Thursday, July 7, 2011

'Things We Didn't Say' by Kristina Riggle

Synopsis from TLC:

What makes up a family? For Casey it’s sharing a house with her fiancé, Michael, and his three children, whom she intends to nurture more than she ever took care of herself. But Casey’s plans have come undone. Michael’s silences have grown unfathomable and deep. His daughter Angel seethes as only a teenage girl can, while the wide-eyed youngest, Jewel, quietly takes it all in.
Then Michael’s son, Dylan, runs off, and the kids’ mother, a woman never afraid to say what she thinks, noisily barges into the home. That’s when Casey decides that the silences can no longer continue. She must begin speaking the words no one else can say. She’ll have to dig up secrets—including her own—uncovering the hurts, and begin the healing.

First Thought after finishing this book: Life is such a messy thing isn't it?

What I liked about this story:

  • The different POV's that Riggle presented. Each character was able to really come to life because the reader was able to read their thoughts first hand. I think this made the story work for me because I enjoyed getting to know each one a bit better and to learn what made them tick.
  • The younger characters Dylan, Angel, and Jewel. They actually had a lot more common sense than the adults and really put into perspective the effects divorce and blended families have on the children.
  • The father being portrayed as the caregiver for the children and doing ANYTHING to keep them safe from their off-balanced mother. It was quite refreshing to see a dad portrayed in a more positive light!
  • Michigan author and Michigan locations- love that!!!!!!
What I didn't like about this story:
  • The overwhelming weakness of each of the adult characters. Not one of them had a bit of common sense about them and that drove me crazy!!! I thought Casey was a wimp frankly and really needed to take charge of her life. Michael was a pushover when it came to his ex-wife. Even though I think he was a great dad trying hard to keep it altogether, he caved way too often to his ex-wife and her whining!! Mallory, the ex-wife, just drove me crazy with her neediness and her continual blame game. 
Personal Thoughts:
While reading this book I was instantly reminded of what my brother went through when his first marriage ended. He was the one who stayed in the home and kept his girls. He was the one that made sure that they ate, did their homework, chores, and tucked them into bed. He was the one that was there for the tears, the sadness, and the bad days. He's remarried and with the help of his wife they have blended their two families into a seamless unit. He is the type of Dad to be applauded but gets very little accolades for his role as the main parent. Thanks to this book we may see more stories that portray fathers in a much better light!

Recommend? I absolutely would recommend this book to friends. This a chaotic family story and that's what really happens in real lifecrazy people, impetuous teenagers, scared children, hurt feelings, secrets, and that fear of someone knowing the real you and deciding you're not good enough to be loved. 

Rating: 8/10

Published: June 28, 2011
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Family Fiction
Source: William Morrow and TLC
Pages: 332
ISNB: 9780062003041

About Kristina Riggle

Kristina Riggle lives and writes in West Michigan. Besides her debut novel, Real Life & Liars, she has published short stories in the Cimarron ReviewLiterary MamaEspresso Fiction, and elsewhere. She is also a freelance journalist writing primarily for The Grand Rapids Press, and coeditor for fiction at Literary Mama. Kristina was a full-time newspaper reporter for seven years before turning her attention to creative writing and freelancing. As well as writing, she enjoys spending lots of time with her husband, two kids, and dog.
Real Life & Liars is set in Charlevoix, Michigan, a town close to Kristina’s heart as the home of her grandparents where she has visited often over the years. Some recognizable Charlevoix landmarks appear in the novel, as well as fictionalized versions of real places. The home of the Zielinski family on Dixon Avenue is based loosely on the house where her grandmother grew up.
Visit Kristina at her website and like her on Facebook.
Disclaimer:Thank you to TLC Book Tours for sending me a review copy. I was not compensated for my review. My thoughts on this book were in no way influenced by the author or publicist.They are my personal reflections based solely on MYexperience while reading this novel.

© 2011, Staci of Life in the Thumb. All Rights Reserved. If you reading this on a site other than, Life in the Thumb or Staci's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. I know which brother and sister in law you are talking about *wink* ... I think this sounds pretty good! And I too like it when the Dad is made the hero! YAY! :):):):):):):):):):):):):)

  2. This sounds like a great story -- I love books told from multiple points of view (when it's done well).

    By the way, your synopsis cuts off!

    Thanks for sharing your personal thoughts on this one!

  3. I do love stories with dysfunction. I hadn't heard of this one, so I'm glad to hear about it through you and that you liked it.

  4. Sounds like a good story. I love family drama!

    I was also raised by my dad so it would be interesting to see how I connect to parts of this story.

  5. Sounds like a good book, but a bit tough to read with those adult characters.

  6. I read The Life You Imagined by the same author and really enjoyed the way she presented the different points of view. This book sounds like another winner!

  7. You have read such interesting fiction books lately. I really should try to read one

  8. Ugh, I hate the adults, just from your review! :--)

  9. I got this book a couple days ago. I can't wait to find the time to read it! I always love the way Kristina uses different points-of-view in her books.

  10. Your brother is a tough cookie for sure. God bless him.

    As to your fab review, I will pass because I deal with enough weak and idiotic adults at work. I don't want to read about them too :)

  11. This sounds really good. I love domestic tension if it's done well.

  12. I really like your review style... It gets everything out there in the open. Perfect for me who is always hopelessly behind on blog reading!

  13. This is the second review I have read for this book today. It does sound interesting with the different Point of views. I have added it to my tbr list. It is refreshing to see a father depicted in a positive light.

  14. I like messy but the adults look like they might drive me crazy. Big kudos to your brother for stepping up!

  15. I agree--life can be messy.

  16. Messy is what came to mind to me as well! Glad you enjoyed this one as much as I did. My daughter used to live in the area that this book takes place in and I loved that!

  17. I like the way you linked the story with your brother. He is to be applauded.

  18. Absolutely fantastic!
    Thanks, I truly enjoyed the visit. ;)

  19. "we may see more stories that portray fathers in a much better light" - we can certainly hope that that is the case!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one and that it had a special meaning for you in relation to your brother.

  20. That sounds like a good book! I added it to my Goodreads list. That is cool that the author is from Michigan!

  21. I just finished this, as well, and loved it. As a kid of divorce and remarriage, it isn't always this hectic but many of the emotions are still there. Thanks for this amazing review.

  22. Hmmm. The Michigan setting is a draw, but I think I'll stick with your 9s and 10s.

  23. This is another one I really want to make time for. Kudos to your brother. I have the utmost respect for fathers who step up like that and they should get the same credit for it that a single mom does.

  24. You had me at the synopsis.
    I know a lot of good dads out there. It is good to see them portrayed more positively. They don't often get enough credit.



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