Review: Things I’ll Never Say by Cassandra Newbould

Things I'll Never Say by Cassandra Newbould

Things I’ll Never Say
Cassandra Newbould
Peachtree Teen
Published June 6, 2023

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Things I’ll Never Say

For fans of Becky Albertalli and Julie Murphy, this beautifully raw coming-of-age story follows bi, fat surfer girl Casey who turns to journaling to navigate what it means to crush on your two best friends at the same time.

Ten years ago, the Scar Squad promised each other nothing would tear them apart. They stuck together through thick and thin, late-night surf sessions and after school spodies. Even when Casey Jones Caruso lost her twin brother Sammy to an overdose, and their foursome became a threesome, the squad picked each other up. But when Casey’s feeling for the remaining members—Francesca and Benjamin—develop into romantic attraction, she worries the truth will dissolve them and vows to ignore her heart.

Then Ben kisses Casey at a summer party, and Frankie kisses another girl. Now Casey must confront all the complicated feelings she’s buried—for her friends and for her brother who she’s totally pissed at for dying. Since Sammy’s death, Casey has spilled all the things she can no longer say to him in journals, and now more than ever, she wishes he were here to help her decide whether she should guard her heart or bet it on love, before someone else makes the decision for her.

Things I'll Never Say on Goodreads

My Review

I have some really mixed feelings about this book. First, I think the way this book is written could serve as a conversation starter for some really big issues, such as recreational drug use. I love that the main character is plus-sized, and that she has so much love in her heart, for her brother, her family, and the other people she loves.

Honestly, though, I’m having a hard time deciding whether she’s a reliable narrator. I know that she claims to have this big plan to stop using opiates and Xanax to numb her pain. But she carefully controls the information, only ever telling people what she wants them to know. She breaks promises she makes to herself about her use.

All that makes perfect sense in terms of the behavior of someone who is struggling with addiction or drug use disorder. So I don’t say that to malign her character. I guess I just worry that though she claims the last thing she wants is to make the same decisions her brother made, she’s kinda doing exactly that?

Maybe that’s the whole point of the story. Maybe those are exactly the questions the author intends for readers to be asking.

At any rate, I read this book pretty quickly, and I think it raises some really good points and adds to some of the places where representation in young adult literature is still pretty small. I think readers who enjoy books by Crystal Maldonado should check this one out.

Things I'll Never Say on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Casey is plus-sized, bisexual, and a twin. She also has anxiety and has suffered from panic attacks before. Her twin brother died of an opiate overdose. Their family is Sicilian American. Frankie is Latine and a lesbian.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity and crude language used frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl. Kissing between two girls. Discussion about the meaning of a throuple and polyamorous relationships.

Spiritual Content
Casey writes letters to her brother in a journal and burns the journal at the end of the month. She believes/hopes the ashes of the words are carried to him and that way he knows what she wants to tell him. She wonders briefly about the afterlife and states she doesn’t not believe in God, but she doesn’t believe, either.

Violent Content

Drug Content
Casey and her friends drink alcohol, smoke pot, and drop acid. Casey also abuses pills like Xanax and opiates. She claims she has a plan to stop using but carefully controls the information about her drug use and breaks promises she makes to herself about discontinuing use.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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