Powerful & Heart-Breaking
All That’s Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien is a marvellous debut novel that totally consumed me.
The story is set in 1996 in the Vietnamese community in Australia. It is very powerful and totally heart-breaking.
Much of the community fled Vietnam for the safety of Australia. They fled for a new life but were met with persecution and prejudice. “The looks she got… the way they saw her skin before they saw her.” The people were judged before they were known. Parents took low paid jobs and stressed the importance of education to their children, so that they could rise up out of poverty.
The streets were dangerous places to be. There was much drug related crime.
We follow a character as she searches for answers to her brother’s murder. Witnesses appeared struck blind and dumb as there was fear of retaliation if they talked.
The reader hears the back story to the main characters. We see the hand of kindness and generosity offered to one whose life had known only cruelty and neglect. A friendship rose up and then something happened – the reader can only guess at what as we work our way through the book.
There is sibling love. A closeness as young children drifts apart as lives take different paths.
We see characters consumed by guilt. Guilt drags lives down but changes nothing.
Everyone deals with death differently. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. We have to do what we can to muddle through.
We follow the lead character as she tries to find out what happened that night. My heart went out to the ten year old girl – her story was heart breaking.
All That’s Left Unsaid was a powerful read that really played with my emotions. It was absolutely heart-breaking on so many levels. I can thoroughly recommend it but you will need tissues. I look forward to much more from Tracey Lien.
I received a free copy from the publishers. A favourable review was not required. All opinions are my own.