Title: Never Said
Author: Carol Lynch Williams
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Number of Pages: 256
In Annie and Sarah’s family, Annie is the ‘perfect’ daughter- a popular, gorgeous beauty queen. Sarah, saddled with anxiety and inferior looks, constantly feels overlooked by her awful, status-obsessed parents. Then something changes with Annie- she stops caring about ribbons and praise anymore and starts gaining weight.
Her parents mistreat her without making any effort to figure out what’s wrong, but Sarah senses her pain and begins to get closer to her. As you can probably imagine, this book involves sexual assault and it’s devastating effect on a formerly gregarious teenage girl. Even though Carol Lynch Williams’ simple, quickly paced writing style is readable as ever and there is some suspense as the reader waits to find out exactly what happened to Annie, this is definitely one of her weaker books.
I didn’t particularly like any of the main characters; they weren’t bad people and their love for each other is clear but I found myself being bored by their voices and the somewhat cliched set-up. What’s with all the gorgeous girls in fiction with dowdy sisters- and why don’t we get more studly male characters with nerdy inadequate brothers?
I also didn’t like how Annie was clearly written as going from a mean popular girl to a more caring, grounded person as a result of her sexual assault. It felt lazy and irresponsible to use sexual violence as a positive character arc. The parents were also absolute trash human beings and I didn’t buy the author’s attempts to redeem them in the last act.
If she had let the parents stay terrible people stuck in their own self-involved world the book would have been a lot more believable. Not everybody needs a character arc, even if it makes for a happier ending. This wasn’t a terrible book and the format was interesting (Sarah’s chapters in prose, Annie’s chapters in verse) but as short as it was I had to push myself to get through it at times.