Friday, September 30, 2022

Book Review: "All That's Left Unsaid" by Tracey Lien

This debut novel is a well-written family drama, as a young woman fights to find the truth about a family tragedy.

Ky was more than eager to leave her home of Cabramatta, a suburb of Sydney, to pursue a career as a journalist in Melbourne. Each time she returned home to visit her family, she became more depressed over the decline of Cabramatta, home to countless refugees from Vietnam and other countries, riddled by crime, drugs, and poverty.

Her parents summon her home with sad news: her studious brother Denny was apparently murdered at a restaurant after celebrating his high school graduation. The police don’t know what happened and don’t seem to care much about the fate of another refugee; amazingly, there were dozens of witnesses in the restaurant but no one apparently saw anything.

Wracked with guilt because she convinced her parents to let Denny go that night, and frustrated by their reticence to push for answers regarding his death, Ky is determined to uncover the truth. She sets out to track down the witnesses to Denny’s murder and find out what they know and why they won’t speak up.

In doing so, Ky uncovers a picture of a town under the vise of violence and anti-immigrant sentiment, where the police are ones to fear, not look to for protection. And at the same time, she learns more about her brother, and her family, than she ever knew.

This was sad and very insightful. It is told by Ky and a number of the witnesses, so the voice of the book changed often, and that kept taking me out of the story. But there was a lot to marvel over here for a debut novel.

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