The Things We Can’t Undo by Gabrielle Reid
Publisher: Ford Street Publishing
Synopsis: There’s no backspace key for life’s decisions.
Samantha and Dylan are in love – everyone knows it. So it’s no big deal when they leave a party for some time out together. But when malicious rumours surface about that night, each feels betrayed by the other.
Will Sam make a decision she can’t take back?
This book does contain triggers of rape and suicide, so please bear this in mind.
The Things We Can’t Undo is a Australian YA contemporary that is gripping and damn relatable in its storytelling. Much like other contemporaries set in high school, I was taken on a journey back in time dealing with present day issues. But what made The Things We Can’t Undo unique? The subject matter: consent.
The topic of sex and consent is central to the development of the story, and is prominent from the beginning to the end. Told from the dual perspectives of Dylan and Samantha, Reid paints a realistic picture of high school relationships, cultural expectations from parents, and the consequences of actions coupled with the impact of mental health issues.
Reid does not shy away from the gritty details of high school. It’s a wild experience, and when you’re in a relationship, there’s almost no privacy. Everyone wants to get up in your business and know what’s happening between you two. This goes fpr Dylan and Sam, whose first sexual experience takes a turn for the worst, and suddenly it’s all over the school gossip grapevine.
The first chapter opens up conversation on sex and consent. This is such a delicate subject matter in books, as most YA would tend to ‘fade-to-black’ or not contain much sex at all. But sex is such an important topic to be talking about with teenagers, and the first chapter of this shows how murky the waters can be when experiencing sex without much guidance. The way in which Reid captures this moment between Samantha and Dylan is thought provoking and well-written as it unfolds into the main aspects of the book.
The characters all show distinct forms of development, and between them all is a fierce bond of friendship that is showcased when the word ‘rape’ surfaces. The situation isn’t clean-cut: Dylan and Sam love each other, they were both virgins, and there was a miscommunication where Sam felt she was unable to speak up and Dylan thought she was okay with it. It’s such a difficult concept to understand as a young adult, and this book shows the importance of knowing about consent and sex. It’s also a story of strong friendships, resilence, and the pains of growing up and out of yourself.
The story isn’t an easy one to read, and while the plot is rather slow at some points, the subject matter doesn’t impact the way you feel about the characters. You’ll find yourself quite invested in them. The format of this novel features texts, journal entries, and social media posts, making it very accessible to teenagers and young adults today.
Thank you Ford Street Publishing and Gabrielle Reid for a copy of this book for an honest review and for letting me be a part of the blog tour! The Things We Can’t Undo is out in Australia on May 1st.