Things Left Unsaid: by Courtney Walsh
Contemporary Christian Romance
An emotional novel of family, friendship and forgiveness from Courtney Walsh, the New York Times bestselling author of Hometown Girl.
Lyndie St. James is thrilled that her best friend, Elle, is getting married but unprepared for the emotional storm of the wedding week and returning to her childhood summer home of Sweethaven. The idyllic cottage community harbors some of her best—and worst—memories. It’s not only the tragic death of her childhood friend Cassie that has haunted her for ten years, it’s the other secrets she’s buried that have kept her from moving on.
But Lyndie isn’t the only one with secrets.
Cassie’s mother, father and brother, still struggling with the loss, have been drifting further and further apart. And Elle herself, the last to see Cassie alive, carries an impossible burden of guilt. Now reunited, each of them has a choice: to reveal the truths of that night or continue to live in its shadow. That means embarking on a personal journey of the heart—to escape the darkness and all its regrets and to finally come to terms with the past and, especially, with each other.
This is an emotional story that touches on many aspects of the fallout of the death of a friend. Grief, abandonment, regret, shame, guilt, depression, apathy. It was thought-provoking, and raw at times, but written with tact.
This was my first Courtney Walsh novel, and though I prefer straight romance, this was beautifully written and thought provoking. I always appreciate authors who aren’t afraid to tackle raw, realistic life issues. This, to me, was a new twist on a trope that’s utilized a lot — returning to a hometown to take care of some kind of business only to run into your former love — but this was more than that trope. Lyndie in a sense, knew what she was walking into. She didn’t want to go at all, but some part of her knew she needed to.
I really loved Lyndie. Though I didn’t like who she was in the beginning — cold, indecisive, apathetic, I felt for her and I had high hopes for who she could become through this story. I wanted to see her heal. I liked Cassie’s brother too, and I enjoyed his journey of finding faith. It was these 2 characters who kept me reading. I think the other POVs threw me off, and though I enjoyed the other characters’ insights into Cassie’s death, I think they weren’t as deeply developed. I think, in my storytelling brain, each set of characters — Lyndie and Cassie’s brother, Cassie’s mom and dad, Ellie and her husband to be — could’ve all deserved their own story, their own reaction.
Though it was interesting to see the affects of one death on multiple lives, not just one life. Like a ripple, the aftermath of the loss of one life spread throughout the town, affecting the characters in different ways. Not one person experienced the grief of the loss of their friend in the same way as the other.