The Bookstop: school, skirts and young love

Ansley Puckett, Reporter

Extremely touching and heartfelt, “Every Word You Never Said” by North Carolina author Jordon Greene takes you back to life in high school, where kids were cruel, adults didn’t understand and living your truth could be difficult.

Set in North Carolina, “Every Word You Never Said” is Greene’s 11th book and follows the lives of two boys as they navigate high school life, family and love.

Nonverbal and gay, Skylar Gray feels like he never quite fit in, especially when he gets adopted by a new family and has to move down to another state and start over. But Skylar finds himself slowly warming to his new parents, who support him at every turn and show him how parents should be after years with abusive foster families. 

However, at his new school, kids don’t understand his need to use his phone to communicate, and the school administration fight against him wearing a skirt to express himself. Stumbling upon an ally during a group activity in class, Skylar finds a friend in Wiccan Imani and her quiet friend Seth. Forming a bond with Imani and Seth, Skylar opens himself up to friends despite distrusting them at first.

Meanwhile, Jacob Walter is juggling life with his high profile politician dad and high school harassment after coming out over the summer. Feeling stuck and misunderstood, Jacob uses music to express himself and spends time playing in a cover band with his best friend, Ian. However, when Jacob gets assigned the task of showing Skylar around school and the lives of these two collide, they discover they have a lot more in common than they would have thought and find an unlikely place to be themselves.

Told through first person point of view through the eyes of both Skylar and Jacob, Greene connects readers to these characters and the joys and pain that make them who they are. Skylar’s skeptical but optimistic personality comes out on every page. In Jacob’s chapters, we see both his and Skylar’s reserved but strong personalities and his resolve to stand up for what he believes in.

Switching from Skylar to Jacob, the novel takes you through the cynical beginnings of young love to the encouraging stages of friendship and then the joys of connection and trust. Not only do the main characters shine, but Imani, Seth and Ian are compelling and engaging in their own right and add character to the novel, showing that friendship is just as important as relationships. 

“Every Word You Never Said” teeters between hard subjects and heartwarming moments as the group fights back against real prejudice and hate in their school and community. Although filled with some teen relationship drama, readers of any demographic will appreciate Greene’s ability to engage all ages and connect adult issues to the issue that teens in school face today. “Every Word You Never Said” is the perfect end of the academic year read and a great addition to Greene’s work.

“Every Word You Never Said” came out April 26, and you can find more information on Jordon Greene and his other work on his website.