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Things Unsaid: A Novel by Diana Y. Paul
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Things Unsaid: A Novel

by Diana Y. Paul

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This is a story about parents who waste their money and burden their oldest daughter with their debts and expectations that she'll come up with the money to pay them. And while the daughter tries to pay everything off to prove she's better than them, she puts her husband and her daughter second.

I didn't like this book. I didn't like any of the characters. I found the writing confusing at times and it got on my nerves when a sentence would start "would love to.." instead of "I would love to.." ( )
  jenn88 | Apr 25, 2017 |
I love reading about family dynamics, and this one had a special attraction. The parents were trying to hold their children hostage to make sure that the parents' needs were met without any changes on their part. Each child had a totally different reaction to their parents' manipulations and emotional blackmail. I could see real families reacting in such ways. The dysfunction dripped from every page until everyone almost drowned and was almost carried out to sea by the storm's waves.

I so didn't expect such an enthralling novel. Caregiving when parents age and don't consider their new normal must be the most no-win situation one could ever be part of. I picked it up last night and could not put it down until I finished the last page.
( )
  gentlespirit512 | Nov 22, 2016 |
The baby boomers in America today are faced with the same dilemma as the characters in this book - how do they juggle taking care of their aging parents and their families and children at the same time and not go totally crazy themselves. Adding to the problem in this novel is that these parents have always treated their children terribly but the adult children still feel guilt over how to care for their parents.

Robert and Aida have three children - Jules, their oldest daughter who feels the most responsible for her parents; Andrew, the only son who hasn't visited in over five year and Joanne, the spoiled youngest daughter. Aida is probably one of the most narcissistic characters that I've read in a long time and if the reader thinks this is just a trait that develops as she grows older, there are lots of flashbacks to earlier times that show that she has always been this way. Robert is weak and didn't do much to take care of his family except provide his income. Their bills are mounting in their retirement home and they expect Jules to bail them out. Problem is that Jules has a husband and daughter at home and is maxing out their future to take care of her parents.

This is an extremely well written thought provoking book. I enjoyed the way the author opened up the characters little by little throughout the story. There were several characters that I didn't like at all but they were an integral part of the story that needed to be told. Overall, it left a great question that the reader needs to answer for themselves - it is more important to take care of our aging parents or the family that we create when we start our own lives? ( )
  susan0316 | May 13, 2016 |
From my blog

I thought this would be a beautiful and potential emotional read, but I wasn't impressed with the execution. I finished it which is why it gets a 3 but I really didn't enjoy any of the characters, the parents I really despised, how can anyone feel that entitled with family, be that selfish, just shocking. And due to the foundation and morals they lacked, the entitlement was passed on to siblings, putting all the responsibility on the oldest daughter Jules.

What a fool she had been - so blind, so driven to be a good daughter and get her parents' approval, to prove she was a better person than either one of them. Children took care of their aging parents, didn't they? Mustn't they?

I am pleased that the author didn't try to make us like the characters and I didn't feel like it was for shock appeal but the term dysfunction does not do this family justice. The mom was manipulative and inappropriate in every way, looks meant more than common sense, love and life.

The whole way through I felt sorry for Jules. There is always that sibling that takes the meaning of caring for parents, family to the extreme without knowing it, is it an obligation? Jules hits bottom before understanding what makes her happy and who her obligation should be to.

Once you have your own family, husband and children, who becomes first? This would be a great discussion. I have had many conversations with friends on this topic. How much do you sacrifice financially, mentally and personal happiness to give to your family you was born in vs the family you have created?

As an adult, it is still hard to make decisions when it is your parents even though it would be best for all. I cannot say how much I didn't like the parents, terrible in every way. The daughter Joanne tried to be like the mom. Andrew tried his best to distance himself, he probably did the best with balance but he had a historic secret that wasn't completely revealed but I definitely knew.

It is a worthwhile story if the premise intrigues you. You may appreciate the execution more than me but you won't like the parents I'm sure. ( )
  marcejewels | Jan 12, 2016 |
What is it about verbally abused children that make them keep trying to please their parents even though that will never happen? Julia (Jules) was the eldest daughter, now grown and married with a child of her own. She has a sister and brother, Joanne and Andrew. Jules and Joanne arrive for their mother’s birthday celebration. Soon after Jules arrives, her dad, Robert Whitman, goes to his computer, while her mom, Aida, starts in on her. Their financial crisis is all her fault for giving her dad the computer. He’s invested in penny stocks and they’re, quite frankly, losing their butts.

Not only that, but both parents seem to think it’s a drop in the bucket for Jules to bail them out of their crisis. Their assisted living community, Safe Harbor, is costing $5K per month! So, Jules dutifully doles out $11K at her mother’s insistence to get them through the next couple of months. Jules and her husband are now at odds. His main concern is their daughter who needs money for college. Yet Jules continues to support her parents who are refusing to move in with anyone and lose their lucrative lifestyle.

Oh boy! This book brought out some strong anger in me. As I read more, I could see a pattern forming. Some chapters were given over the Robert and Aida and the reader could see that they had also received their share of verbal abuse. Sadly, though, the abuse was also physical for Andrew. He had not shown up for Aida’s party. In fact, he didn’t show up for quite a bit of their lives. The scenes played out on the pages of this story are intense. The reader feels the desire to sit down with Jules and shake some sense into her. The author expertly places us in the midst of a very dysfunctional family. Rating: 4 out of 5. ( )
  FictionZeal | Nov 28, 2015 |
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