By Kristina Riggle, William Morrow, 352 pages

“I gasped. He must have thought it was delight and surprise. It was more like a falling dream; a sickening plunge. A stepmother? Me? I thought of myself drunk at the bottom of a stairwell or puking my guts out in a smelly bar bathroom. This wasn’t the girl he wanted to marry. He never met that girl, never knew she existed. It was me he wanted. The new me…”

The Things We Didn’t Say by Kristina Riggle is a novel that illustrates the everyday issues of many families. Casey is engaged to a widower, Michael, who has three children and a crazy ex-wife. She has moved in with him and is now grappling with her role as a soon to be step-mother, while trying not to engage in battles with Mallory, the ex-wife, who is in denial regarding her addiction issues. The tension rises when one of the children goes missing. The police are called and an investigation ensues to find the missing son, Dylan. Now, Michael, Casey, Mallory and the other two kids are in the same house with emotions and blame running amok.

Each chapter of the novel is told in first person from a specific character’s perspective. As the reader is taken through the book, they receive insight to each individual character. Casey, the primary protagonist is dealing with her own insecurities regarding her past, which Michael, her fiancé doesn’t know about.

The oldest daughter has read Casey’s journal and is planning to twist the information for her own motive of getting her parents back together.

Michael, the fiancé and father is being pulled in a variety of directions and needs to make decisions regarding his career and his relationship with Casey.

This reviewer was intrigued with the mystery of the child going missing but disappointed with the resolution of that plot line. The novel ends in an unexpected, yet realistic and satisfying way that provides resolution for the characters and the reader.

Jina Oravetz