. I found the information about the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland very intriguing, it's not something I've heard much about before but it certainly brings to forefront of your mind how views on things such as teenage pregnancy have changed dramatically over the years, and I thought it was a fascinating subject for Sheila to cover in her story, and the way it was woven in to the book was cleverly done.

The action is split between Ireland and San Francisco, and I enjoyed Abbey discovering Ireland through a foreigner's point of view, highlighting the beautiful parts of the country, the friendliness of people and of course, the Irish weather, and I liked having an American main character for a bit of a change too. Things We Never Say was a really interesting book, and had lots of twists along the way that kept me intrigued, especially the mystery involving Abbey's mum, and the eventual outcome, which I have to say I was initially displeased with but soon grew to accept it! With an interesting cast of characters who will certainly evoke emotion in a reader, Things We Never Say is a very readable book, and I'm sure fans of Sheila's books will love it. It's a family drama, highlighting not a perfect family, but in fact some of the worst aspects of family, and how money really can be the root of all evil. It's a long book, but worth the investment for such an enjoyable story.

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