*Note, while I will try to avoid major spoilers, I sometimes won't be able to help it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

“I Can't Tell You” by Hillary Frank

Could you function without speaking? Would you choose such a lifestyle? Jake, the main character in Hillary Frank's I Can't Tell You gives up speaking after an argument with his best friend and roommate. During the argument, Jake says things he regrets and decides it would be better if he took the time to choose his words, before using them. So he begins writing notes instead of speaking. The entire book is made up of these notes, found in notebooks, email, and upside down calculators.

When reading this, I can so easily put myself into Jake's shoes. It is obvious from the very beginning that Jake is in love with his friend Xandra, but she doesn't appear to return the feelings. They spend time together and could pass for a “couple” until Jake dares Xandra to prank call a number listed in the phone book as 'Man, Bat'. Xandra begins talking to the guy on the other end, and Jake is left to fill hours without his best friend.

This is not just a boy likes girl, boy loses girl type of story. We also get insight into Jake's family life and meet other friends in his dorm (these friends are very intrigued with the note writing and try to use it to their advantage to meet girls). In addition, it is sometimes up to the reader to figure out what is happening; if Jake is writing notes to someone who responds verbally, those responses are not recorded and it's up to the reader to figure out just what's happening in the situation.

I Can't Tell You in an unconventional read, but one I highly recommend to teens.  

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