Author: Jessica Davidson
Everything Left Unsaid is Jessica Davidson’s second novel. Her first was What Does Blue Feel Like? and saw her named one of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Australian Novelists. I haven’t read the first novel but if Everything Left Unsaid is anything to go by I can certainly understand how she earned the honour.
I love a book that is aptly titled and Everything Left Unsaid certainly was. It was the things between the lines that were thought by the characters during and after conversations that really built the sense of understanding and helped you get into the story.
Jessica Davidson writes contemporary Australian teenagers, and she writes them well. She’s not afraid to address the tricky issues and paint her characters realistically.
Tai and Juliet are our protagonists and the story is told by both of them alternately, in the first person. I did at times get a little confused having two first person perspectives but you pick up the hang of it pretty quick as they have quite different voices. The other thing is you get to read the same event twice, once from each perspective; which I do think is necessary at times to completely convey the situation and allow you into each of their heads but it can be a bit repetitive.
Everything Left Unsaid is very Australian, in its language, location and events, which means that it easily allows you to involve yourself in the lives of these 16-17 year olds and be transported back to your own high school days. I love these characters and the things they get up to, Jessica Davidson has written them well and really imbued them with character.
Juliet and Tai met on their first day of kindy and have been best friends ever since, their memories of each other go back as far as they have memories and what they don’t remember their parents are more than happy to share. These two have been best of friends since they started school and here they are in their HSC year, getting ready to embark on an exciting new chapter and build their new lives on the cusp of adulthood.
Kindy to Year 12 – that’s a good chunk of your life, and Tai and Juliet spent all of it as best friends – never anything more. Until the party that changed all of that and the friendship evolved into the first true love for both of them but things don’t quite run to plan.
We travel with Tai and Juliet through that last year of high school and everything it brings for them, none of it what they expected or wished for. It seems we are there every step of the way, through all of the trials life has to throw at these young lovers who began the novel so vibrant and full of life.
The year is a tough one and there is only so much that a teen can take but this is bigger than them, bigger than their whole high school class, bigger than their families.
Every step of the way we travel with Tai through his ordeals and we hear what he’s thinking when it doesn’t match what he’s saying and it helps us to understand where he’s at that much better.
The same goes for Juliet, often there is more than just what she says and we hear that. And we hear what she’s not game to ask and not courageous enough to say. This gives us a complete picture of her even when she’s not showing it within the pages.
The families and other friends are all involved and integral to the story but we only get to see them through Tai and Juliet’s eyes. Everything changes and everyone changes, it’s only the degree that differs and this is one time that Tai’s younger brothers need to be brought into the whole situation.
I laughed, I cried and I cried some more. Jessica Davidson has written a beautiful book of life’s first love and love’s first loss.
Thank you Jessica Davidson for writing such a powerful novel.