Everything We Didn't Say: A Novel - book cover
  • Publisher : Atria Books
  • Published : 02 Nov 2021
  • Pages : 368
  • ISBN-10 : 1982115084
  • ISBN-13 : 9781982115081
  • Language : English

Everything We Didn't Say: A Novel

From the author of Little Broken Things, a "race-to-the-finish family drama" (People) following a mother who must confront the dark summer that changed her life forever in order to reclaim the daughter she left behind.

Juniper Baker had just graduated from high school and was deep in the throes of a summer romance when Cal and Beth Murphy, a childless couple who lived on a neighboring farm, were brutally murdered. When her younger brother became the prime suspect, June's world collapsed and everything she loved that summer fell away. She left, promising never to return to tiny Jericho, Iowa.

Until now. Officially, she's back in town to help an ill friend manage the local library. But really, she's returned to repair her relationship with her teenage daughter, who's been raised by Juniper's mother and stepfather since birth-and to solve the infamous Murphy murders once and for all. She knows the key to both lies in the darkest secret of that long-ago summer night, one that's haunted her for nearly fifteen years.

As history begins to repeat itself and a dogged local true crime podcaster starts delving into the murders, the race to the truth puts past and present on a dangerous collision course. Juniper lands back in an all-too-familiar place with the answers to everything finally in her sights, but this time it's her daughter's life that hangs in the balance. Will revealing what really happened mean a fresh start? Or will the truth destroy everything Juniper loves for a second time? Baart once again brilliantly weaves mystery into family drama in this expertly-crafted novel for fans of Lisa Jewell and Megan Miranda.

Editorial Reviews

"Nicole Baart skillfully blends suspense and family drama like no one else. Everything We Didn't Say is an atmospheric barn-burner that jumps from past to present in an Iowa farm community rife with secrets, simmering grudges, and an unsolved murder. I was utterly enthralled."-Emily Carpenter, bestselling author of Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters

"Nicole Baart is a master of crafting family dramas around a compelling mystery, and in Everything We Didn't Say she expertly weaves past and present into a journey to the truth of a decades-old murder case. Creepy and atmospheric, with vivid and emotional prose, this slow-burn will have you thinking twice about the people you know." Kimberly Belle, internationally bestselling author of Dear Wife and Stranger in the Lake

"With finely crafted characters, smooth-as-butter writing, and a breathless plot, Nicole Baart's latest kept me up long into the night, turning pages. The past is alive in this book, and I found myself wholly caught up in Juniper's intricate, surprising story as she returns home to find lost loves, lost causes, and some terrifying truths lying in wait. I'm a long-time fan of Baart, but this may be my favorite yet!" -Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of Never Have I Ever

"In the small town of Jericho, the past is better left alone – even when a double murder remains unsolved, casting shadows on a family that has been torn apart for over fourteen years. Weaving together past and present, Everything We Didn't Say is a poignant, riveting tale about love, loyalty and secrets that will sink into your bones and leave you breathless!" –Wendy Walker, bestselling author of Don't Look for Me

"Everything We Didn't Say brims with Nicole Baart's signature hallmarks–complex characters, tangled family dynamics, and, as always, beautiful writing. A multifaceted page-turner with intricate twists and turns, Baart has delivered a captivating read from first page to last!" -Susan Meissner, USA Today bestselling author of The Nature of Fragile Things

"Combining high wire tension and poetic storytelling, in Everything We Didn't Say Baart has created a haunting family drama that casts a glaring light on small-town hierarchies proving that the past has a long, unrelenting reach. Told in dual timelines, this suspenseful, beautifully rendered novel reveals its secrets in small, tantalizing bites leading to an explosive, highly satisfying conclusion. Everything We Didn't Say is Baart at her best." -Heather Gudenkauf, New Yor...

Readers Top Reviews

Jayme C (Brunettesli
TWO TIMELINES 14 Years ago, Cal and Beth Murphy suffered through vandalized property, and the poisoning of their pet dog, before they were brutally murdered. Jonathan Baker became the prime suspect, but he was never convicted, and his sister Juniper’s life was changed forever. She left for college, only returning home about once a year. In the present day, Juniper has returned to Jericho, Iowa, presumably to help an ill friend manage the local library, and to try to repair her relationship with her 13 year old daughter, who is being raised by her own mother, Reb and step father, Law. But she has actually returned to try and solve the Murphy murders before a local true crime podcaster does. You see, Juniper witnessed something that night that she has never revealed. History begins to repeat itself, but this time her brother and his family are the targets of vandalism, the death of their family dog and now an accident-with Jonathan’s life hanging in the balance. There is no doubt that Nicole Baart’s descriptive prose is quite lyrical, as we savor life in this small Iowa town, and discover the controversies and secrets of the farming community and its residents. And, eventually the story does wrap up with a SATISFYING conclusion BUT-the pace was so SLOW that it just took too long to get there for me!! It took me a week to read this book, when I can usually read a book every two days! And, apparently I am a bit of an outlier, here, but I wanted to hear excerpts from the Podcast that lured Juniper back to town, (we heard none) and explore why her friendship with Cora was close enough to bring her home to help at the library. (Where her help didn’t seem to be needed) In addition, when you leave your infant with your own parents, and have them raise her-visiting once a year-you don’t get to just decide to be a parent 13 years later. Face time phone calls and texts don’t cut it. Had these three sub plots been developed in more detail, perhaps the book would have held my interest more. As it was, I was often BORED. Many other reviewers have enjoyed this more, so be sure to read some of these reviews as well, to determine if this will be a better fit for your taste. 3.5 rounded down for the slow pace.
Linda S Moore
This is my first book by this author. I look forward to more. This book was totally great. Breathtakingly beautiful. Written to perfection. It was very heart touching. Heartbreaking. Full of love and pain. A bit of laughter along the way. It had it all. Juniper comes back to town to help out her friend who has cancer and to see the daughter she deserted so many years ago. She did see her child through the years but left her no the less. There was a tragedy all those years ago and nothing was ever the same again for Juniper. Her life was turned upside down. As was her baby brother's life. Jonathan was only a few months younger than June. Almost twins. They were very close and could all but read each other's minds. So much changed that day. That summer. That fourth of July. A family is killed. A husband and wife. Who could have done such a horrible thing? Could it have been Jonathan? Or Sullivan Tate? Or any of the Tates? Juniper was in love with Sullivan and could not imagine him doing such a heinous thing. But where had he been all day. Things went so wrong that day. But when June came back to help out her friend, Cora, a lot of things changed. She started remembering some things. The town seemed to honestly believe that it was Jonathan even though he loved Cal and Beth Murphy. They were his friends. He did a lot of work for them. What secrets could they be keeping. Why did the people in this town seem to hate them so much? Every family has its secrets. The things that they don't want others to know about. But what could be lurking in the Baker's lives that they didn't want anyone to know? How many secrets did they have? A few too many perhaps. This is a very well written book. A story that will keep you guessing. Keep you turning the pages. Have you on the edge of your seat in so many places and so many ways. There are a few secrets that will be revealed and some closures too. This book to me is honestly one of the best I've read. From the start to the very last words I was hooked. I didn't want it to end but couldn't stop reading. There are quite a fews twists and turns. A few friendships that are torn apart due to betrayals. A family who does not seem to want to stand together and another that definitely stands strong for each other. One that loses everything. Thank you #NetGalley, #NicloeBaart, #Atria for this ARC. This is my own true feelings about this book. It's truly so good. A must read. 5/5 huge stars and the highest recommendation. Read it. Grab some tissues and be ready for a page turning time.

Short Excerpt Teaser

Chapter 1 CHAPTER 1

The murders took place on a hot summer night, but to Juniper it would always be winter in Jericho. Bitter and unforgiving as deep February, when frost edged the windows like salt on the rim of a glass.

It seemed fitting, then, that it was dark and profoundly cold when Juniper pulled into town. In the glow of her headlights she could see that the WELCOME TO JERICHO sign was riddled with bullet holes. Fifteen years ago there had been exactly three: puncture marks with saw-toothed edges that, if connected, would form a nearly perfect isosceles triangle over the yellow block letters of her hometown. They seemed intentional at the time. A warning, maybe, or a vulgar homage to three different bullets that had taken a much deadlier trajectory. But even barreling down Highway 20 at sixty miles an hour in the raw black of a February night, Juniper could see that the sign had become a target of sorts. At least a dozen holes had been punched through the metal, and the indentations of buckshot dimpled the gaping O.

A shot-up welcome sign was certainly an inauspicious reception-she could hardly believe that in all these years the city council had never bothered to replace it-but she harbored no illusions that her return to Jericho would be a happy homecoming. It was why she timed her arrival for the middle of the night and told Cora to slip the house key in the mailbox of the bungalow. Juniper had rented it, sight unseen, on a six-month lease. She doubted she'd make it that long.

Even over a dozen years later and in the dark, Juniper knew the layout of Jericho by heart. The population was just shy of four thousand and the streets were arranged on a grid, so Cora hadn't bothered to provide an address.

"It's the McAvoys' old place. One story, blue, tiny front porch. A block from the library. You know the one, right?"

She did.

Navigating the abandoned streets, she felt her skin prickle against the familiarity of a town she hadn't seen in years. Little had changed. Main Street was shuttered and quiet, gray snow piled against the sides of businesses that she had frequented as a kid. Juniper could almost feel the cracking sidewalks beneath her feet, the slant of concrete where the roots of gnarled trees had bubbled up. She used to burst into Cunningham's Cafe clutching a five-dollar bill. Cold Coke and hot, salty french fries, the backs of her bare legs glued to the green vinyl booth. The sticky-sweet memory felt like it was from someone else's childhood.

Beside the cafe was a secondhand store, then, in quick succession, a run-down Dollar General, a Kirby vacuum dealer, and a small-animal vet. Across the street there was the eye doctor, the bakery, a mom-and-pop hardware, and a shoe store that had been boarded up, windows plastered with faded FOR SALE signs. That was it: all of Jericho in the blink of an eye.

At one end, right before the corner where Highway 20 intersected Main, was the library. Just the sight of it made Juniper's heart unclench a bit, and she released the breath that she hadn't realized she was holding. Cora had offered her a reason wrapped up so neatly she had no choice but to accept. A perfectly packaged rationale to come home.

Because the town seemed abandoned, Juniper didn't bother to flick on her blinker when she turned at the end of the street. The small blue house was just where she knew it would be. It, too, hadn't changed much, and she could almost picture Harriet McAvoy rocking in her chair beside the front door. But the porch was empty, freshly shoveled, and someone had left the floodlight on.

For just a moment, the golden glow of it mingled with the sudden flash of red and blue in her rearview mirror. But Juniper's foot was already on the brake, her subconscious aware of what was happening even before she turned her head and realized there was a police cruiser behind her. It was the first car that she had seen in nearly an hour. "Perfect," she groaned, easing to the side of the road instead of into the driveway of her new rental.

She threw the transmission into park and fumbled in the glove compartment for her papers, cursing under her breath. Of course her first few minutes back would end in a ticket. In a confrontation with the sort of small-town police officer who made her skin feel tight and itchy even all these years later.

Just as she located the little plastic folder with her papers, a shadow darkened the driver's-side window and gloved knuckles rapped against the glass. He was tal...