What’s Left Unsaid

Written by Emily Bleeker
Review by Trish MacEnulty

Just in time for the beach, this book has it all: a troubled heroine, a mystery based on a true story, romantic entanglements, and, underlying the plot, a substantial theme about sexual and racial oppression. Set in the Deep South, What’s Left Unsaid follows two stories: that of Hannah Williamson, a journalist who is addicted to her smartphone and to a man who dumped her for another woman, and Evelyn, a young girl in the 1920s, who is caught in a horrific Cinderella story, minus the glass slippers and Prince Charming.

Hannah winds up in Senatobia, Mississippi after three devastating losses: her father, her boyfriend, and her job at the Chicago Tribune. She ostensibly comes south to take care of her elderly grandmother, but really, she’s there to lick her wounds and spy on her ex-boyfriend via social media. To keep herself busy she takes a thankless job at the local paper, where she gets stuck archiving old articles. In the process she stumbles upon a series of letters that shake her world. The letters reveal the abuse suffered by a young girl at the hands of a cruel stepmother and a predatory older man. The story propels Hannah on a quest to learn the identity of the girl and discover her fate. However, a powerful family, desperate to keep certain secrets, stymies her at every opportunity. Fortunately, a handsome carpenter with “polite charm, a straight smile, and an electric wit” and his feisty daughter are willing to help.

With unexpected twists, a few harrowing adventures, and some thoroughly endearing characters, this book is a great read—a must-have for any beach bag.