Title: All That’s Left Unsaid
Author: Tracey Lien
Publication Date: 15th September 2022
1996 – Cabramatta, Sydney
‘Just let him go.’
Those are words Ky Tran will forever regret. The words she spoke when her parents called to ask if they should let her younger brother Denny out to celebrate his high school graduation with friends. That night, Denny – optimistic, guileless Denny – is brutally murdered inside a busy restaurant in the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta, a refugee enclave facing violent crime, and an indifferent police force.
Returning home for the funeral, Ky learns that the police are stumped by her brother’s case. Even though several people were present at Denny’s murder, each bystander claims to have seen nothing, and they are all staying silent.
Determined to uncover the truth, Ky tracks down and questions the witnesses herself. But what she learns goes beyond what happened that fateful night. The silence has always been there, threaded through the generations, and Ky begins to expose the complex traumas weighing on those present the night Denny died. As she peels back the layers of the place that shaped her, she must confront more than the reasons her brother is dead. And once those truths have finally been spoken, how can any of them move on?
I was utterly gripped by this brilliant book from start to finish. On the surface it’s a straightforward and compelling mystery about what happened the night Denny Tran was killed and why. However, beneath the surface there is so much more going on here. Lien writes with an unflinching power about the struggles of refugees trying to assimilate to life in Australia and the way they have to fight against years of generational trauma and violence, not to mention the discrimination or passivity they are forced to endure from the authorities. All That’s Left Unsaid is razor sharp with wit, intelligence and a great deal of poignancy in the way it so expertly portrays the community of Cabramatta. It is set in the 1990’s which is skilfully woven into the story with references and cultural influences. This is also a story about family and what it means to different people. The narrative follows Denny’s sister Ky as she searches for the truth about her brother’s violent death, but her narrative is interrupted occasionally with chapters from the viewpoint of the silent witnesses to Denny’s murder. This gives the story an incredible multilayered complexity that forces the reader to understand the numerous factors at play in the lives of these characters. Moving, thought provoking, unflinching and heartbreaking, I couldn’t recommend All That’s Left Unsaid more highly.
Thank you to HQ and Alliya Bouyis for having me on the tour and providing a copy of the book. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.
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