Everything I've never said by Samantha Wheeler
UQP, 2018. ISBN 9780702260278
(Age: 10-15) Highly recommended. This is a powerful book that gives a voice to a protagonist who cannot speak. Ava has Rett Syndrome, therefore she can't talk or use her body in any way to communicate. At times she cannot control her loud outbursts and her older sister is ashamed of her and does not want her friends to be in contact with Ava. Their parents do their best but can only guess at Ava's needs and preferences.
The already struggling family is barely coping when they reach a crisis point. The father has a heart attack and finds himself seriously debilitated and shares many of Ava's physical problems.
What makes this book so powerful is that the reader can hear Ava. We are inside her mind and share her frustrations about communicating to the outside world.
There is hope for a change in her life when she has a new carer Kieran, who feels there must be an answer to Ava's communication needs. Her new friend Aimee shows Ava a possible future world where she can experience new activities and skills.
I have read other novels by Samantha Wheeler, Mister Cassowary and Turtle trackers both of which have a strong environmental message but this book is more personal as Samantha's youngest daughter has Rett Syndrome.
The books cover shows Ava's face as she floats in the pool. It is a time when her body is suspended by the water and she is physically freer than at any other time in her life. It is a wonderful image that captures the person, not the disability.
I found this novel a compelling read and an insight into a world that is difficult to understand as an outsider. I would highly recommend this book to 10 to 15 year olds.
A book trailer is available on YouTube.