Everything I’ve Never Said (Samantha Wheeler, UQP)
Everything I’ve Never Said is a middle-grade novel that gently explores disability in young people and how it impacts families. Ava has Rett Syndrome and has spent 11 years of her life unable to communicate. Although she hears, sees and understands everything that is happening around her, her body prevents her from responding. More than anything, she longs to express how she feels and who she is in a way her family can understand. Telling the story through Ava’s experience gives the reader a firsthand account of living with disability, breaking down preconceived ideas to create understanding. The characters in the story are all relatable, especially Ava, who, though frustrated by her inability to communicate, brings warmth and humour to the narrative. This is a powerful novel that explores a rarely addressed topic in books for this age group. In the vein of Geoff Havel’s Dropping In, Wheeler has opened up the conversation around disability. This will be an enjoyable read, suitable for readers aged 10 years old and over, with a broad appeal for teens and adults.
M H Alessandrino is a Perth based writer and freelance reviewer