The Things We Cannot Say-Kelly Rimmer | Summary, Themes & Synopsis

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TitleThe Things We Cannot Say
AuthorKelly Rimmer
Publication Date26 February 2019
GenreHistorical Fiction
PublisherGraydon House
Page Count432 pages
ISBN9781472247315, 9781472247315 

The Things We Cannot Say Characters

Alice – Modern woman struggling with her own marriage as well as the challenges of raising a child with special needs. Her pursuit of the truth about her grandmother’s World War II experiences develops into an obsession.

Alina – Alina lived through World War II in Nazi-occupied Poland. She joins the clandestine resistance group while in a relationship with one of its members, risking her own life to protect others.

Tomasz – Alina’s fiance and a member of the resistance group. He is dedicated to fighting the Nazis and protecting the locals in his village.

Hanna – Grandmother of Alice and Alina’s child. Her whole life has been devoted to keeping her mother’s secrets hidden and protecting her family from the pain of the past.

Eddie – Alice’s husband struggling with his personal problems in addition to the challenges of being a stay-at-home father to their child.

The Things We Cannot Say Themes

Love – Two interconnected love stories are depicted in the book. The first is the tale of Alina and Tomasz’s love affair during the Second World War. The second is the modern-day romance between Alice and Wade. throughout spite of all odds and adversity, love has the ability to unite people. This is seen throughout the book.

Sacrifice – The characters in the book are willing to make sacrifices for the ones they care about. Alice makes sacrifices to care for her grandmother and her autistic son, while Alina and Tomasz risk their lives during World War II to aid the resistance.

Family – The effect of family history on the present is discussed, as well as the interactions between family members. Alice learns about her grandmother’s background and unearths family secrets that alter her perception of them.

Secrets – There are several, both large and minor, secrets throughout the book. The characters withhold some things from one another, some of which have significant repercussions.

Power of storytelling – The book highlights the value of storytelling as a means of preserving memories and transmitting family history. Alice uses storytelling to bond with her kid and learn about her family’s history, while Alina sends letters to Tomasz to maintain their love.

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The Things We Cannot Say Summary

It is 1939. Alina Dziak grew up on a poor family farm in the little town of Trzebinia in southern Poland, knowing in her heart that she would marry Tomasz Slaski, a town kid who desired to be a doctor. Tomasz assures Alina that when he returns from studying medicine in Warsaw, they would begin their life together. The Nazis overrun Poland within weeks of his departure.

The Nazi troops deployed in Trzebinia steal farms & produce, leaving Alina’s family impoverished. Alina never gives up hope that Tomasz will return during the challenging early months of the occupation. When he does return, he informs her that when the Nazis took control over Warsaw, despite his religious objections, he was recruited to fight in the German army.

Saul Weiss, a Jewish doctor, and his wife Eva assisted Tomasz in leaving Warsaw. Since then, Tomasz has assisted the Weiss family (they have an infant daughter) in hiding from the Nazis, despite the fact that harboring Jews is punishable by death.

Alina and Tomasz rekindle their passionate relationship. Tomasz unwillingly accepts to move into Alina’s family’s cellar. Tomasz scavenges for food to bring to the Weiss family, who have hidden in a nearby farmhouse. Tomasz lays out a plan for Alina to escape Nazi-occupied Poland and move head towards the safety of the Russian-occupied zone.

He has been tasked with delivering to the Allies a canister of film depicting what happened at the neighbouring extermination camp Auschwitz. Tomasz & the other resistance fighters hope that the film would convince the Allies of the existence of the extermination camps & the critical necessity for intervention.

However, an informant alerts the Nazis. Dr. Weiss is forced to watch his wife and daughter be executed by the Nazis. In a wonderful act, Tomasz offers to swap identification documents with the grieving Weiss, who, now travelling as Tomasz Slaski, will accompany Alina, who is carrying the film canister in a plaster cast on her hand, to freedom.

Tomasz assures Alina that he will find her. The journey to the Russian military camp is terrifying, but they make it. They have been waiting for months. Then Alina notices the first signs of pregnancy. Saul, now Tomasz Slaski, marries Alina, whose faked documents name her as Hanna Wisniewski, fearing the stigma of an unmarried mother even in the military camp. When British agents come to pick up the film, Saul and Alina follow them. The two then travel to America. Julita, their daughter, is born shortly afterwards.

Tomasz and Hanna Slaski are Saul and Alina’s real names. Despite the fact that they never married, their friendship is deep and lasting. Saul goes on to become a successful doctor. Before Saul’s death, the two had been together for more than 50 years. Julita grows raised in a happy home, never suspecting her father’s actual identity. She rises through the ranks to become a distinguished circuit judge. She marries and has a daughter, Alice, who is very close to Hanna/Alina, her grandma.

Alice married Wade Michaels, an aspiring nanotechnology executive who presents Alice with a comfortable house. They are the parents of two children. Their daughter, Callie, is brilliant and precocious, while their son, Eddie, has autism spectrum disorder. Alice, a stay-at-home mum, struggles with the obstacles of having two such distinct children and believes Wade uses employment to avoid them.

Alice rushes to the hospital after her grandma, who is in her 90s, has a stroke. Her grandmother, whom she affectionately refers to as Babcia, has difficulty communicating and requires the assistance of one of Eddie’s voice adaptation devices. Babcia convinces Alice that she wants her granddaughter to travel to Poland to assist in the unravelling of a family secret she has kept hidden since World War II. Alice reluctantly travels to Poland, confident that Wade cannot handle the kids even for a week.

Alice finds the identity switch with the support of Tomasz’s 90-something sister Emilia. She discovers that the man she knew as her loving grandfather Tomasz was actually a Jewish refugee named Saul Weiss. More devastatingly, she discovers that her biological grandfather, Alina’s true love, Tomasz, surrendered to the Nazis in order to protect Alina & was executed. Before returning to the United States, Alice pays a visit to Tomasz’s humble burial on Alina’s farm.

In the end of the book, Alice returns home with sad news for her granny. Babcia dies soon after. Alice & her family, now reconnected in a rekindled connection of family love, fly Saul & Alina’s ashes to Poland and inter them alongside Tomasz’s grave.

The Things We Cannot Say Synopsis

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer is the tale of two women who, while living in quite different times, are linked by a family secret. We follow young Polish woman Alina Dziak in the first tale as she develops feelings for a resistance warrior during World War II. Alina’s family is compelled to leave their house when the war begins and she is separated from her boyfriend, Tomasz.

The second story is on Alice, Alina’s granddaughter, who is juggling a hard work and a growing family while simultaneously seeking to connect with her distant grandmother, who has never discussed her background. In order to discover the long-kept family secret, Alice sets off on a voyage to Poland.

Rimmer examines concepts like family, love, sacrifice and the power of secrets in these two intertwined storylines.

About the Author-Kelly Rimmer

Full NameKelly Rimmer
BirthdateUnknown (not publicly available)
Famous WorksThe Secret Daughter,” “Before I Let You Go

The Things We Cannot Say FAQs

Is The Things We Cannot Say a true story?

The book “The Things We Cannot Say” by Kelly Rimmer is a work of historical fiction inspired by true events but it is not a strictly factual or biographical account.

What is the main idea of The Things We Cannot Say?

The main idea of The Things We Cannot Say is about the power of love, family and courage in overcoming the challenges and secrets of the past.

Is The Things We Cannot Say sad?

Yes, “The Things We Cannot Say” by Kelly Rimmer is a poignant and emotional story that deals with heavy themes such as war, family secrets and love.

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