August 25, 2015
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For as long as she can remember, Sarah’s family life has revolved around her twin sister, Annie—the pretty one, the social one, the girl who can do anything. The person everyone seems to wish Sarah—with her crippling shyness—could simply become.
When Annie suddenly chops off her hair, quits beauty pageants, and gains weight, the focus changes—Annie is still the star of the family, but for all the wrong reasons. Sarah knows something has happened, but she too is caught in her own spiral after her boyfriend breaks up with her and starts hanging out with one of Annie’s old friends.
Annie is intent on keeping her painful secret safe. But when she and Sarah start spending time together again for the first time in years, walls start to break on both sides … and words that had been left unsaid could change everything
For years, Sarah's family has seemingly revolved around Annie, their star. Now, with Annie no longer getting on stage, with her weight (purposely) increasing and her friends no longer coming over, they all seem lost.
Sarah wants them to figure things out. She wants to be able to tell their mother to stop haranguing Annie about her weight. She wants to know what to say to Annie. But her anxiety keeps her from giving voice to anything, to standing out in any way.
As much as the focus seems to be on Annie, her leaving pageants and popularity behind and her weight gain, Sarah's anxiety cannot be ignored. As she says, "I'm scared of being alone -- almost as much as I am of being with others." (pg 44) It's much more than being nervous to give a speech or in crowds. Sarah feels sick if she has to speak to a teacher or if it seems too many people are looking at her.
Her anxiety adds an interesting level to the story. It allows some of Annie and their mother's interactions to go unchecked, even when you'd expect someone to speak up -- even when Sarah wants to.
I am still not sure how I feel about their parents, their workaholic father and ignorant, image conscious mother. Part of me thinks they fit 'roles' too much and didn't seem like real parents and/or people. Another part, though, thinks that they were just horrible and unnoticing enough to feel real.
The ending felt a bit rushed (though at less than 300 pages of story and with so much story, made that's not unexpected. We know something along the lines of what happens, is coming. I was expecting something a bit different, based on things Annie said, but I think it was logical and fit.
Never Said isn't a novel that solves all of the characters' problems or gets them all fully to where they need to be. It introduces us to the characters and their troubles. It beings mending relationships and, perhaps, repairing some damages but they still have a ways to go and work to do.
thank you to the publisher for my review copy, via NetGalley