Yet another book that goes to show that UKYA is the champion when it comes to inclusion and diversity, Unspeakable is a brilliant little character driven thriller with some excellent stand out twists and a gripping plot.
Megan is mute. She hasn’t spoken a single word aloud in months. Not since her best friend went away. It’s a hard way to make it through school and life, but it has to be this way. Megan has secrets, and if she doesn’t talk, no-one will ever know what those secrets are. When the beautiful, exuberant Jasmine starts school, Megan fully expects her to be yet another of the stupid morons in her class who tease her relentlessly, but she’s wrong – Jasmine finds the silent Megan fascinating and becomes determined to become her best friend. After all, Jasmine talks enough for the two of them. Abby soon finds herself becoming infatuated with Jasmine, and she finds herself longing to speak out loud again. But what if the things she’s tried so hard to hide come out with the words she longs to say?
Unspeakable is a tight, twisting and slow burning mystery, with an incredibly sweet, tortured narrator in the silent Megan. She’s wonderfully complex, bubbling with emotions and guilt, all expressed through her thoughts and actions. By taking away her dialogue, Abbie has a brilliant opportunity to really look at what makes her tick as a character. Her fierce loyalty and stoic determination are wonderfully written, although her behaviour can also be so stubborn it becomes annoying – not in a bad way, it’s the sign of a rounded character. Jasmine is bubbly and an excellent chatty and passionate counter to Megan’s quiet contemplation, and her vibrant family life also helps to make her completely stand opposite of Megan, making their relationship feel so chaotic and exciting. Megan and Jasmine’s mothers are both great opposites from each other as well, one dour and struggling, the other passionate and vivid, and Luke is a complex character too, his emotions shifting and churning constantly.
It’s so rare to find a gay girl couple in fiction, even YA. Even less so for the girls to be the main characters, and it makes such a huge impact, but at the same time of course, reads just like any straight relationship would! It shifts the dynamic of Unspeakable, having the plot be so beautifully driven by relationships between women – not just Megan and Jasmine, but also between Megan and her Mother, and her absent best friend Hana. The emotional weight of the story is what really gives it the force and momentum that pushes it forward from mundane every day to twisting, unexpected shifts. There’s a darkness that lurks underneath each page, no matter how bright the scenes might be, and that darkness starts to ooze through with more and more urgency as the story reaches its conclusion. It’s a fun read, with great, rounded characters and a sweet romantic subplot. And that isn’t something you’ll hear me say often.
Thanks for reading, always.