cover image Things We Couldn’t Say

Things We Couldn’t Say

Jay Coles. Scholastic Press, $18.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-338-73418-8

High school junior Giovanni Zander, 17, loves the band Paramore, making playlists, and spending time with his two best friends—Ayesha, who is Black, and Olly, who is white—as well as his younger brother, Theo. Beneath his joy, though, Gio struggles to navigate his relationship with his pastor father, who hates that Gio is both bisexual and plays basketball instead of devoting his life to the church; the trauma from his mother abandoning the family when he was younger; and the world as a Black teenager. As Gio works toward developing an upbeat outlook, his birth mother suddenly reappears, asking to be part of his life. Concurrently, he must face his sexuality when David, a new neighbor and basketball teammate, develops a crush on him. With tensions rising at home, Gio fights to make sense of complicated emotions regarding his mother, David, and David’s whiteness, while also maintaining his grades, basketball, and social life. Coles (Tyler Johnson Was Here) tackles the complexities of religion and sexuality, trauma and forgiveness, and race and relationships, exploring the myriad layers of one person’s identity and the importance of each in this emotional, yet joyful, novel. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)