Monday, January 11, 2021

Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey

It's the last days of the school year and Cassie McDowell can't wait for summer to begin. Because this summer she's going to make Gabriel her boyfriend. 

He's the best looking and sweetest guy in her school and she has a plan to make him hers. 

But the summer starts off with news that someone is abducting and abusing local boys. Not only that, but Cassie's got her own troubles at home. Troubles she longs to get away from. Which is why she decides she's going to investigate and solve the case of the abused boys. And when Gabriel becomes the next victim, she's more determined than ever to save the boy she loves. 

Readers have been praising Unspeakable Things for a while now and it's been in my TBR just as long. But I did know that the subject matter was not exactly rosy, so I delayed diving in...until I read the sample at the end of Bloodline! 

Unspeakable Things is set in and on the outskirts of Lilydale in 1983, the same town but almost two decades later than Bloodline

Cass and her family live on a farm in the country (that's what we would have called it growing up). Her mother is a teacher and her father is an artist. They're known for their parties, which both Cass and her sister, Sephie, loathe. And for good reason, though we don't find out the details until much later. 

Cass is superstitious and somewhat fearful. She spends her nights under her bed (when she wants to sleep long) or in her closet (when she wants to sleep short). And it's clear from the start that her home life isn't exactly a happy or safe one. 

But the 80's setting means that Cass and her friends kind of roam wild. She goes anywhere her bike will take her and has the freedom, outside of finishing household/farm chores, to spend her time pretty much as she likes. Perfect for some tweenage detecting!

As mentioned, this is not a light read. Nor is it a YA book even though our narrator is on the cusp of turning 13. There's a lot of heavy material squeezed into this book, made more disturbing by the fact that it's relayed via the eyes of someone who understands too much. 

This is the kind of book that so perfectly showcases a writer's talent and I think it's clear that Lourey is an immensely gifted author! Overall, this is the story of a child experiencing something she should never have had to face. It's a gripping story, one I read in one sitting (which I know is terrible to say when you consider how much sweat and effort goes into writing a book!) but I just could not tear myself away from Cass's story until I found out how it would all turn out.  

I do want to note that because of the content, this is definitely not a book for everyone, but I thought the subject in question, which is in fact based on a series of crimes that occurred when the author herself was young, was handled well without being gratuitous or overly graphic.

Order a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop!


Dianna said...

I saw this book and started to add it to my wishlist, but wasn't sure if I could stomach the storyline. I have a son and the thought of someone hurting him makes me physically ill. Didn't realize it's based on real events! Maybe I'll give it a try.

Becky LeJeune said...

It is very good, Dianna! I think she does a really good job with the most difficult stuff. It's a gut wrenching read, for sure, but I didn't find it gratuitous at all.