A true crime podcast threatens fifteen years of a family’s silence as the eldest daughter, Juniper, returns to her small Iowa hometown to confront the her demons.
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?
Everything We Didn’t Say is at once slow-burn a mystery and a family drama. There is a mystery and secrets underlying the narrative, but for me, this book is really about confronting the past, reconciling with family, and owning your mistakes.
Everything We Didn’t Say is the first book I have read by Nicole Baart, and it did not disappoint. The story is told in third-person over two alternating timelines – the present and the summer after Juniper graduates high school (when the murders takes place.) I thought the dual timeline was well executed and easy to follow. While the pace was steady, it was a slow-burn. I actually thought this was fitting, and I did not have a problem being compelled to quickly finish it (at 3 am). I think a lot of people will enjoy not being able to guess the identity of the murderer.
Everything We Didn’t Say felt super personal to me. I think this is partially because I grew up just like the protagonist, Juniper. Both the time she was a teenager and her return to her hometown as an outcast struck a chord for me. The conflict between Juniper and her brother also felt like a personal sibling rift. Baart perfectly depicted so many feelings that resonated with me. She captured what it feels like to grapple with the choice to leave your small, rural hometown knowing you will not come back and leaving behind friends that will live there forever. It felt like I was once again leaving a place that was my home but also did not feel like home. I could go on about all the things I thought Baart perfectly executed.
Overall, I really enjoyed Everything We Didn’t Say and definitely recommend it!
Note: I received a gifted advance readers’ copy of this book from the publisher, Atria Books. Regardless, I always provide a fair and honest review.