Every Word You Never Said by Jordon Greene
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
TW: Homophobia, Bullying, Sexism, Ableism
First of all a huge thank you to Jordon Greene for the amazing ARC and the chance to read and review one of my most anticipated books of 2022!
Skylar Gray is adopted, nonverbal and he feels most comfortable in skirts and dresses. His life wasn’t easy, he was bullied and abused, he doesn’t trust easily and he’s scared to be seen as defective, a burden, to be unable to find family and friends. Now, living with new parents, going in a new school and in a different state, Skylar is a bit more hopeful things will get better for him. His life and feelings are complicated when he meets Jacob, with his white hair and gorgeous eyes, who is as anxious and nervous as he is.
Jacob’s life isn’t easy, either, since he came out over the summer, receiving his homophobic father’s hate and disgust, struggling to live in his own family and trying to live his life as freely as possible, even though painting his nails and dyeing his hair mean getting grounded every time. When Skylar wearing skirts prompts his father to propose a sexist dress code, Jacob refuses to remain silent and decides to take a stand.
I LOVED reading Every word you never said. The story is absolutely fantastic, very sweet and with care and sensivity the author deals with many important themes, like homophobia, ableism, bullying, sexism, abuse and so much more. Told by two POVs, Skylar’s and Jacob’s, with wonderful drawings of the boys at the beginning of their chapters, it’s impossible not to be involved in this story, to love these characters, who are so realistic, relatable, brimming with feelings, so alive and complex.
Skylar’s life wasn’t easy, he’s been through so much, he struggles to trust, to see himself as his new parents and new friends see him, to let himself go and trust he’s loved and cared for. His new friends, Imani and Seth are amazing, supportive and really brilliant. I loved reading their interactions, Imani’s loud voice and Seth’s quiet presence, their unconditional love and support. I also loved reading Skylar’s interactions with his new parents, who love him right away, supporting his decision to wear what he wants, to use makeup, to do whatever he’s comfortable with.
On the other side, Jacob is struggling with his coming out and the hate from his father, against his homophobic and sexist ideas, against his obsession for the church and the use of religion to support his ideas and hate speech. When he starts to feel something for the new student and when Skylar is threatened by the new dress code, Jacob is determined to take a stand and to fight for what is right.
I loved how the author talked about their relationship, between cute and sweet moments, sexual tension, romantic dates, but, also, doubts, anxiety problems, frustrations, it was really relatable and skillfully written. I also loved how the author addresses Skylar’s disability, how he, sometimes, struggles with it and with the difficulty of being understood through sign language, reading lips, or having to use his phone to communicate, but also with how, with Jacob, his friends and parents, Skylar uses other languages, the body’s, eyes’ expressions, movements and so on, to communicate. It was my first read with a nonverbal main character and I loved everything (mostly because I’m trying to learn sign language, so I was interested in that, too). I loved Skylar’s and Jacob’s relationship, how they help, support and love one other, between music and books, dates and friends.
I loved Jacob’s and Skylar’s friends, how they joke and are supportive, how they are willing to do the right things and support them. I loved how the author addresses important issues in this book and, through the new sexist dress code, how, even now, people struggle to understand that clothes, makeup and so on, have no gender, how is, basically, through and because of some culture that dresses or skirts are seen are feminine and associated to a certain sexual orientation, giving bullies their ammutions to attack and hurt people.
This could open, and it should, a discussion about gender and clothes, but I think it’s better to finish my review, without writing a poem.
I loved Every Word You Never Said. The characterization is brilliant, the writing style was immersive and evocative, I loved reading about Skylar and Jacob, their struggles and ideas, their pains and traumas, but, also, their love and friendships and how they learn to fight to be themselves and to be together. I loved everything.
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There’s also a brilliant preorder campaign here! http://jordongreene.com/preorderCampaign