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Reviewed by Lorraine Cobcroft for Readers' Favorite
A character-driven work of literary fiction, What Remains Unsaid by Audrey Kalman is a story about relationships… a revelation of what makes us who we are and how who we are impacts on the significant others in our lives. It opens with a dark and shocking scene, with Sean Masterton holding his mother, Ginny, hostage in her own kitchen. It then takes us on a journey that unveils Ginny’s darkest secrets, her relationships, her fears, and her feelings for her son. It takes us back to her childhood and youth, and into her marital home. It takes us into the homes and into the minds of the friends who influenced who she became. By exploring Ginny’s life and emotions, and the lives and thoughts of those who influenced the woman she became, it exposes how Sean became who he is.
Audrey Kalman says she didn’t set out to write a book about mental illness, but What Remains Unsaid touches on mental illness: the causes and the effects. An engrossing read, it is deeply thought-provoking. The characters are flawed, making them relatable. In the way of good novels, it drives readers to think about their own character and relationships, and to reflect deeply on what drives character development and human behavior. Kalman’s descriptions are original and vivid. She places us in scenes. She elicits strong emotional responses. She brings characters to life, compelling us to celebrate their wins, to feel their pains, and to forgive their foibles. I almost stopped reading after the first few pages, but by page 50, I was so deeply engrossed I struggled to put the book aside, even briefly. The ending was unsurprising in what took place, but unique and innovative in the way the conclusion to Sean’s story was exposed. Audrey Kalman’s is a name I shall add to my 'authors to look for' list. This story is not for the faint-hearted, but I love her work.