Things We Couldn't Say

Things We Couldn't Say

4.02 (140 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

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From one of the brightest and most acclaimed new lights in YA fiction, a fantastic new novel about a bi Black boy finding first love . . . and facing the return of the mother who abandoned his preacher family when he was nine.

There's always been a hole in Gio's life. Not because he's into both guys and girls. Not because his father has some drinking issues. Not because his friends are always bringing him their drama. No, the hole in Gio's life takes the shape of his birth mom, who left Gio, his brother, and his father when Gio was nine years old. For eight years, he never heard a word from her . . . and now, just as he's started to get his life together, she's back.

It's hard for Gio to know what to do. Can he forgive her like she wants to be forgiven? Or should he tell her she lost her chance to be in his life? Complicating things further, Gio's started to hang out with David, a new guy on the basketball team. Are they friends? More than friends? At first, Gio's not sure . . . especially because he's not sure what he wants from anyone right now.

There are no easy answers to love -- whether it's family love or friend love or romantic love. In Things We Couldn't Say, Jay Coles, acclaimed author of Tyler Johnson Was Here, shows us a guy trying to navigate love in all its ambiguity -- hoping at the other end he'll be able to figure out who is and who he should be.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 140 x 213 x 30mm | 295g
  • English
  • 1338734180
  • 9781338734188
  • 24,665

Review quote

Praise for Things We Couldn't Say:

I cannot even explain how excited I am about having a new Jay Coles book in my life. -- Buzzfeed

Jay Coles' new novel is a touching coming-of-age story about a bi Black teen navigating the treacherous waters of high school, sports, and first love -- just as his estranged mother returns from a years-long absence. -- Bustle

* A candid look at the deep-seated trauma left behind by an absent parent and the importance of found family, this is ultimately a warm, genuine read. A first choice for high school libraries and highly recommended for fans of Nic Stone. -- School Library Journal, starred review

An emotional coming-out, coming-of-age, and coming-to-terms story... A realistic depiction of challenging circumstances and first love. -- Kirkus Reviews

Sublime... Coles's beautifully written bildungsroman encompasses topics such as identity, grief, love, alcoholism, socioeconomics, depression, sexuality, family, race and racial injustices. It creates a safe space for queer Black boys to see themselves where they aren't always portrayed, while also offering a window and sliding glass door for readers who identify differently from Gio. As readers are invited into Gio's life, they watch him maneuver his age, race, sexuality in all their realms and learn how important it is for young adults to find an understanding of the self as well as a definition of what family and love really means... In this superbly written coming-of-age novel, a teenage boy struggles to stay afloat and be brave despite his world crumbling. -- Shelf Awareness

Gio's personal journey offers a welcome intersection of identities and experiences that is sweetened by the love shown him and the love that he learns to give. -- Booklist
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About Jay Coles

Jay Coles is a graduate of Vincennes University and Ball State University. When he's not writing diverse books, he's advocating for them, teaching middle school students, and composing for various music publishers. His debut novel Tyler Johnson Was Here is based on true events in his life and inspired by police brutality in America. He resides in Indianapolis, Indiana, and invites you to visit his website at
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Rating details

140 ratings
4.02 out of 5 stars
5 32% (45)
4 42% (59)
3 21% (30)
2 4% (6)
1 0% (0)
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