REVIEW: The Untold, by J. Nesland

I first came across the book via the NaNoWriMo forums and found that it too had made the ABNA cut, alongside my own. Intrigued by the premise, I ordered it.

The story carried me to Saskatchewan, Canada, where teenage Aleks Foster lives with his alcoholic father and spends most of his time with his best friend, Suzanne, and her two younger siblings. Blamed by his father for his mother’s death in a car accident, he is forced into tiptoeing around his father and siblings as an adapting mechanism.

His high-school life looks like that of a teenager, with one major exception: Aleks has no memory of what happened before the accident. He’s plagued by nightmares that he can make no sense of, until one day, he and Suzanne uncover his childhood journals, which lasted right up until the day of the accident. Determined to remember what happened to him, Aleks starts to dig further.

First thing I will say is that this book is definitely intended for the more mature set of young adult readers, and the second is that it took me by the eyes and hands and didn’t let go until I finished it. A quick and gripping read, it puts a strong perspective on a child in an abusive situation. Aleks began writing his journals when he was very little, without really knowing or understanding why his father treated him and his mother so badly. The perspective of a young child asking the difficult “why” contrasts sharply with the young man that Alex is in present-day, trying to puzzle out the pieces to his past. The contrast shapes the character in a simple yet powerful way as he seeks his past and tries to balance out and make sense of his present-day.

Jessica Nesland proved herself a strong author on this first release. I strongly recommend it to anyone seeking a strong YA book.

My only quibble, if any, is with the grammar and editing. Not much of a quibble, seeing as my own first release has its own fair share of errors, but in this book, it doesn’t at all take away from the story.